The New England Patriots appeared to take themselves out of the Marcus Mariota sweepstakes on Friday morning when it was reported that they agreed to a one-year deal with quarterback Cam Newton.
Newton's deal will pay him up to $14 million this year, though the contract is heavily incentivized. They had previously been the betting favorite to land Mariota, but now, it looks like Las Vegas Raiders will have to find a different trading partner for Mariota.
That is, if they can find one. The Raiders have been looking to move Mariota for some time, but interest in Mariota on the trade market has "dried up significantly" in recent weeks. The reason for that is simple.
Mariota has some escalators in his contract that would kick in if he's traded and make him a much more expensive commodity (potentially north of $18 million). As such, the Raiders aren't getting much of a nibble from teams, and they could be forced to cut him rather than trade him if he doesn't want to restructure his contract in any potential deal.
That said, if Mariota is cut, it seems likely that the interest in him league-wide would be high. With Newton now off the market, Jameis Winston, Jacoby Brissett, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Mitchell Trubisky are among the best names on the free-agent market. You could certainly argue that Mariota has more talent and upside than all of them, so quarterback-needy teams could vie for his services. They just don't want to offload draft assets for him and pay him $18 million-plus.
There certainly seems to be a level of interest in Mariota. The Washington Football Team was reportedly having trade talks with the Raiders earlier this offseason, but those fizzled. Another NFC East team, the Philadelphia Eagles, has reportedly expressed an interest in Mariota as well. And some of the other QB-needy teams across the league include the Chicago Bears, the Carolina Panthers, and the Houston Texans (if Deshaun Watson truly refuses to play for them).
And hey, maybe the Raiders can hold onto him if they think they can squeeze an asset out of a team later in the offseason.
There are still options for Mariota. It just doesn't look like the Patriots will be one of them after the Newton signing. So, that will narrow his list a bit and take away one of the potential top suitors on the market.
We'll see where the former Oregon Ducks star lands in the coming weeks. With free agency starting in a matter of days, he will hopefully have an answer about his future very soon.