Patriots Rumored Trade Target Could Be a Free Agent Soon

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The New England Patriots have reportedly inquired about several potential candidates to fill their starting quarterback position. That would include the Las Vegas Raiders’ Marcus Mariota, whose name has been hot in trade talks.

According to a recent report from NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, Mariota might be released rather than traded because potential suitors reportedly see his current contract’s max-value as a bit off-putting.

If Mariota is released, he could sign with any team he likes, and that club wouldn’t need to give up a draft asset to acquire him.

That would probably be more to the Patriots’ liking as they can sign him to the deal they feel is best while not parting ways with picks.

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Mariota’s Contract

Mariota’s contract represents a salary cap hit of $11.4 million for the upcoming season. However, he could earn upwards of $20 million in incentives. Even the base salary is a lot for the Raiders, considering he’s the backup behind Derek Carr. The incentives make it nearly impossible he’ll return to Las Vegas in 2021.

Mariota collects $625,000 for every game he plays, where he takes at 60 percent of the snaps. That caps out as an additional $7.5 million if he reaches that standard in every game. He would also earn up to an additional $1.875 million for the games his team wins, in which he plays 60 percent of the snaps.

Mariota can collect another $2 million if he helps guide the team to the playoffs. The $20 million amount isn’t horrible for a guy who takes your team to the postseason. Still, Mariota would be far more attractive to a team who can sign him to a new deal–which would represent more guaranteed money for him–and possibly less of a chunk of his new team’s salary cap.

Here is what Rapoport said about the situation:

This is an interesting one, because a couple days ago, it really seemed like Marcus Mariota was going to be on the move. I know teams were interested and were calling the Las Vegas Raiders about potentially acquiring Marcus Mariota, and things did get down the line a little bit. There is significant interest in teams trying to get Marcus Mariota to come in and play quarterback for them. But there is an issue. Take a look at his contract. He’s due a little more than $10 million this year. If he’s going to be a bridge starter, which would be the role he’d come in and play, that’s not bad. That’s actually not the issue. The issue is, based on incentives, if he is the starter and ends up playing the entire season, he could make an additional $12 million. So more than $20 million for Marcus Mariota. Teams, as of right now, don’t seem to think that’s something that would be worth it, especially when you consider they’d also give up a draft pick to trade for him. That trade market has now dried up significantly, leading to the question: Could Mariota be released and then end up picking his own team?


Would Mariota Choose the Patriots?

While it might have cost the Patriots more, acquiring him via trade might have been easier. He doesn’t have a no-trade clause, so if the Raiders shipped him to New England in exchange for a third-round pick, the Patriots’ only competition would come in the form of other interested teams with the expendable draft assets.

If Mariota is released, he will pick his destination from what will likely be a group of interested teams. For example, suppose the Chicago Bears (who could franchise tag Allen Robinson), Denver Broncos, or Carolina Panthers come calling. In that case, one could argue they all have better offensive weapons than the Patriots.

Mariota might be more inclined to sign with a team with reliable receivers to help him revive his career. The Patriots have arguably the worst wide receivers and tight ends in the NFL.
Is that attractive to a free-agent QB? Probably not, but we’ll see.

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