Marcus Mariota

Titans Won’t Trade Marcus Mariota

The Titans aren’t looking to trade recently downgraded quarterback Marcus Mariota, Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com tweets. By the same token, the Titans’ former starter isn’t looking for a way out of Nashville, either.

The Titans benched the former No. 2 overall pick against the Broncos a couple of weeks back and, in Week 7, they stuck with Ryan Tannehill as the starter. Mariota’s Titans future is very much in flux, but the team hasn’t given up on him yet.

Mariota has had his moments, but he’s struggled for the most part over the last three seasons. After lobbing 26 TD passes in 2016, the Oregon product has just 21 in his past 35 games. He posted a 50.6 QBR figure in 2018, but he left the Titans’ starting lineup with a 30.8 number — 29th out of 30 qualified quarterbacks.

Joining Jameis Winston as the first quarterbacks to play out fifth-year option seasons, Mariota may be in his final months with the Titans. He is a free agent at year’s end and has not come especially close to living up to his No. 2 overall draft slot. He remains a key depth piece for a Titans team that has won two straight in an AFC that is short on locked-in contenders. It’s understandable they would like to keep Mariota around for a possible playoff push.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Titans To Start Ryan Tannehill In Week 7

The Titans’ Week 6 switch at quarterback will carry over to their Week 7 game. Ryan Tannehill will start against the Chargers, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Mike Vrabel benched Marcus Mariota against the Broncos, and the former No. 2 overall pick will stay as the backup for at least one more game. This is obviously a key move for a Titans team that has Mariota in a contract year. Mariota, 25, and Jameis Winston are the first quarterbacks to play a season on a fifth-year option; neither has done much to justify an extension in 2019.

Mariota threw three touchdown passes against the Falcons’ bottom-end defense in Week 4 but has struggled for the better part of the past three seasons. After throwing 26 TD passes in 2016, the Oregon alum has just 21 in his past 35 games. He posted a 50.6 QBR figure in 2018 but exits the Titans’ starting lineup with a 30.8 number — 29th out of 30 qualified quarterbacks.

Tannehill will return to a starting lineup for the first time since Week 17 of last season. The former Dolphins first-rounder, taken three years before the Titans’ Mariota investment, came to Tennessee via trade. Speculated to be a threat to Mariota’s job upon arrival, Tannehill will attempt to stop a Titans skid. The Titans have scored just seven points since their Week 4 win in Atlanta.

Tannehil, 31, fared better than Mariota in Denver, completing 13 of 16 passes for 144 yards in Tennessee’s shutout loss. He did not live up to the Dolphins’ expectations, seeing knee problems play a key role in his Miami exit, but will have another chance to prove himself. The Dolphins agreed to adjust Tannehill’s contract, as a result making this a contract year for the longtime starter. Tannehill is now in a contract year as well.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Mariota, Moncrief, Colvin, Garrett

After an ugly loss to the Jaguars this past Thursday, Mike Vrabel said that the Titans are not considering a quarterback change at this time.

Marcus Mariota, who has been struggling this season, may have cleared 300 yards against the Jaguars, but his performance was underwhelming for the majority of the game. On the season, Mariota is averaging career-low marks in completion rate (61%) and QBR (38) despite being surrounded with arguably the most talented supporting cast of his career.

In fairness to the ex-Oregon star, Mariota has been sacked more times than anyone in league history through the first three weeks of the season. Still, the Titans offense has been dreadful, having scored just seven points in their last 79 minutes of play dating back to Week 2 against the Colts.

Ryan Tannehill, who was traded to the Titans this past spring, figures to get a chance under center sooner rather than later if Mariota continues to struggle.

Heres more from the AFC:

  • The Steelers started the season with high hopes for new receiver Donte Moncrief, but after he dropped five passes in the first two games, Mike Tomlin is benching him for Sunday afternoon’s Week 3 game against the 49ers. Moncrief signed a two-year, $9MM deal with the Steelers back in March. Moncrief’s absence likely means an increased role for second-year wide receiver James Washington.
  • The Texans will carry less dead money against their salary cap because Aaron Colvin signed with Washington after his $34MM contract was terminated by the organization. Colvin signed a one-year, non-guaranteed contract with Washington at an $805k rate. Because his contract contained offset language, Colvin is now due $6.742MM from the Texans, less than his guaranteed $7.5MM base salary for the season. Colvin, cut for performance issues after a rocky first season last year and a tough start to this year, has a $2MM cap charge in 2020 for the pro-rated portion of his $4MM signing bonus.
  • The NFL fined Myles Garrett $21,056k for each of his two roughing the passer penalties on Monday night in the Browns‘ victory against the Jets. The second penalty injured Trevor Siemian’s ankle, which ultimately ended his season“You do not want to put anybody out for the season,” Garrett said following the win. “That is their job. That is something that you do not do unless you love it, and you do not want to take that away from anybody. I hope [Siemian] comes back faster and stronger than he ever has. I wish the best for him.” Garrett was also fined $10,527k in Week 1 for hitting Delanie Walker in the face mask.

