When the Rams and Lions finalized a blockbuster trade, swapping starting quarterbacks Jared Goff and Matthew Stafford, it seemed like it would be the beginning of a wild, fast-paced offseason, filled with all sorts of splashy quarterback trades. But we had to wait nearly three weeks for the next move: the Eagles deal to send Carson Wentz to the Colts. Now, Ian Rapoport says we might have to be patient for the next big trade.
“Everybody seems pretty stuck right now,” Rapoport said on “NFL Now.” “Here are the reasons why: The Jets are not going to make a decision on Sam Darnold until at least they complete their quarterback evaluations. That is not going to happen until at least April. So you got time there.
“When teams have called the Texans about Deshaun Watson… what they’ve been told essentially, is ‘no’ on Watson, but potentially could talk about a bunch of other players. But ‘no’ on Watson.”
But what about a deal with the Raiders? It seems unlikely the team keeps both Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota, and recent reports (including from Rapoport) suggested talks for Mariota were gaining traction.
“Things did get down the line a little bit, and there is significant interest in teams trying to get Marcus Mariota to come in and play quarterback for them,” Rapoport said. “But there is an issue. Take a look at his contract: he’s due a little more than $10 million this year. If he’s going to be a bridge starter— which would be the role he’d come in and play— that’s not bad. That’s actually not the issue. The issue is, based on incentives, if he is the starter and ends up playing the entire season he could make an additional $12 million. So more than $20 million for Marcus Mariota. Teams right now don’t seem to see that as something that would be worth it, especially when you consider they’d give up a draft pick to trade for him.
“That trade market has now dried up significantly, leading to the question: Could Mariota be released and then end up picking his own team, and getting some more guaranteed money in the process? That might work out better for him, and potentially better for the Raiders, than anything else.”
How could that work out better for the Raiders? Well if they trade him they would get some draft picks back, but may have to pay part of his salary as part of any deal. If they cut him, they could save nearly $11 million dollars, with $0 in dead money, according to Spotrac. Already projected to be over the cap, the Raiders will need to make room. Using Rapoport’s reasoning, clearing all that money could be more valuable than whatever return the Raiders would get for Mariota.
If the Raiders do cut Mariota, instead of trading him, could that hurt the Bears’ chances of acquiring him, since they’d have to sign him as a free agent? That’s another story for another day. Until then, all we can do is sit and wait.
“It seems everyone is kind of stuck waiting for the next shoe to drop,” Rapoport said. “But I don’t get the sense it’s any time soon.”