Did the Las Vegas Raiders overpay for Marcus Mariota?
By Alex Perl
The numbers have finally been revealed for how much the Las Vegas Raiders will be paying for the services of quarterback Marcus Mariota.
Marcus Mariota will be receiving a two-year, $17.6 million deal with the Las Vegas Raiders, which includes $7.5m in the first year as a fully guaranteed base salary. Included in the deal, Mariota can get up to $2.4m if he plays 60% of the snaps in 2020, another $1.5m in per game playing time and win incentives, on top of that another $10m can be added in incentives for 2021.
Also he can receive $2m in playoff/Super Bowl incentives each year + $12m in 2021 salary escalator. It may be a mouthful to go through all these numbers, but simply put, if all falls in Mariota’s favor, he can make up to $37.5m over the next two seasons.
So the question now is did the Raiders overpay for Mariota? The story of Marcus Mariota at least in an NFL perspective has had more lows than highs. The former number two pick overall in the 2015 draft has not lived up to the lofty expectations bestowed upon him since excelling at the University of Oregon.
Nagging injuries and inconsistent play has slowed the 26-year-old Mariota over the years. It even culminated in Mariota losing his job this past year to Ryan Tannehill, who thrived in Nashville and sent Mariota to the bench. Many will point to Mariota having five different offensive coordinators in his short career as well as the injuries, but one thing is for sure, this contract is not a normal contract given to a backup.
Did the Raiders overpay for Mariota? Yes and no.
When you dig deep into the backup quarterback situation among the NFL, you see in terms of backup positions, these guys are not paid the league minimum or close. In fact they make way more than the average position. Of course quarterback being a position of greater value, but take a look around the league. Last year Tyrod Taylor signed a two-year, $11m deal with 6m guaranteed to play for the Los Angeles Chargers, Teddy Bridgewater got a one-year fully guaranteed deal with the New Orleans Saints for one-year, $7.25m.
When you look at the numbers here, it seems these are very on par with Mariota’s deal. Being only the first year is guaranteed at $7.5m, this is very similar to the deal Bridgewater received, so it does not look like an overpay. Especially considering the jury is still out on Bridgewater as he was playing with a very stacked Saints team.
Another situation to take into account is Mariota is not coming here to be the day one starter. The Raiders have a starter already in Derek Carr, and a starter they are paying hefty. Carr is carrying a $18.9m base salary going into this season, more than double the contract of Mariota’s current salary.
Derek Carr has been the most polarizing figure in the history of the Raiders, he’s been a beacon of consistency when you look at the numbers, but the same can not be said for the wins column. Going into his seventh season as Raiders quarterback, Carr carries a 39-55 record and no playoff experience.
The record is concerning, and despite how you feel about Carr, bringing in a player of Mariota’s caliber with these sort of incentives, is either in place to push Carr to excel or push the Carr out of the driveway. When you consider Carr’s backup last year was journeyman Mike Glennon, you get the sense this is no ordinary signing and a win-win situation for the Raiders.
At 26 years of age Marcus Mariota still has the potential to become a great quarterback, in fact before he even became a Raider, he received high praise from GM Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden. Gruden stated in his days as a commentator that Mariota was “Russel Wilson, only he is 6-4.”
With the injuries hopefully behind him and a QB guru in Jon Gruden, maybe Mariota can live up to that lofty potential or maybe he can push Carr to his greatest heights with some added competition. So when you look at the deal it is fascinating, but with only one-year guaranteed and the potential to be a special player or being a tool to motivate Carr, this deal does not seem like an overpay.