South Rumors: Mariota, Jags, Falcons, Bucs

This season did not produce the uptick in Marcus Mariota production the Titans wanted, but part of the reason for that was the starting quarterback’s multiple injuries. Elbow troubles plagued Mariota for much of this season, but he is not expected to need offseason surgery, Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com tweets. A nerve issue affected Mariota (11 touchdown passes, eight interceptions, 2,528 passing yards) this season and cost him a chance to help the Titans back into the playoffs, forcing Blaine Gabbert back into action in Week 17. Mariota is attached to a $20.9MM fifth-year option in 2019.

As the 2019 hiring period ignites, here’s the latest from the South divisions a

  • Dirk Koetter‘s interview for his old job as Falcons offensive coordinator will occur Saturday, Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com reports. The Falcons’ OC from 2012-14, Koetter is a free agent again after being fired by the Buccaneers. He may well be the leading candidate to succeed Steve Sarkisian running Atlanta’s offense. Matt Ryan has praised Koetter in the recent past. Mike Mularkey, Atlanta’s OC from 2008-11, and Darrell Bevell are the other known candidates.
  • The Jaguars voided the $7.1MM in remaining guarantees in Leonard Fournette‘s rookie contract. He has 50 days to file a grievance, and Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes Fournette surely will. Florio argues the contract does not include language addressing the voiding of guarantees for on-field misconduct, and such an omission will be key for the former top-five pick keeping those guarantees in his four-year deal.
  • Although the Jets are believed to be ready to make a run at Le’Veon Bell, Albert Breer of SI.com does not see that pursuit winning out. Instead, Breer said during an interview with Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd (via the Tampa Bay Times) the Buccaneers are his best guess as to who will be signing the running back’s checks in 2019. This would be interesting because of the Jets’ cap-space advantage ($106MM-plus to $17MM-plus, though the Bucs can clear a substantial amount of room without incurring dead money) and the fact Tampa Bay used a 2018 second-round pick on Ronald Jones.
  • Kyle Allen was not the first player summoned to action when Cam Newton was shut down, but he ended the season as the Panthers‘ quarterback. His short stay as the Panthers’ first-stringer earned him a legitimate chance to be Newton’s backup next season, Breer notes. Allen was a UDFA but came to college as a five-star recruit. He threw two touchdown passes and no interceptions in Carolina’s season-finale win over New Orleans.
  • Alex Okafor stood to miss a $400K bonus because he fell one sack short of the incentive’s five-sack threshold, but, interestingly, the Saints paid him the bonus anyway, per NOLA.com’s Luke Johnson. This could be a key component of the starting defensive end’s upcoming decision on whether or not to opt out of his contract. Okafor signed a two-year deal with a player option to stay in New Orleans and has until the final day of the 2018 league year to decide on the option.

Titans QB Marcus Mariota Not Expected To Play Week 17

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota is not expected to play in tonight’s do-or-die matchup against the Colts, per ESPN’s Chris Mortensen. Mariota is still listed as questionable and will test his arm during pre-game warmups, but he is battling a nerve condition caused by a stinger, and an independent spine specialist has advised Tennessee that the physical contact of a game could cause permanent damage.

The Titans did not have an immediate comment, and if they win tonight, it is unclear if Mariota would be available for the playoffs.

Mariota is also dealing with a foot injury, which Mortensen’s source says is a partially torn plantar fascia, but it appears the nerve condition is the bigger hurdle for Mariota at this point. Blaine Gabbert is expected to start in Mariota’s place, and Austin Davis, whom the Titans signed earlier this week, will serve as Gabbert’s backup.

Mariota was forced out of last Saturday’s win over the Redskins with the injury, and while it is not the same injury that led to his missing time earlier this season, it will seriously jeopardize the team’s chances of playing in January. The Titans are playing at home tonight, but they opened the week as slim one-point favorites, and Mariota’s uncertain playing status has shifted the odds in the Colts’ favor, as Tennessee is now a three-point underdog.

