Marcus Mariota

Raiders Activate Marcus Mariota From IR

Marcus Mariota is back on the Raiders’ active roster. The Raiders activated the former Heisman Trophy winner from IR on Tuesday, and he will resume his backup role in Week 7.

Derek Carr is coming off one of his best games as a pro, when he led the Raiders to a 40-32 upset win over the Chiefs. While Mariota was given a lucrative QB2 deal in March, he no longer looks like a threat to take over for Carr. But this will certainly help Las Vegas’ depth.

The former No. 2 overall pick landed on the Raiders’ IR list prior to Week 1 because of a strained pectoral muscle. Mariota has battled injuries since his Christmas Eve 2016 leg break — the same day as Carr’s — and saw his starter status end when the Titans demoted him for Ryan Tannehill last year. But the longtime Tennessee starter will begin backing up Carr this weekend; the team hosts the Buccaneers on Sunday night.

The Raiders gave Mariota a two-year, $17.6MM deal to back up Carr and likely push the six-year incumbent. But Carr has made incremental strides under Jon Gruden, despite constant rumors of these parties separating. He ranked 10th in QBR last season, leads the NFL with a 73.1% completion rate and has an 11-1 TD-INT ratio. Carr threw for 347 yards and added three touchdown passes against the Chiefs.

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Raiders Place Marcus Mariota On IR, Add DeShone Kizer To P-Squad

The Raiders have placed quarterback Marcus Mariota on injured reserve, per a club announcement. For added insurance, the club has added one-time Notre Dame star DeShone Kizer to the Raiders’ practice squad. 

Mariota’s strained pectoral muscle will keep him out for at least three weeks, per the league’s modified rules for 2020. Without him, the Raiders are rolling with two QBs on the active roster – Derek Carr and Nathan Peterman. Mariota’s temporary absence may take a little bit of pressure off of Derek Carr, who has certainly heard the footsteps. Mariota, who was leapfrogged by Ryan Tannehill in Tennessee, finished the year with a career-low 59.4% completion rate and just 1,203 yards.

Kizer has been on the workout trail ever since he was cut by the club in May, but those tryouts didn’t land him a deal. Now, the 2017 second-round pick will stick around in Las Vegas as he waits for his next opportunity. Kizer, 24, has made 18 appearances over the course of his NFL career, most of which came during the Browns’ winless season. All in all, he’s got eleven touchdowns against 24 interceptions.

Here’s the full rundown of the Raiders’ practice squad after Monday’s move:

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Contract Details: Brees, Mariota, Apple

Let’s take a closer look at the details of a few recently-signed free agent contracts:

AFC

  • Marcus Mariota, QB (Raiders): Two years, $17.6MM $7.5MM guaranteed. $2.4MM in incentives available in 2020 (60% snaps). $1.5MM in playtime and win incentives. $10MM in similar incentives available in 2021. $2MM in playoff/Super Bowl wins each year. $12MM 2021 salary escalator (Twitter link via Mike Garafolo of NFL.com).
  • Eli Apple, QB (Raiders): One year, $6MM. Fully guaranteed. $500K available via incentives (Twitter link via Garafolo.
  • Pierre Desir, CB (Jets): One year, ~$3.75MM. Max value of $5.5MM via incentives (Twitter link via Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News).
  • Chad Henne, QB (Chiefs): Two years, $3.25MM. $2MM guaranteed. Max value of $7.25MM (Twitter link via Tom Pelissero of NFL.com).
  • Nelson Agholor, WR (Raiders): One year, veteran salary benefit. $887K guaranteed. $137K signing bonus (Twitter link via Pelissero).

NFC

  • Drew Brees, QB (Saints): Four years, $100MM. $25MM guaranteed. Void years used in 2022-23. Brees receives no-trade clause and no franchise/transition tag can be used after 2021 (Twitter link via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle).
  • Jalen Mills, DB (Eagles): One, $4MM. Up to $1MM available via incentives (Twitter link via Adam Caplan of SiriusXM NFL Radio).
  • Thomas Davis, LB (Redskins): One year, $3.5MM. $250K available via incentives (Twitter link via Pelissero).
  • Shon Coleman, T (49ers): One year, $2.2MM. $1.37MM signing bonus (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Miles Killebrew, S (Lions): One year, $2MM. $1.137MM guaranteed (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Jayron Kearse, S (Lions): One year, $2MM. Up to $1.25MM available via incentives (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Pharoh Cooper, WR (Panthers): One year, $1.21MM. $300K signing bonus (Twitter link via Wilson).

Raiders Agree To Terms With QB Marcus Mariota

Marcus Mariota is indeed heading to Vegas. The Raiders have agreed to terms with the free agent quarterback, reports Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review Journal (via Twitter).

As we passed along earlier tonight, Raiders starter Derek Carr isn’t going anywhere, as Mariota is expected to serve as the backup in 2020. There had been whispers for some time that the organization was eyeing the former second-overall pick, with the front office shifting priorities from a top-tier starter like Tom Brady to a solid backup who could push Carr.

The Titans traded for Ryan Tannehill last offseason, insisting that he was going to be Mariota’s backup. Of course after Mariota struggled to start the year he was quickly benched in favor of Tannehill, who ended up leading Tennessee to the AFC Championship Game and earning a massive extension. In total, Mariota finished the year having completed a career-low 59.4-percent of his passes for 1,203 yards, seven touchdowns, and two interceptions.

