Marcus Mariota free agency 2020: Top landing spots, projected contract, latest updates, rumors and more


What a difference a year makes. Last offseason, Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota was preparing to become one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL. All he had to do was have a good season in 2019, get the Titans to the playoffs and secure the bag. However, the former No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft lost four out of his first six starts, and was benched for Ryan Tannehill. To make matters worse, the offense immediately improved with Tannehill under center, and he ended up taking the Titans to the AFC Championship game and picked up the Associated Press Comeback Player of the Year award on the way.

Mariota’s future is now unclear. He hits the open market at a horrible time, as more attractive prospects such as Tom Brady, Philip Rivers and Teddy Bridgewater are also searching for new NFL homes. Who will take a shot on Mariota? Will he have to serve as a backup? What kind of contract should he expect?

As we move forward toward the start of NFL free agency, this will serve as the hub for all Mariota-related free agent updates. From the latest rumors to his projected contract on the open market, the top landing spots and a lot more; when it comes to his free agency we will have it all here. 

Top landing spots for Mariota in no particular order

  1. Chicago Bears
  2. New England Patriots
  3. Los Angeles Chargers
  4. Las Vegas Raiders
  5. Indianapolis Colts

The Bears want to bring in a veteran to challenge Mitchell Trubisky — much like the Titans did with Tannehill last year. Mariota is not exactly a “veteran,” but he’s someone who has starting experience. If things fall flat with Trubisky in year four, the Bears need to have someone behind him with both experience and potential to take over the franchise. Mariota fits that description. 

If Brady does indeed leave New England, one has to wonder what kind of quarterback Bill Belichick and the Patriots would pursue. Would it be a rookie with potential, or a younger player with starting experience? Mariota could be a dark horse for the Patriots in that sense. Additionally, even if Brady does stay with the Patriots, New England will want to prepare for life after Brady — which is quickly approaching. If anyone can get the most out of Mariota and turn him into a legitimate NFL weapon, you have to imagine it’s the folks in Foxborough. 

The Chargers have already made it known that they are moving on from Rivers, so there is clearly a spot open in Los Angeles. The thought is that the Chargers will draft a signal caller in the upcoming draft, but it’s not a given. Again, the quarterback market is worth taking a look at, so Mariota could find himself back as a starter with the Chargers.

It would be pretty wild to see Mariota stay within the division — especially if it was as a starter — but it could happen with the Colts. Indianapolis underachieved with Jacoby Brissett under center in 2019 and they could be looking to make a change. I’m sure they will take a swing at someone like Rivers, but they could end up with Mariota if they are set on making a change. He knows the AFC South and maybe the chance to take on the Titans twice a year will put a chip on his shoulder. 

It’s not a given that the Raiders will want to move on from Derek Carr, but Jon Gruden is always interested in different quarterbacks. If the Raiders do stick with Carr as they make the move to Vegas, Gruden may want to sign someone who can put pressure on Carr. I admit this is not likely, but it’s possible nonetheless. 

Projected market value for Mariota in free agency

Thanks to the fifth-year option Tennessee utilized, Mariota made $20.9 million in 2019 despite playing in just seven regular-season games. Projecting what Mariota’s contract will look like in 2020 is a tough task. Will a team take a flier on him as a starter or will he be signed as a backup? 

Remember Mike Glennon? The quarterback the Bears signed just a month or so before they drafted Trubisky? I found the contract they gave him in 2017 interesting. It was a three-year deal worth $45 million but only $18.5 million was guaranteed over three years. Basically, it was a one-year, $16 million deal with team options for the last two years, as Albert Breer put it. One has to wonder if Mariota will get a contract similar to that, or maybe a decent one-year prove-it deal. This could change, but I’m guessing it will look something like one-year, $10 million with a guaranteed salary of $6 million. Again, who knows what teams are thinking concerning his potential. Maybe the Patriots lock Mariota up for two or three years.

Scouting report on Mariota (pros and cons):

Pros:

  • Only 26-years-old and there’s no denying he possesses talent
  • Dual-threat, athletic quarterback: Has rushed for 1,399 yards and 11 touchdowns in his career
  • Experience: Has started 61 career games (29-32)

Cons:

  • Inconsistent play: Hasn’t been able to match his totals from breakout 2016 season
  • Steps into sacks other quarterbacks know how to avoid, pocket presence is questionable
  • Injury issues: Has never played a full 16-game season

Rumors, reports and updates

CBS NFL Insider: Patriots should sign Mariota

Monday, March 2: CBS NFL Insider Jason La Canfora believes the Patriots need to sign Mariota this offseason since they can help him reach his full potential. Read his piece, here.

Mariota a candidate to win Comeback Player of the Year in 2020?

Monday, Feb. 24: “Now an unrestricted free agent, it seems more likely that Mariota will secure a backup gig instead of the opportunity to take over immediately with a new franchise. Mariota clearly has talent, but he needs a change of scenery and a staff that can help him develop into the best NFL quarterback possible. He’s only 26, so he will have some suitors on the open market.”

Read more from Jordan Dajani’s story, here

Mariota has ‘no doubts’ he can be a starting, winning quarterback

Monday, Jan. 20: “In his four seasons with the Titans, Mariota has passed for 13,207 yards, 76 touchdowns and 44 interceptions. His best season came in 2016, when he passed for 3,426 yards, 26 touchdowns and just nine interceptions. For whatever reason, the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner struggled after his second season in the league. 

Despite those struggles, Mariota says he has no doubts that he can be a starting, and winning, quarterback in the NFL.

‘I have no doubts at all, no doubts at all,’ Mariota said. ‘I’m just hopeful and ready for whatever that next opportunity is.'”

Read more from Jordan Dajani’s story, here





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