Ducks

Marcus Mariota excited to prove himself in return to the Raiders

Ducks

It was expected this offseason that Marcus Mariota would have a chance to leave the Las Vegas Raiders and fight for a starting job with another team.

After all, he had looked good in his one appearance in relief of an injured Derek Carr. And with Carr firmly entrenched as the starter and several other teams across the NFL needing quarterbacks, it looked like the former Oregon Ducks star may be able to land elsewhere and compete for a top quarterback job.

Instead, the market for Mariota never quite developed. Because of escalators in his contract, there was little trade interest in him. And instead of opting to test the open market when the Raiders gave him an ultimatum -- take a pay cut or be cut -- he opted to take the pay cut.

Instead of making north of $10 million, Mariota will now make $3.5 million with up to $8 million in incentives. It's a sharp decline in pay, but Mariota isn't worrying about it and is focusing on just one thing.

I’m just excited to be a Raider.

Marcus Mariota to KHON2 Sports Director Rob DeMello

Beyond that, Mariota confirmed that he just loves playing football and wanted to focus on what he can control as opposed to the unknown.

"I think at the end of the day. I focus on controlling what I can control," Mariota said, to KHON2's Rob DeMello, as transcribed by Christian Shimabuku. "That's the product in the field. Every day I wake up, I train, and get ready to go.

 

"At the end of the day, we're very blessed to play this game for a living. A lot of us make a really good amount of money. For me, I just love playing the game. The excitement, the opportunity to be a Raider, overcame all of that. To be here in Vegas, to be a part of this organization meant a lot more to me. I'm excited to be able to come back."

It's also worth noting that Mariota is feeling healthier than he has in season's past, and he noted the "stability" he would get by staying with the Raiders. Those two factors could help him be productive on the field once again.

I feel like I’ve gotten healthy. I have an opportunity to have a little bit of stability, something that’s kind of been elusive in my career. I’m just excited to be in a place that I’m comfortable. I’m confident. I’m just going to do everything I can help this team win.

Marcus Mariota to KHON2 Sports Director Rob DeMello

Certainly retaining Mariota at this price is a great move for the Raiders, as they now have one of the best backups in the NFL. While Carr is the clear-cut No. 1 quarterback there, Mariota shouldn't provide much of a downgrade at all if he needs to start.

Also, if Mariota performs well during the offseason and preseason (if there is one), he could capture the attention of a QB-needy team. With his contract renegotiated and the previously troublesome escalators gone, teams may be willing to consider trading for him. That's something to consider with this deal as well.

No matter what happens with Mariota, he seems content where he is. Whether he backs up Carr or eventually has to see some action this year, the Raiders have to be thrilled that they were able to keep him at a discounted price.