While Mariota will temporarily be slotted in as the backup in Las Vegas, he could eventually push Carr for the full-time gig if the incumbent starter struggles. Mariota has shown flashes throughout his career, including a 2016 season when he tossed 26 touchdowns and ran for a pair of touchdowns. The 26-year-old has also started a pair of playoff games during his career, throwing for four touchdowns vs. only one interception.

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Raiders Close With Marcus Mariota

Well this is certainly going to raise a lot of eyebrows around the league. The Raiders are “pushing to close out a deal” with free agent quarterback Marcus Mariota, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network (Twitter link).

While Mariota is a high profile addition, this doesn’t mean the end is near for Derek Carr, as Sirius XM NFL Radio insider Adam Caplan tweets that Mariota has been their top choice to backup Carr. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweeted that Vegas has had eyes on Mariota for a long time, and that’s what we heard a couple weeks ago. The thinking at the time was that the Raiders had shifted from pursuing a top-tier starter like Tom Brady to pursuing a solid backup who can push Carr.

This all but certainly removes the Raiders from the Brady sweepstakes. While head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock will likely insist for the time being that Carr remains the starter, they likely wouldn’t be making this move if they were completely sold on him as the long-term answer under center.

Mayock has hedged all offseason when asked about Carr, and it’s been tough to get a read on how Gruden truly feels about him. We heard last month there was a “growing sense” that teams would inquire about trading for Carr. Interestingly enough, Mariota might find himself in a situation very similar to the one he was in last year, just on the opposite end.

The Titans traded for Ryan Tannehill last offseason, insisting that he was going to be Mariota’s backup. Of course after Mariota struggled to start the year he was quickly benched in favor of Tannehill, who ended up leading Tennessee to the AFC Championship Game and earning a massive extension. Now, Mariota might get the chance to do the same thing to Carr. As Garafolo points out Mayock had Mariota as his top-rated quarterback in the 2015 draft class, ahead of Jameis Winston who went first overall.

 

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Raiders Interested In Marcus Mariota

It looks the Raiders’ quarterback search has taken a turn. Instead of mounting a full-force pursuit for Tom Brady, the Raiders are now likelier to add a backup type to compete with Derek Carr, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com reports (via NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal, on Twitter), adding that Marcus Mariota is a Raider target.

The Raiders have been linked to Brady for several weeks, but not much has emerged on that front for a while. And the Titans appear to have moved ahead of the AFC West teams in their run at Brady. Their former first-round pick has options elsewhere.

The Raiders, Patriots and Colts have been connected to Mariota, and Garafolo points out the former Heisman Trophy winner was then-NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock‘s top-rated quarterback in 2015 (Twitter link).

Jon Gruden has sought a potential upgrade on Carr for a while now, and while Mariota does not profile as such, this is nonetheless an interesting development. The Raiders would be able to preserve more of their cap space with a Mariota addition than they would if they were to authorize a $30MM-plus-AAV deal for Brady. Las Vegas is interested in high-priced cornerbacks Byron Jones and Chris Harris.

Both Mariota and Carr peaked in 2016, with the former throwing 26 touchdown passes and the latter finishing third in the MVP voting that season. On Christmas Eve 2016, both players suffered broken legs. Mariota has fallen further than Carr since, totaling just 24 TD tosses in 29 games from 2017-18 and being benched for Ryan Tannehill midway through what became a Titans AFC championship game run last season. Carr finished 2019 with the best QBR (63.7, 10th in the league) of his career, doing so after the Raiders’ offense lost would-be No. 1 wide receiver Antonio Brown just before the season.

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Patriots, Colts Interested In Marcus Mariota

Although Marcus Mariota‘s benching helped accelerate the Titans’ first trip to the AFC championship game in 17 years, the former No. 2 overall pick will have options on the market.

Several teams are interested in the five-year Titans quarterback, Tony Pauline of ProFootballNetwork.com notes, adding the Patriots and Colts are two of them. This continues a QB rumors cycle that is starting to frequently feature the Colts and Pats.

The prospect of the Patriots losing Tom Brady is increasing, and the Colts appear to be doing due diligence. They have met with Brady’s representation and look to be the early favorites for Philip Rivers. Mariota may be a consolation prize but would certainly cost far less than Brady or Rivers would. The Colts have Jacoby Brissett and Brian Hoyer under contract for 2020, but Jim Irsay has left the door open for major quarterback moves.

In a complex situation, Mariota’s Patriots place could go in several directions. Mariota could be a Brady replacement at a much cheaper rate. The 2014 Heisman winner could also be thrust into a competition to be Brady’s replacement with a higher-profile name. The Pats used rookie Jarrett Stidham as Brady’s backup in 2019 but could be eyeing a Brady-Mariota setup, with Mariota then settling into a developmental role while the future Hall of Famer plays his final season(s).

Pauline notes teams could be preparing quarterback competitions are eyeing Mariota. It would then stand to reason the Bears are among the interested parties. They are preparing to bring in a veteran arm to push Mitchell Trubisky.

The Titans benched Mariota during a Week 6 shutout in Denver and saw Ryan Tannehill pilot them to playoff upsets in New England and Baltimore. Mariota has struggled since a 26-touchdown pass 2016 season but did help the 2017 Titans into the playoffs, where the Patriots routed them in a divisional-round game.

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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.

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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.