In a market where it seems half the league seeks a new quarterback, Las Vegas Raiders backup Marcus Mariota will almost certainly be elsewhere next season.
Whether the Raiders trade him or cut him remains to be seen, but given Las Vegas has barely entertained trade offers for Derek Carr, the franchise clearly does not see Mariota as the guy and would rather use his salary cap space on other players. The Raiders even re-signed a different backup quarterback Nathan Peterman to begin the offseason.
The Washington Football Team, among the most popular destinations for Mariota to end up among pundits, reportedly tried to trade for Mariota but "talks have cooled off," according to The Athletic’s Ben Standig.
"Washington tried to acquire Marcus Mariota from the Raiders, according to multiple sources, but talks have cooled off," reported Standig.
Per the details of his contract, Mariota’s cap number will be just above $10.7 million in 2021. That's an expensive rate for a backup quarterback, but his salary will nearly double if he reaches certain incentives. Should Mariota play over 60 percent of snaps in 12 games next season, the quarterback will earn an additional $7.85 million. That salary jump deterred Washington from pulling the trigger on a deal because it " eliminates the idea of the No. 2 pick in 2015 as some cost-effective option."
But, a trade isn't out of the question. Standig added "reworking Mariota’s contract to cap his max in the $14 million to $15 million range, and fully guaranteeing that money, is plausible."
If a trade were to occur, Standig reports league sources tell him Washington would likely send a fifth-round pick. If a trade doesn't happen, the Raiders plan to cut Mariota rather than keep him as an expensive backup.
Last month, Michael Lombardi of The Athletic said Washington had its eye on Mariota.
"There's a lot of conversations about Mariota being traded. I know there's one team in the NFC East, the Washington Football Team, that's extremely interested in Mariota," said Lombardi.
For the majority of the season, Mariota was the backup to Carr for the Raiders but did see some time on the field in Week 15 vs. fellow former Oregon Duck quarterback Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers.
In that game, Mariota balled out - completing 60.7 percent of his passes for 226 passing yards, a touchdown, and one interception.
He also had 88 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground as well.
It wouldn’t be the worst move for Washington to go for Mariota. He does have experience (64 career games), he is mobile, has a strong arm, and is still young at the age of 27.
Washington re-signed Taylor Heinicke to a two-year, $4.75 million deal that includes $1.5 million guaranteed with a $1 million signing bonus according to JP Finlay of NBC Sports Washington. His cap hit in 2021 is $1,593,750 and in 2022 is $2.75 million.
Reigning NFL Comeback Player of the Year Alex Smith has no more guaranteed money remaining on his contract and given his age of 37, he may retire sooner than later.