In what feels like eons ago, Marcus Mariota was dotting his Heisman Trophy winning season with impressive performances left and right. He was breaking records for points scored in a Rose Bowl at the same time trouncing the defending National Champions.
He graced the cover of multiple magazines, became the darling of NFL draft pundits and ultimately became the second overall pick behind Jameis Winston, selected to the Tennessee Titans in the 2015 NFL Draft. He threw four touchdowns in his debut performance and saw his first three seasons with the Titans go down largely as a relative success.
However, as with any quarterback of major fame, any issues with his respective team ultimately fall on his shoulders and with a prolonged injury history in his NFL career to date, Mariota fell victim to criticism and became the scapegoat for any troubles that befell the Titans. Ultimately, he lost the starting job after a rough two-game stretch (and injury) to a WR-turned-QB in Ryan Tannehill and became expendable for the Titans on the open market this offseason.
Enter Las Vegas.
The Raiders have been linked to drafting a quarterback early with one of their draft picks this offseason and though they’ve agreed to sign Mariota to a new contract, the terms of the deal have not been announced and he’s presumably sliding into the No. 2 spot on the team’s depth chart behind Derek Carr. According to my colleague Bill Williamson, that’s exactly where Mariota is sliding into on the Raiders depth chart:
The idea that Mariota will back up Derek Carr and potentially push him if Carr falters makes sense and it’s probably going to be the Raiders’ approach. They got a high-level backup and that will likely be what happens. But, it doesn’t necessarily mean the Raiders won’t find a new starter to replace Carr. I’m not saying that will happen. But signing a backup doesn’t mean much for the starting job.
Mariota likely becomes a proven, high-end veteran backup for the Raiders, pushing Carr and coming to Carr’s aid if he were to be injured.
So while it seems highly likely that we don’t see Mariota as the starter to open the year, I’d be remiss if I didn’t also bring up the fact that current Raiders general manager Mike Mayock couldn’t hide his love for Mariota during his time on NFL Network’s draft coverage as a draft analyst. Or also current Raiders head coach Jon Gruden’s infatuation with Mariota during his time with ESPN on his show ‘Gruden’s QB Camp.’
Now, both of those were televised shows, airing five years ago, so whether or not those sentiments ring true after five years in the NFL is a completely different story. Still, it is interesting to note and once the contract is announced, a little more light will shine onto what perhaps the plans are with Mariota in Vegas.
Either way — a Silver and Black jersey with ‘Mariota 8’ on the back seems about nice for fans in Vegas, the city dubbed ‘the ninth Hawaiian island.’