After being replaced by Ryan Tannehill last year, can Marcus Mariota do the same to Derek Carr this year?
When the Tennessee Titans traded for Ryan Tannehill last offseason, everyone was saying the right things about Marcus Mariota’s status as the starter. Of course that changed, after a benching of Mariota in Week 6, and all Tannehill did was have a career year as the Titans made an underdog run to the AFC Championship Game.
Mariota has signed a two-year deal with the Las Vegas Raiders, where he’ll become Derek Carr’s backup. The incentive-laden structure of the contract provides an opportunity for Mariota to make up to $37.5 million over the next two years, if he usurps Carr and reaches a few other benchmarks that seem unlikely to be attained based on team success.
It’s clear the Raiders would like to replace Carr if possible, and Carr himself has shown very thin skin at the mere idea the team is considering other options. Mariota is an automatic upgrade to the depth chart, with 61 starts on his resume.
As expected, as much due to his personality as the situation, Mariota is saying the right things.
“First and foremost this is Derek’s team, and I understand that. I understand that going in,” Mariota said, via Rob DeMello of KHOU in Hawaii. “ I’m going to do my best to support Derek in every possible way that I can and along with that I’m just going to try to become the best player that I can be and see where that takes me.”
Mariota’s words parallel what Tannehill said a year ago, surely knowing he was in place behind the most vulnerable starting quarterback in the league. Carr is also vulnerable, for some different reasons, with Mariota assuming what’s easy to see as the Tannehill role.
When Mariota was finally deemed inadequate last year, Titans’ head coach Mike Vrabel made the switch to Tannehill. Jon Gruden is just waiting for a similar opportunity to replace Carr, now with Mariota patiently waiting for his opportunity to be Tannehill 2.0.