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.