The marriage that never was could soon turn into a first date. The Las Vegas Raiders are expected to cut quarterback Marcus Mariota after the trade market dried up. Is the 27-year-old finally headed to the Philadelphia Eagles?
Mariota was long rumored to be a favorite draft target of former coach Chip Kelly in 2015. The Oregon product thrived under Kelly’s system in college and the Eagles were in dire need of a franchise quarterback at the time. However, the price to move up 18 spots — Mariota went number two to the Tennessee Titans — proved too rich for Philly and they settled for USC receiver Nelson Agholor at 20th overall.
The Eagles dodged a bullet and Mariota never panned out in Tennessee, but he’s been doing yeoman’s work as a backup in Vegas. Now he needs a change of scenery so don’t be too surprised if a 215 area code calls his agent’s phone. The Eagles are pushing hard to acquire a veteran quarterback to compete with Jalen Hurts in training camp. Mariota could be the perfect fit — assuming he’s all healed up from last year’s pectoral injury that limited him to one game.
“We switched gears. We went to a completely different world offensively in a lot of places,” Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said of Mariota’s one game under center, via Sports Illustrated. “Mariota still proved he’s a dual-threat. He’s obviously very sharp. He can handle a lot of situations. And if need be, he’ll be ready again.”
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Making Sense of Mariota’s Crazy Contract
The main issue regarding any potential offseason move for Eagles GM Howie Roseman will be the financial impact. The franchise has resorted to cutting Super Bowl heroes and aging veterans in an effort to clear up salary-cap space. They own the second-worst cap situation in football. And Mariota is in year two of a very expensive $17.6 million deal in Vegas.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Mariota could make more than $20 million in incentives on his current deal. It’s an insane number that the Eagles could never afford. However, the Raiders are now talking about releasing Mariota and saving $11.35 million. Interesting.
If he’s cut, any franchise can take a flier on him and then negotiate on a much cheaper contract. It’s kind of a win-win for Philly who could stack their quarterbacks room with two dual-threat playmakers at the position. Mariota went 17-of-28 for 226 yards and a touchdown in his lone start last year for the Raiders, plus he ran for another 88 yards and a score.
Nick Sirianni Familiar with Mariota
New Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni has never actually worked with Mariota in any previous stops but he’s very familiar with his work. The two were rivals in the heated AFC South where they faced each other on two occasions. Sirianni’s Colts beat Mariota’s Titans in both meetings (2018, 2019) while holding the quarterback to 239 combined passing yards.
But there’s more than just the divisional connection between them. Sirianni flew out to scout Mariota at Oregon prior to the 2015 draft when he served as quarterbacks coach for the San Diego Chargers. Philip Rivers was starting to show signs of age out there and the Chargers held the 17th overall pick. There was a legit rumor (per Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Tribune) that the Chargers were shopping Rivers and that pick to move up to take him at No. 2.
So … clearly, Sirianni thinks highly of Mariota and he could strike the perfect competitive balance that his new team seeks. Other veteran names being thrown out there are Jacoby Brissett, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Tyrod Taylor.
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