Marcus Mariota might still be a starting quarterback in the NFL. After one and a half seasons as a backup, the former No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft is drawing interest from teams around the league.
The Washington Football Team is reportedly one of those teams, but there could be a snag. NBC Sports Washington recently pointed to Mariota’s contract as a reason why the Football Team might look in a different direction.
On the surface, his $10.6 million base salary in 2021 is appealing, but it’s an incentive-laden deal that could each $18-20 million. At that price tag, a team is less likely to gamble on the 27-year-old, especially when they’re rebuilding themselves.
It’s unfortunate because Mariota makes sense for Washington. He’s young enough that he could still show long-term potential — just as Ryan Tannehill did with the Tennessee Titans. But the price has to be right, and almost $20 million is not a cost-effective option.
Now, if the Oregon product were willing to restructure his contract with the move, then Washington might reconsider. There might be less financial incentive for Mariota to make that move, but if he wants a second chance at a starter job, then it might balance out.
Another scenario, according to Mike Lombardi, would be for Washington to sit and wait. He doesn’t believe Mariota is a viable backup for the Las Vegas Raiders, even at his current price tag of $10.6 million.
“The more work you do on the player, it kind of leads you to where it’s gonna go,” Lombardi said in a recent appearance on the Pat McAfee Show. “You just basically know that the Raiders basically have to cut this kid because they can’t carry $10 million.”
If that happens, several teams will be competing with Washington to sign him. Will that drive his price up? Absolutely, but it might not reach that $18-20 million range. And more importantly, the team wouldn’t have to part with a draft pick.
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.