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After benching, Marcus Mariota leaves Falcons

Mike Florio and Chris Simms evaluate every team in the NFC to assess the likelihood of each one picking up a new QB for next season.

Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota is out. Literally.

After being benched for rookie Desmond Ridder for performance reasons, Mariota has left the team. And the team doesn’t know if he’ll be back.

Coach Arthur Smith has said Mariota will be placed on injured reserve. The minimum four-game absence would knock him out for the rest of the regular season. Via Josh Kendall of, Smith said Tuesday that Mariota is currently not with the Falcons.

Smith told Mariota last Thursday that he’ll be benched for Ridder. On Friday, Smith learned that Mariota planned to “step away” from the team.

In lieu of placing Mariota on injured reserve, the Falcons could cut Mariota. He’d then head to waivers, like Baker Mayfield did last week.

Mariota was the second overall pick in the 2015 draft. The Titans benched him for Ryan Tannehill in 2019.

After two seasons with the Raiders, Mariota signed a two-year deal with the Falcons. He received a $5 million signing bonus, and a fully-guaranteed salary of $1.75 million for 2022.

Without Mariota, Logan Woodside will serve as the backup to Ridder, a third-round pick in April.