The Titans season ended and so, too, has Marcus Mariota's time in Tennessee.
After the Titans 35-24 loss to the Chiefs, the Heisman Trophy winner was confronted with the reality that he'll be an unrestricted free agent heading into next season.
Benched in favor of Ryan Tannehill midway through the season, Mariota remained a consummate professional. He accepted head coach Mike Vrabel's decision, even if he might not have agreed with it.
And rather than try to force his way out or become a disruptive teammate, Mariota took the high road. He stuck with it.
Now, it's time to move on.
Here was the scene in the locker room postgame.
Marcus Mariota is walking up to every player in the Titans’ locker room, one after another, now working through the defensive guys, to shake hands and hug them. A quiet, quick message for each one. Always classy.— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) January 19, 2020
Always classy, indeed.
Reflecting on this past season, Mariota said, "It’s been a true pleasure. The organization took a chance on me and I felt like I gave them everything I’ve got. We’re not sure what’s gonna happen but I know when it’s all said and done that I gave this organization everything I could."
Mariota threw for over 13,000 passing yards with 76 passing touchdowns. Add another 1,400 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground.
In the process, here are some of the franchise records he holds:
- Most passing touchdowns in a season by a rookie: 19
- Most completions in a season by a rookie since moving to Tennessee: 230
- Most passing yards in a season by a rookie since moving to Tennessee: 2,818
- Most passing attempts in a season by a rookie since moving to Tennessee: 370
- Most rushing yards in a game by a quarterback: 112
- Longest run by a quarterback: 87 yards
- Youngest quarterback in franchise history to throw for over 300 yards in a game since moving to Tennessee: (21 years, 332 days) September 27, 2015
- First quarterback to catch a touchdown reception
- First player to throw a touchdown pass to himself
- First rookie to start at quarterback in Week 1
- Highest single game completion percentage (95.7)
Despite all of that, the Titans moved away from Mariota. The Titans made the playoffs and advanced to the AFC Championship Game and became an integral part in the team's preparation for Lamar Jackson.
Until the end, Mariota showed how a professional is supposed to act.
It's been a gift, it's been a true pleasure," Mariota said. "The organization took a chance on me... Obviously, we're not sure what's going to happen, but when it's all said and done, I gave this organization everything I got. "
So, what has Mariota learned throughout his career and this most recent experience of getting benched?
"Faith," he said. "Having faith in things you can’t really see. No matter what happens, I know I gave it everything I got and we’ll see what happens next."