For a minute there, things were jumping into hyper speed on the quarterback market. Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff were switching teams, a divorce between Deshaun Watson and the Texans seemed imminent, and Philip Rivers faded off into the sunset which opened the door for the Colts to trade for Carson Wentz. And that appeared to be just the tip of the iceberg in terms of quarterback movement with free agency and the draft still on the horizon. While things will inevitably ramp up again, we have hit a speed bump in recent days and the trade market for Raiders quarterback Marcus Mariota is a strong example of that.
Not too long ago this offseason, Las Vegas trading their backup quarterback seemed to be the next shoe to drop with teams calling about acquiring the former No. 2 overall pick, who impressed during brief appearances in 2020. However, as Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reports, that trade market has since dried up.
The reason for that centers around the incentives in Mariota's contract. Because he hit certain markers in his contract with his play in 2020, that triggered incentives to be added to 2021 and sets up the possibility of an additional $12 million to be added to his compensation so long as he is the starter and plays next year. Any team looking to acquire Mariota likely would bring him in as their QB1, thus hitting those incentives. When you add that $12 million in incentives to the around $10 million he's set to make in base salary in 2021, that's now over $20 million for Mariota, which is seemingly too rich for inquiring clubs.
Where does that leave Mariota and the Raiders? Rapoport suggests that a release is not out of the question. Mariota has no dead money left on his contract and Las Vegas could clear $10.725 million if they let him walk. In an offseason where the salary cap is set to decrease, this is a beneficial move for the Raiders to better build around their starter Derek Carr, even if they are getting not additional assets for Mariota.
A release would also be a win for Mariota as he could then choose his next destination, giving himself the best possible chance -- in his estimation -- to revitalize his career as a starter.