NFL

Marcus Mariota & the Raiders are headed for a messy, complicated break-up-- here's why

NFL

For yet another offseason, Marcus Mariota appears to be available.

Last year, the former Oregon Ducks Heisman Trophy Winner signed a two-year deal with the Las Vegas Raiders to become the highest-paid back-up quarterback in the NFL. 

And while it seemed as though the Raiders were high on Mariota, it is looking more and more like Mariota will be on the move again, one way or another.

The very contract the Raiders signed Mariota to may very well be a poison pill. 

More on that in a moment.

[Listen & Subscribe to the Talkin' Ducks Podcast]

So far this offseason, there have been plenty of trade rumors swirling around him. He has been mentioned in connection with quarterback-needy teams like the New England Patriots and Washington Football Team, among others. 

Recently, Ben Standig of The Athletic spoke to some front-office executives about what a Mariota trade could cost.

With Las Vegas not looking to keep the 27-year-old for that much and only one year remaining on his contract, three front-office executives on the player personnel side think a fifth-round selection might be enough to acquire him.

Ben Standig, The Athletic

While a fifth-round pick sounds reasonable for Mariota at this time, a trade may not come to fruition.

Why is that? According to Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Mariota could end up on the market as a cap casualty because of the current state of the quarterback market.

 

With bigger-name QBs like Deshaun Watson, Carson Wentz, and even Russell Wilson being mentioned as potential trade targets, teams may focus their energy on those players instead of Mariota. Couple that with a strong 2021 quarterback draft class as well as a free-agent group headlined by former No. 1 picks Jameis Winston and Cam Newton and teams may prefer to target these players and avoid surrendering a draft-pick asset for Mariota.

It's also worth noting that Mariota has "escalator clauses" in his contract, as Standig noted. That could cause his overall cap hit and cost to go up and make Mariota a bit more expensive than he initially appears to be, which would complicate any potential trade.

Those factors, along with his $10.625 million salary being non-guaranteed, certainly make Mariota a candidate for release. The Raiders will likely hold onto him as long as they can in an attempt to get an asset for him, but if no offers come their way, they may have to part with him to free up some salary cap space.

Regardless of what happens with Mariota, he will, in all likelihood, end up somewhere where he'll have a chance to compete for a starting job. He's talented, as he showed in his outing against the Chargers where he threw for 226 yards and a TD while adding 88 yards and a score on the ground, and just needs to stay healthy to find success.