The winner of tonight’s matchup will make the playoffs, either as AFC South champions or as a wildcard. The loser will miss the postseason entirely. Gabbert and the Titans will need to be in top form to knock off Andrew Luck and the Colts.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Marcus Mariota’s Week 17 Status Uncertain; Titans To Sign Austin Davis

Going into their do-or-die Week 17 assignment, the Titans are again unsure about the availability of their starting quarterback.

Marcus Mariota was forced out of Saturday’s win over the Redskins with an elbow injury. Although Mike Vrabel said Monday (via Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com) this is a stinger and not the same injury that forced Mariota to miss time earlier this season, he did not commit to his starter being ready to face the Colts in the NFL’s 2018 regular-season finale.

The Titans did not provide much information on Mariota’s previous injury, one that did not subside quickly and forced the fourth-year passer to wear a glove on his throwing hand during the season’s first half. Vrabel did say Mariota feels better the Monday after this setback compared to his state following the Week 1 injury.

The team is taking precautions, however, with Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com reporting (via Twitter) Austin Davis will sign with Tennessee. This is a similar course of action to the Mariota-related strategy the Titans took in September. Davis signed with the Titans in late September but was released two weeks later. He does not have practice squad eligibility remaining, per McCormick.

Mariota may be limited this week, but Vrabel said that would not stop him from playing. Blaine Gabbert would start if Mariota cannot go.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Marcus Mariota In Line To Start In Week 12

The Titans are almost certainly going to have their starting quarterback running the show on Monday night. Marcus Mariota is no longer on the injury report after practicing in full Saturday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Mariota suffered a stinger against the Colts and was taken out midway through the Titans’ loss. He returned to practice this week and got in full workouts on Friday and Saturday after beginning the work week limited.

Troubled by an elbow injury during the early portion of the season and entering Week 9 with just three touchdown passes, Mariota threw four TDs in the next two Tennessee games — wins over Dallas and New England — and is an obviously significant component of the Titans’ playoff equation. He’s completing 67 percent of his passes, which would be far and away a career high, and is averaging 7.3 yards per attempt.

Blaine Gabbert came in for Mariota during the Titans’ 38-10 loss in Indianapolis but will not be in line to take snaps on Monday night against the Texans, barring another Mariota injury.

Injury Notes: Graham, Mariota, Darnold, Kupp

We learned earlier this week that Packers tight end Jimmy Graham had suffered a broken thumb, and it was expected that the former All-Pro would be out for the foreseeable future. However, head coach Mike McCarthy told reporters that Graham is going to try to play on Sunday against the Vikings.

“I know he intends to try to go,” McCarthy said (via ESPN’s Rob Demovsky). “That’s his intention…There’s going to be a transition through the practice week and see different splints and things like that. So that’s why you have to work through it.”

The 31-year-old has 34 receptions for 452 yards and two touchdowns during his first season in Green Bay. If he was forced to miss time, the Packers would likely turn to Lance KendricksRobert Tonyan Jr., and/or Marcedes Lewis.

Let’s take a look at some more injury notes from around the NFL…

  • Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota didn’t suffer an elbow injury during Sunday’s loss to the Colts. Instead, as head coach Mike Vrabel told reporters, the signal-caller suffered a “stinger” (via Jim Wyatt of Titans Online via Twitter). Mariota may get a second opinion, and there’s still hope that the quarterback can play on Monday against the Titans. Through nine games this season, the 25-year-old has completed 67.6-percent of his passes for 1,583 yards, seven touchdowns, and six interceptions. He’s also rushed for 255 yards and two scores on 47 carries. If Mariota is forced to miss Monday’s game, Blaine Gabbert would likely earn the start for Tennessee.
  • Jets quarterback Sam Darnold had ditched his walking boot, and ESPN’s Rich Cimini writes that the rookie was seen jogging during Monday’s practice. “It feels good. It feels great,” Darnold said of his right foot. “Nothing for me to complain about. No pain, either.” The quarterback missed the team’s last game against the Bills, but he got an extra week off thanks to the bye. If Darnold misses this weekend’s contest against the division-rival Patriots, the team will turn to veteran Josh McCown again.
  • While Cooper Kupp‘s season-ending injury certainly wasn’t promising, Rams coach Sean McVay revealed that the wideout underwent successful ACL surgery. “It went really well,” McVay said (via Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com). “He called right afterwards and he was in great spirits. I know if anybody is going to attack the rehab process the right way, it’s going to be Cooper Kupp. Fortunately, some of the things when you do get in there, none of the other things that sometimes can delay that rehab process were affected. It was a clean surgery, did a good job repairing that and we expect him to be able to make a good recovery. Looking forward to getting him back.” The 25-year-old was having another productive season before suffering the injury, hauling in 40 catches for 566 yards and six touchdowns in eight games.
  • Buccaneers offensive lineman Evan Smith suffered torn labrums in both hips, reports NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter). The veteran will have surgery in New York next Monday. The 32-year-old had appeared in seven games with Tampa Bay this season, serving primarily in a backup role. The team placed him on the injured reserve last week.

