The NFL trade deadline is approaching for the Las Vegas Raiders and it could be time for them to swing big. The team is in playoff contention but needs to ensure the season doesn’t go off the rails as it has in the previous two years. The defense has been playing much better this season, in large part due to the improved play of the secondary.
However, things have gotten tougher with Trayvon Mullen and Damon Arnette being sent to the Injured Reserve. Amik Robertson has struggled at cornerback so the team recently signed Desmond Trufant. He was once a Pro Bowl-level player but hasn’t had the same success in recent years. Casey Hayward has been elite and there’s no reason to worry about him but the Raiders need a solid second cornerback.
Backup quarterback Marcus Mariota could actually be one of the team’s better trade pieces. At the beginning of the season, it looked like the Raiders had plans to use him on a number of packages but was sent to the IR after just one play. He returned from injury against the Broncos and didn’t come on the field once. With Jon Gruden resigning, offensive coordinator Greg Olson is now running the offense. It’s unclear how much he believes in Mariota packages. If he doesn’t plan on using him, the Raiders should consider trading the quarterback and getting something in return before he leaves in free agency.
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Mariota for Steelers CB Joe Haden
If Mariota is put on the trade block, the Pittsburgh Steelers make sense as a partner. The team has been in denial but quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is done. He’s put together a Hall of Fame career but he just can’t throw the ball like he could when he was a younger man. The Steelers have a great roster and coaching staff. The only thing that’s holding them back from being a playoff team is subpar play at quarterback.
Mariota could inject Pittsburgh’s offense with a level of playmaking they haven’t seen in years. Plus, they have some assets that could appeal to the Raiders. As noted earlier, Las Vegas has a need at cornerback. Joe Haden is 32-year-old but is still a very solid cornerback. He’d give the Raiders a good pass defender next to Hayward. A package of Haden and a sixth-round pick should be enough for the team to deal Mariota to Pittsburgh if the injury to Mullen keeps him out for much longer.
Derek Carr Injury Scares Could Influence Raiders
If the Raiders don’t have any plans for Mariota packages, it could be in their best interest to trade him. However, the value of a good backup quarterback in the NFL is increasing. Derek Carr has had two serious injury scares already this season. Luckily, they weren’t serious enough to keep him out of games but if they were, Mariota has shown that he can lead the offense.
Getting a draft pick or solid player for a backup quarterback could help the Raiders in the long run but it could also be devastating if Carr is forced to miss any time. The team will have to weigh that before they entertain any trade offers.