The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in the market for a veteran quarterback. With third year player Kyle Trask, who has basically no NFL experience, as the only quarterback under contract it makes to bring in a veteran to compete for the starting job. That quarterback might have become available as of Tuesday afternoon.
It was reported that the Atlanta Falcons would be releasing quarterback Marcus Mariota. After starting 13 games last season, Mariota was phased out in favor of rookie Desmond Ridder. With Ridder viewed as the future of the franchise it was logical to move on from Mariota.
However, one team’s trash can be another team’s treasure. Mariota could be the ideal veteran that the Buccaneers are looking for. Here’s why I believe he’d be a great fit in Tampa Bay.
There aren’t many teams where Mariota could go compete for a starting job. Around the league he would be viewed by most teams as a high end backup. Accordingly, that’s how most teams would want to pay him.
Last year Mariota signed a two year $18.75 million dollar contract to come complete for the Falcons starting quarterback job. This included little guaranteed money, which is why the team was able to cut him a year later. Prior to that, Mariota was on a one year $3.5 million dollar contract to be the backup with the Las Vegas Raiders.
The price difference between the two contracts reflects the possibility of Mariota starting in Atlanta as opposed to clearly being the backup to an established starter. Mariota’s potential deal would probably look more like what he got with Atlanta if he were to sign with the Bucs.
Many Buccaneers fans will be familiar with Mariota dating back to the 2015 NFL draft. At that time it was a great debate as to who the Bucs would select with the number one overall pick, Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota. As we now know, general manager Jason Licht chose Winston and Mariota went second overall to the Tennessee Titans.
What made this debate interesting is that Mariota is a completely different style of quarterback. He made his name for being very accurate and gashing defenses with his legs. Even more than that, he has always been a guy who has protected the football, having only throw double digit interceptions twice in his six seasons as a starter.
Mariota could come in and instantly improve the running game, after rushing for a career high 438 yards last season. He could also come in and manage the offense effectively. He has shown that he can lead a team to the playoffs with this formula.
New offensive coordinator Dave Canales has made his vision for the Bucs quarterback clear. He described wanting to make Kyle Trask more of a point guard. Mariota would certainly fall into that category.
The veteran quarterback also checks boxes with his mobility. Canales comes from Seattle where he worked with Russell Wilson and Geno Smith, both of whom were able to make plays with their legs. Mariota can provide a threat on rollouts and some designed runs that Canales was able to do with his previous quarterbacks.
Finally, we know Canales values protecting the football. This was a point of emphasis in his introductory press conference. And while we don’t know if Trask is a guy who will be able to do that at the NFL level we do know that this is something that Mariota has done throughout the course of his career.
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