Marcus Mariota: the quarterback Chip Kelly once wanted to trade Fletcher Cox, and a first-round pick, to acquire. With how bad Kelly was, the Eagles should be thankful they were able to dodge that bullet by failing to acquire Mariota. Now a free agent, Mariota will most likely have a backup role next season. The Eagles may be contenders to sign him.
The Beginning of his career:
Mariota was a stud at Oregon and the winner of the 2014 Heisman award. In 2015, the Tennessee Titans selected him second overall. He was drafted one pick after the Buccaneers took Jameis Winston with the first pick. I would say the Titans made a mistake with this pick; however, their quarterback the season before had been a Jake Locker, Zach Mettenberger, Charlie Whitehurst hybrid, that put the organization in a tough position. With Winston off the board, the best quarterback left on the board besides Mariota would have been Trevor Siemian. Horrible quarterback class right there.
Despite a lack of team success, Mariota had a solid rookie season. That year, he threw for 19 touchdowns compared to 10 interceptions, and 2,818 passing yards in 12 starts. Had it not been for Todd Gurley having a great season, Mariota could have been Offensive Rookie of the Year.
His best season (to this point in his career) was 2016. That season, Mariota threw for well over 3,000 yards and 26 touchdowns compared to just nine interceptions. However, Mariota suffered a fractured tibia during week sixteen of that season as the Titans missed the playoffs. He hasn’t been the same since.
Hampered by a nagging hamstring issue, Mariota’s production fell off in 2017 as he threw for just 13 touchdowns compared to 15 interceptions. Despite this, Tennessee made the playoffs at 9-7 and got a comeback win over the Chiefs where Mariota had one of the best games of his career before the team got blown out by New England in the divisional round.
Tennesse: 6 starts, 1203 passing yards, 7/2 TD/INT, 59.4 Cmp%, 7.5 Y/A
Mariota was again inconsistent in 2018 while dealing with multiple injuries. After a slow start to the 2019 campaign, HC Mike Vrabel benched Mariota in favor of Ryan Tannehill, who had the best year of his career. The Titans are expected to move on, which puts Mariota in a difficult position heading into free agency. It’s unlikely any team sees him as a starting option, but he could be the perfect backup for Carson Wentz.
Why the Eagles should sign him:
41-year-old Josh McCown gave it all he had in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs, but he is expected to retire this offseason. Third-string quarterback, Nate Sudfeld, is also a free agent, and shouldn’t be seen as a reliable backup quarterback given his lack of experience.
It’s no secret that Carson Wentz has struggled with injuries throughout his career. Nick Foles is no longer an option, and the Eagles have a greater need for a reliable backup quarterback because of Wentz’ injury history. Having a late-round draft pick as the rookie backup quarterback may put Philly in a tough position if Wentz gets injured again. While he hasn’t always looked good at times, Mariota does have starting experience in the NFL.
If Mariota gets the opportunity to start, he will likely choose that option over signing with Philadelphia. However, if not, it would undoubtedly be a low-risk option for Howie Roseman and the Eagles. It will be interesting to see what the Eagles do at backup quarterback when free agency starts on March 18.
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