The Las Vegas Raiders have some big decisions to make this offseason at quarterback but they’re in a strong position. Derek Carr has made it clear that he doesn’t want to play for another team. Even though he wants a new contract this offseason, it’s hard to see him making a big scene if he doesn’t get it. Whether the team chooses to trade him, draft a quarterback and let him play out his contract or give him an extension, they have some good options.
Other teams aren’t as fortunate. The San Francisco 49ers drafted a quarterback with the No. 3 overall pick last year in Trey Lance. That pretty much meant the end of the Jimmy Garoppolo era. However, the veteran just led them to the NFC Championship game. Is Kyle Shanahan really ready to hand his offense over to a rookie? If not, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN believes that Raiders quarterback Marcus Mariota would be a premium target for the team:
If the 49ers move on from Jimmy Garoppolo, which is largely expected, they could spend money on an accomplished free-agent quarterback to pair with Trey Lance. That would give San Francisco flexibility, with the new quarterback either supporting Lance in a backup role or actually starting games if Lance needs a little more developmental time — at a lesser cost than Garoppolo is due in 2022 ($25.5 million).
Mariota would make a lot of sense in that scenario. He would thrive off coach Kyle Shanahan’s designed runs while providing experience. Mariota and Trubisky have similar backgrounds as former No. 2 picks who have had to reestablish their careers as backups with new teams. Mariota did enough to earn a fifth-year option from Tennessee, but the franchise’s 2-4 start in 2019 led to him being benched in favor of Ryan Tannehill. He has spent the past two seasons in Las Vegas as Derek Carr’s backup, throwing 30 passes and occasionally being used in red zone situations.
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Mariota Could Be Popular Free Agent
Mariota makes a lot of sense with Shanahan. The coach got his NFL start under Jon Gruden in 2004, who just spent the last two years coaching the former Heisman Trophy winner. The two coaches are similar offensive minds. That said, Mariota could have options this offseason.
He might not want to risk going to San Francisco just to lose a quarterback battle to Lance. The Pittsburgh Steelers or Washington Commanders could be much more interesting landing spots. Neither team knows who their starting quarterback will be next season. Mariota has had his struggles but he’s taken the last two years to readjust and did look impressive when he did see the field for the Raiders. He’s a supreme talent and a great leader. He’s just had a hard time staying healthy. That’ll be the biggest concern for any team looking to sign him.
Raiders Should Try to Keep Mariota
Having a good backup quarterback has never been more important. Teams rely so heavily on their starting quarterback that if they get hurt, losses can quickly pile up. New Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels knows how important it is to have a good backup quarterback.
Mariota knows the team and McDaniels could certainly get creative with using him in certain packages. If he can’t land a guaranteed starting job, staying in Las Vegas could be a smart move for his career. It’s unlikely but the Raiders should try to get him to stay.