Marcus Mariota to the Philadelphia Eagles was all the rage when it was thought that Chip Kelly might trade up to take his former Oregon star in the 2015 NFL Draft. That dream (or nightmare, really) was crushed, however, when the Tennessee Titans stayed put to take him at No. 2 overall.
Things clearly didn’t work out for Mariota as a franchise quarterback in Tennessee. He eventually got benched for Ryan Tannehill during the 2019 season and then left the Titans to sign with the Las Vegas Raiders as Derek Carr’s backup.
Now it seems like Mariota might soon find himself on his third team in three years. There’s been talk that the Raiders might trade or release the 27-year-old. If that’s the case, quarterback-needy teams could be interested. And the Eagles might be among those interested?
The Athletic’s Ben Standig recently indicated as much (bold emphasis mine):
Who is the best bet? That’s a question most around the league cannot or are unsure how to answer. Darnold offers the most intrigue, among personnel executives contacted by The Athletic, but Mariota and Winston have fans. Of those three, Mariota has the best chance to change teams, perhaps within the next week or at least before free agency opens later this month. And, while Philadelphia wouldn’t seem like an obvious landing spot — Jalen Hurts remains, and Mariota and Carson Wentz are repped by the same agency — one prominent league source said to keep an eye on the Eagles if Mariota is traded or released.
The Eagles trading for Mariota doesn’t seem realistic considering his 2021 salary ranges from $10.75 million to $22 million based on reachable escalators. Philly can’t really afford those numbers given their current cap situation. Not to mention actually giving up a draft pick to get a player who will be a free agent after this year.
It’s possible the Raiders might just have to release Mariota since they’re currently projected to be $7.7 million over the cap and cutting him clears $11.35 million with zero dead money. If he’s available on the open market, one would think he’ll have multiple suitors. The Washington Football Team, for example, has reportedly expressed some interest in Mariota. The Eagles might be outbid by other teams who are more desperate to acquire him.
Then again, Philly might have an underrated factor working in their favor. Eagles tight ends coach Jason Michael was actually Mariota’s offensive coordinator in 2015 and then his quarterbacks coach in 2016 and 2017. Oddly enough, Mariota had both his best and worst seasons in terms of passer rating with Michael as his position coach.
For as much as it’d be funny if the Eagles finally landed Mariota, I don’t think it’s the direction they should go in. This is a guy who’s gone 29-32 as a starter with a 89.5 career passer rating. He’s never really showed signs of being anything special and it’s hard to ignore how much the Titans improved when they replaced him with Tannehill.
If the Eagles were in “win-now” mode and looking for a quality backup behind an established starter, acquiring Mariota would make sense. But given their status as a “retooling” team, they shouldn’t be spending significant resources to bring in Mariota to compete with Jalen Hurts.
It’s quite possible that Mariota could be better than Hurts and yet still not nearly good enough to be Philly’s long-term option under center. The Eagles being mediocre with Mariota in 2021 would be bad since that could knock them out of top position to select a quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft. It’s possible the Eagles could end up being mediocre with Hurts but at least they’d learn more about a younger player in the process. What’s there to really learn about Mariota at this point?
Should the Eagles acquire Marcus Mariota?
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