For the first time in what feels like forever, the Raiders finally have a viable backup quarterback. If Derek Carr goes down, coach Jon Gruden should have a QB behind him who can step in and get the job done.
Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock clearly made this a priority in the offseason by signing Marcus Mariota. The former No. 2 overall draft pick's contract had some fans wondering if a quarterback controversy is inevitable. Bleacher Report's Brent Sobleski had the same thought, which made him label Mariota as the Raiders' worst signing this offseason.
"The Raiders organization won't admit it publicly, but Gruden and Co. created a combustible situation with an almost inevitable upcoming competition between the two quarterbacks," Sobleski wrote. "Carr and Mariota are consummate professionals, but both will want to start."
Of course both will want to start. That doesn't mean there will be a "combustible situation" in Sin City, though. Mariota is to thank for that. He's the perfect backup to not create an ugly scene while still pushing his counterpart.
To no surprise if you have read anything about Mariota as a teammate or heard him speak after losing his starting job with the Tennessee Titans last season, he already is saying all the right things regarding he and Carr.
“First and foremost, this is Derek’s team. I understand that going in,” Mariota told Rob DeMello of KHON2, a television station in his native Hawai’i. “I think my priority was to be part of a team that would bring out the best in me. Whatever happens, whatever comes of that, I’m ready for.
“I do know that, to play starting quarterback in the NFL, to be at that spot, is not an easy job to do. I think, when it comes down to it, a strong, stable, supportive quarterback room makes that job a whole lot easier. That’s what we have to do. I’m going to do my best to support Derek in every possible way that I can.
"Along with that, I’m going to try to become the best player I can be and see where that takes me.”
Mariota made these comments late last month. He wants to compete, he wants to become a better player, but the last thing he will do is create a toxic locker room.
Don't just take his word, take what the QB who replaced him had to say. While watching his team succeed with Ryan Tannehill taking his job midway through last season, Mariota was there to support his teammate and fellow quarterback every step of the way.
"Marcus is an incredible human being, and I have so much respect and love for him," Tannehill said to Titans Online at the Pro Bowl. "... The way things went down, I don't think many guys in the world would handle it the way he did. He handled it like a true professional. He was supportive of me from Day One. I know he was hurting, and I tried to be empathetic with that throughout the season and give support to him as well.
"But he handled it so well -- he was supportive of me, helped me out on game days, in preparation during the week. He was just a consistent guy throughout the year.
"We are great friends and we will continue to be great friends."
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Mariota's two-year, $17.6 million contract is an expensive one for a backup. It also is filled with incentives where he could earn roughly $20 million more if he assumes the starting gig through most of 2020 and has serious success in 2021.
Carr has been questioned from the outside for years now, and this certainly doesn't help. More questions from the media will come, however, Mariota never will amplify those questions or concerns. That's not his style.
At one point or another, Mariota might step in for Carr as the Raiders' quarterback. Before that, though, he will continue saying the right things. "Controversy" is the last word you can associate with him.