Tennessee Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan has been suspended four games for a failed drug test. This is terrible news for his quarterback, Marcus Mariota.
Marcus Mariota is entering the final year of his rookie deal. It’s already off to a bad start.
On Wednesday, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network broke news of Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan being suspended four games for a failed drug test. While the story is about Lewan, it’s also about Mariota’s future in Tennessee. With the former Heisman Trophy winner needing a much-improved season to secure generational wealth in Nashville, Lewan’s ban is unfortunate.
In four NFL seasons, Mariota has never thrown for 4,000 yards or 30 touchdowns. He’s also never played 16 games in any regular season. Now, Mariota will go forward without one of the best left tackles in the game, hoping to stay upright.
In those contests, Tennessee faces the Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars and Atlanta Falcons. Looking at those teams, edge rushers including Myles Garrett, Justin Houston, Calais Campbell, Josh Allen and Takk McKinley all come to mind.
Additionally for Mariota, the depth chart behind him has changed. The Titans made a significant trade this offseason for Ryan Tannehill, securing him from the Miami Dolphins. Tannehill isn’t a terrific starter, but he’s a phenomenal — see, overqualified — backup. If Mariota goes down or simply struggles under increased pressure, Tannehill could conceivably take over and not hand the job back.
Mariota may still have a great year and earn that next contract, but the task just became that much tougher.