Marcus Mariota can cash in nicely if he usurps Derek Carr

Marcus Mariota will not necessarily be the Raiders’ starter right out of the gate, but if he usurps Derek Carr he can cash in big.

With tepid comments to the contrary, the Las Vegas Raiders clearly aren’t firmly committed to quarterback Derek Carr. They backed off a pursuit of Tom Brady, and ultimately signed Marcus Mariota.

According to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network, Mariota got a two-year, $17.6 million with $7.5 million (his 2020 base salary) fully guaranteed. So it’s a one-year commitment, which would allow the Raiders to move on and/or allow Mariota to pursue opportunities elsewhere next offseason.

Carr is entering a make-or-break year, not unlike Mariota was in 2019 when the Tennessee Titans traded for Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill eventually took over as the starter last season, a possibility that was easy to see coming, and promptly was a significant upgrade as the Titans went all the way to the AFC Championship Game.

A closer look at Mariota’s deal shows how he can cash in nicely if he usurps Carr.

As Garafolo noted, Mariota can earn up to $2.4 million ($150,000 per game) if he plays 60 percent of the snaps in 2020. Another $1.5 million is available via per-game playing time and win incentives, with another $2 million in playoff/Super Bowl incentives each year and a $12 million salary escalator for 2021. He has $10 million in those playing time and win incentives available in 2021.

Some of those incentives overlap, so the max value for Mariota over two years is $37.5 million.

In his previous work for NFL Network, Raiders’ general manager Mike Mayock had Mariota as his No.1 quarterback in the 2015 draft class (ahead of Jameis Winston). The opportunity to sign him came, and Mayock took it.

Some of the incentives that can push Mariota into low-end starter money have to be tabbed as “unlikely to be earned.” And the max amount of direct playing time incentives this year are only reached if he is the Week 1 starter, which without a preseason injury to Carr is unlikely.

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That being said, an opportunity is out there for Mariota and it may only be a matter of time before that door is open. If he gets a chance to play and plays well in 2020, he can collect a nice chunk of money and take a big step toward resurrecting his career.

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