Raiders: Initial grade for the Marcus Mariota signing

Raiders, Marcus Mariota (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
Raiders, Marcus Mariota (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) /

The Las Vegas Raiders have reportedly signed quarterback Marcus Mariota to an undisclosed contract. How does this signing initially grade out?

The Las Vegas Raiders didn’t make the huge free-agent splash on Day 1 of free agency that many fans had hoped for, but they did make a pair of signings including one of former top draft pick Marcus Mariota.

Rumors had swirled for weeks that the Raiders had interest in signing the 2015 No. 2 overall draft pick. The move made a ton of sense at the time and now that it’s happened, we can properly grade it.

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Now, the exact details of the contract that was agreed to have yet to come out so we can’t look at the financial impact. However, it is fair to speculate that it’s likely a short-term deal for high-end backup money.

Perhaps a two-year, $16 million contract makes sense — but that’s purely speculation.

What we can evaluate, however, is why this makes sense for the Raiders and how he fits on the roster going forward. We learn a few things from this move, most notably that Derek Carr is still the guy in Vegas.


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Signing Marcus Mariota is likely indicative of the Raiders’ plans at the quarterback position. It seems they are intent on having Mariota back-up Carr to begin the year, but giving the former Fresno State star a relatively small leash.

Mariota is here to push Carr and help him return to his 2016 form. But he’s also here to be an insurance policy in case things go wrong.

The Oregon product is different from most backups around the league in that he comes with plenty of upside. Mariota is a former Heisman Trophy winner who was high-touted coming out of college.

Injuries and coaching turnover have clearly prevented him from reaching his potential, but he’s a talented quarterback who is young and possesses untapped potential.

On top of that, he has been widely praised for his leadership and professionalism — especially while dealing with the Ryan Tannehill situation last year.

It’s hard to find a better back-up quarterback than that.

Was this the most exciting route the Raiders could have taken? No, not at all. But it is a sound plan that makes sense and allows the team to use precious cap space and draft capital on other important positions of need.

Linebacker has already been addressed with the Nick Kwiatkoski signing and the Raiders likely aren’t done there. Next up, cornerback and wide receiver must be upgraded.

But for now, the Mariota signing paints a clearer picture as to what the franchise’s plan is. Again, things could change. While it’s unlikely they go this route, there have been rumors that the Raiders could select a quarterback in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

And at the moment, Tom Brady is still a free agent.

But the overwhelming odds are that the Raiders go into 2020 with Carr as the starter, Mariota as the competitive backup, and have Nathan Peterman and DeShone Kizer compete for the third-string role.

That’s a solid quarterback room that is upgraded with the addition of Marcus Mariota. He might not be the answer, and the same could still be said for Carr.

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But if either is going to find success, they are now put in the best situation to do so.

Final Grade: B+