Injury Notes: Titans, Mariota, Falcons, McKinley, Colts, Doyle, Eagles, Ajayi

Marcus Mariota‘s injury remains a mystery. It hasn’t been disclosed exactly what he’s dealing with although it has reportedly caused him to lose some feeling in his hand. Blaine Gabbert started, and won, for the Titans last week, and it’s possible he’s asked to do so again this week against the Jaguars.

Titans coach Mike Vrabel told reporters that he would make the decision between Gabbert and Mariota within the next “24 hours” and that he would let them know then according to Jim Wyatt of the Titans’ official website (Twitter link). If Mariota can’t go it would be a huge blow for Tennessee against the league’s top defense. One thing that could make their matchup a bit easier is that Jalen Ramsey was added to the injury report Friday with an ankle injury, although it’s unclear if he’s in any danger of missing the game.

Here’s more injury updates from around the league:

  • The Falcons just can’t seem to catch a break. It was already known they’d be without Devonta Freeman and several other starters, but it was announced today that they’d also be without talented pass-rusher Takkarist McKinley. McKinley is currently dealing with a groin injury.
  • The Colts will be quite shorthanded for their trip to Philadelphia as the team ruled out tight end Jack Doyle, running back Marlon Mack, defensive tackle Denico Autry, and right tackle Anthony Castonzo. Doyle’s injury is a big blow, as he formed an effective tight end duo with Eric Ebron through the first two games.
  • The Eagles will also be significantly shorthanded on offense, with their backfield being particularly banged up. Running backs Jay Ajayi and Darren Sproles have been ruled out, while Corey Clement is questionable. If Clement isn’t able to go, the running back situation would be dire. Alshon Jeffery is questionable, but reporters have written that he’s very unlikely to play.

Injury Notes: Wentz, Bosa, Mariota

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports that Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz could be cleared for contact this week, and that may put him on track to make his 2018 debut in Week 3, as was suggested last Sunday. But Rapoport says the team is in no rush to have Wentz return to game action, because it is more concerned about the next 10 to 15 years, not the next 10 to 15 minutes. As such, if the Eagles need to keep Wentz out longer to make sure he is fully recovered from his torn ACL and LCL, they are fully committed to doing so.

However, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports that Wentz is indeed on track to be back under center for the Eagles against the Colts next week, and he suggests that Philadelphia will have no issue in deploying Wentz as soon as he is cleared for contract.

Now let’s take a look at a few more reports concerning injuries to some of the league’s biggest names:

  • This is not much of a surprise given a report from earlier this week, but Schefter reports that Chargers DE Joey Bosa is expected to be sidelined until at least October. Bosa is continuing to rehab his foot with the hope that the swelling goes down and the foot stabilizes, but surgery is still very much in play if that does not happen.
  • Titans QB Marcus Mariota has not yet regained complete feeling in his fingers, per Rapoport (Twitter link). Schefter adds (via Twitter) that Mariota is still unable to grip the football normally as a result, which means that Blaine Gabbert may be starting under center for Tennessee for at least Week 2.
  • Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette is unlikely to play against the Patriots today, per Schefter, but it sounds as though Fournette is making good progress in his recovery from the hamstring injury he suffered last week. Even if the second-year back is unable to suit up today, he could be back in action next week.
  • Rapoport confirms (via Twitter) a report from Tuesday that Panthers TE Greg Olsen is hoping to return much sooner than was originally anticipated when he fractured his foot in the team’s season-opening win over the Cowboys. Rapoport says that Olsen hopes to be back on the field in four to five weeks, and he will have the foot — the same one he broke last year — reevaluated after the season.
  • We received a status update on Packers QB Aaron Rodgers earlier today.