The Raiders are gearing up for their first season in Las Vegas, but it's still a mystery as to who their quarterback will be when they actually kick off this new era in franchise history. They could stick with veteran Derek Carr, but the club has also been pegged as a possible destination for soon-to-be free agent Tom Brady. Now, there's another quarterback that has reportedly caught the eye of the Raiders brass as Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network reports that Vegas is interested in free agent Marcus Mariota.
The former No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft just finished up his rookie contract with the Tennessee Titans and is coming off a 2019 campaign where he was benched for Ryan Tannehill. Before being sidelined, Mariota struggled mightily, leading Tennessee to a 2-4 record as the starter while completing less than 60 percent of his passes. After he was forced to ride the pine, the Titans took off under Tannehill and reached the AFC championship, which only further highlighted Mariota's struggles.
Still, Mariota, who will be just 26-years-old by the start of the 2020 season, has potential that could be unlocked and a change of scenery may do him a world of good. Last season aside, Mariota has proven to be efficient as he keeps critical turnovers relatively low and isn't too far removed from a 2018 season where he completed nearly 70% of his passes. He won't wow you with his arm strength, but does have the capability to make plays with his feet to a degree.
If the Raiders do bring him aboard, it would in all likelihood be as a backup behind Carr initially. Mariota knows firsthand, however, that even if you start a season as the backup, there's plenty of opportunities to claw your way into that starting spot, especially if Carr doesn't wow head coach Jon Gruden out of the gate. Who knows, maybe he can be the 2020 version of Tannehill. It should be noted that Mariota was current Raiders general manager Mike Mayock's No. 1 ranked quarterback when he was coming into the league in 2015 so clearly the front office believes in his talent.
This report by Garafolo also suggests that, while the Raiders will explore other quarterback options this offseason, going after a veteran backup like Mariota is more likely than the franchise going after the likes of Brady, which is noteworthy as we get close to the start of free agency.