Former No. 2 Pick Could Be Patriots’ ‘Most Realistic Option’ at QB: Report

Getty Marcus Mariota

The New England Patriots didn’t get Matthew Stafford from the Detroit Lions, and they could be locked in a battle for the Philadelphia Eagles’ Carson Wentz. Acquiring either Stafford or Wentz would have or would require relinquishing draft assets, but ESPN’s Mike Reiss floated the idea that Las Vegas Raiders’ free-agent QB Marcus Mariota might be the “most realistic option” for the Patriots.

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Reiss’ Reasoning Behind Signing Mariota

Reiss referred to the Patriots’ potential courting, signing and refreshing of Mariota as the Ryan Tannehill effect. Tannehill was cut loose and almost labeled a bust after failing to find his niche with the Miami Dolphins. The Tennessee Titans snatched him up and have helped to reshape his career

Now he’s playing like one of the Top 10 QBs in the NFL. In a perfect scenario, the Patriots could have similar success with Mariota. Here’s what Reiss wrote about that potential revival and why the Raiders might not move to re-sign Mariota.

Could Las Vegas QB Marcus Mariota be the most realistic option many are overlooking? Similar to how Ryan Tannehill found success in Tennessee, Mariota could do the same in New England. The Raiders are projected to be over the salary cap, and keeping Mariota as a backup to Derek Carr, with an $11.3 million salary-cap charge, might be a luxury they can’t afford. The Raiders announced last week that No. 3 quarterback Nathan Peterman signed a one-year extension.

If the Raiders decide to chase the Houston Texans’ Deshaun Watson, they will have to part ways with Carr, and that could mean the team will have Peterman and perhaps an undrafted rookie as their QBs in 2021, but that’s a long shot. It seems more likely the Raiders move on with Carr, Peterman and a third QB, which leaves Mariota available to the highest bidder, which could be the Patriots.

Reiss continued:

From this perspective, a case could be made for Mariota as the strongest possibility, based on potential availability, modest cost, and upside. He has played under four coaches and five coordinators in six NFL seasons. Maybe the stability of the Belichick/Josh McDaniels pairing is a nice match for him.

Mariota’s Upside

Mariota is still just 27 years old. It was only 2015 when he was drafted No. 2 overall by the Tennessee Titans.

He’s also had some success in the NFL if you look back at his first 2 years in the league. As a rookie, Mariota threw for 2,818 yards, 19 TDs, and 10 INTs in 12 games. He followed that up with a strong sophomore season in 2016 when he threw for 3,416 yards, 26 TDs, and 9 INTs in 15 games.

Unfortunately, things began to decline in 2017 when his numbers took a dramatic dip, he appeared to lose some confidence, and ultimately his job as the Titans’ starting QB. He signed with the Raiders in 2020 and only got an opportunity to play in one game this past season. However, he made the most of his opportunity. Mariota came in for an injured Carr and nearly led the Raiders to a primetime win over the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 15.

His final numbers (17-for-28, 226 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 9 rushes, 88 rushing yards, and a rushing TD) might not sound exciting, but if you saw the game, you know he played well. Perhaps teams like the Patriots will watch that performance and see something that makes them feel comfortable.

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