Assessing the Marcus Mariota Trade Market This Offseason

Nicholas Cothrel
Marcus Mariota Raiders QB
Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) against the Indianapolis Colts at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Recent reports have indicated Raiders quarterback Marcus Mariota is drawing interest from quarterback-needy teams around the NFL. So what does his trade market look like?

After just one season in Las Vegas as the Raiders’ backup quarterback, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday that teams have “legitimate and real interest” in acquiring Marcus Mariota.

Marcus Mariota trade Las Vegas raiders quarterback
Dec 17, 2020; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) runs the ball against the defense of Los Angeles Chargers strong safety Rayshawn Jenkins (23) during overtime at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Lombardi at VSIN and Mike Reiss at ESPN also both reported teams are interested in the Raiders’ signal-caller.

Mariota, 27, only played in one game during the 2020 season. However, in that appearance, Mariota completed 17-of-28 passes for 226 yards and one touchdown. Rushing the ball, his dual-threat ability propelled him for 88 yards and one touchdown on nine attempts.

Just a year ago, Mariota’s market as a free agent was relatively thin. He was viewed as a diminishing quarterback, whose confidence had dissipated after being replaced by Ryan Tannehill in Tennessee. Mariota was considered a backup and not much more, landing him on the Raiders.

Now as Mariota enters the offseason ahead of the second season of his two-year contract he signed with Las Vegas, he has elevated his image of how teams around the NFL view him.

Mariota is still more of a reclamation project than he is a starting quarterback. But based on what he showed in Week 15 against the Chargers, his value league-wide is exponentially higher than it was just a season ago.

So should the Raiders keep Mariota as a high-end backup or part ways with the former first-rounder and accumulate additional draft compensation?

If the Raiders hung onto Mariota they would owe him $11.3 million in 2021, according to Over the Cap. That price tag would be considerably high for a backup quarterback, and while the Raiders don’t have any guaranteed dollars tied to him, a trade would generate extra cap space.

Last week, the Raiders re-signed Nathan Peterman to a one-year, $2.775 million extension. Typically, a third-string quarterback doesn’t make anything near that price range.

So that could mean two things: either the Raiders are showing their hand as they’re confident in Peterman being the second-string quarterback, or they’re willing to spend a little more cap space to ensure their quarterback room is relatively strong.

As for Mariota, clearly, there is interest to be had as teams around the league seek information about acquiring the former No. 2 overall pick. Since his contributions would offer acquiring teams either a bridge quarterback or a highly capable backup for those with a young starter, Mariota would presumably net the Raiders a Day 3 draft pick.

Adding another pick on the final day of the 2021 NFL Draft may not seem like a lot in return, but the Raiders found solid contributions two years ago in the fourth and fifth round, selecting Maxx Crosby and Hunter Renfrow.

It seems more likely that the Raiders move on from Mariota, unless something drastically changes. If he remains on the roster, Las Vegas would be allocating more than $33 million to their quarterback position between the three signal-callers, and Carr is on the hook for $22.125 million — a team-friendly deal.

Based on the current defensive needs of the Raiders, saving Mariota’s $10-plus million and investing in an area where the team needs it most, would be the most logical team-building solution.