The Las Vegas Raiders made it a priority to add a veteran quarterback to the fold, agreeing to terms with Marcus Mariota. Is the writing on the wall for Derek Carr?
After spending five roller-coaster seasons with the Tennessee Titans, Marcus Mariota has agreed to a potentially lucrative deal with the Las Vegas Raiders in 2020 NFL free agency. While Mariota has been pretty adamant about the Raiders being Derek Carr‘s team, it’s no secret he’ll be hoping to have a Ryan Tannehill-esque resurgence for the silver and black in 2020.
Ever since the Raiders decided to hire head coach Jon Gruden out of the Monday Night Football booth, rumors have been swirling about Carr’s future with the team. Despite putting up career numbers this past season in yards, completion percentage and quarterback rating, Gruden was still noncommittal on Carr’s future with the team when asked about it in December.
With those career highs, it must also be stated how Derek Carr has led the Raiders to 55 losses, which is the second-worst number ever for any starter through six seasons. Contrarily Mariota may not have been lighting up the stat sheet, but he was an integral part of three consecutive winning seasons (2016-2018) as well as a road playoff victory in Tennessee.
More from NFL Spin Zone
- Dallas Cowboys made the trade everyone else should have made
- Pittsburgh Steelers rookie sleeper everyone should be talking about
- Anthony Richardson putting jaw-dropping talent on display immediately
- Denver Broncos’ stud wide receiver might be out for a while
- Washington Commanders: Three takeaways from win over Ravens
Then there’s the love from Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock had for Mariota when he was coming out of Oregon in 2015. While Gruden was enamored with his arm talent and overall football knowledge during his ESPN segment Gruden’s QB Camp, it was Mayock who had a glowing review of the former Heisman Trophy winner:
"As far as Mariota is concerned, the more tape that I’ve watched, the more I’ve appreciated what he’s been asked to do in their version of the spread offense. He reads combination routes, takes tremendous care of the football, and he wins games."
Mariota’s most productive season was in 2016 when he was under center for Mike Mularkey’s “exotic smash-mouth” offense. The scheme was not only predicated on downhill runs/play-action but also sprinkled in creative ways to use the quarterback as a runner and even occasionally as a receiver.
While Gruden may not be sending Mariota out on any go routes, there are some similarities between that scheme and what the Raiders like to do with their offense/run game which features stud first-round pick Josh Jacobs. This should make the transition almost seamless for the Hawaii native, who also gets to live closer to home.
It’ll be a complete shock to see anyone other than Derek Carr under center for the franchise’s first game as the “Las Vegas” Raiders — but expect him to be on a short leash. Unlike the past two years, the team now has a solid in-season backup plan and may not be hesitant to hand the keys to the offense over to Mariota to see what he can do if/when Carr stumbles.
This quarterback situation for the Raiders has some odd irony to it. 2016 was not only a career year for Mariota, but for Carr as well. Add to the fact that both players suffered gruesome season-ending knee injuries only hours apart that same season, it seems as if the “football gods” didn’t want it any other way for the Raiders and their inaugural season in Las Vegas.