Las Vegas Raiders QB Marcus Mariota has been in trade rumors and if the team trades him, they must not trade him to another AFC contender.
The Las Vegas Raiders are in an enviable position as they have three QBs on their roster with starting experience. Some of those starts have gone better than others, Nathan Peterman’s five INT game comes to mind, but they have two QBs in Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota that would be starters on most of the teams in the NFL.
In the case of Mariota, he came to Las Vegas to rehabilitate and parlay some cameo appearances for the Raiders into a full-time starting role with another team. In the one game where he played the majority of the snaps in 2020, Mariota looked back to his old self as he was extending plays and running around hapless defenders.
He has only played two snaps for the Raiders this season but looks to be healthy once again and is now a popular name in the NFL trade rumor mill.
The rumors have been primarily focused on Mariota heading to the AFC North to either the Cleveland Browns or Pittsburgh Steelers but some NFC teams have been bandied about as well. The Browns make the most sense on paper because of Baker Mayfield’s shoulder issues and bringing in Mariota, a clear upgrade over Case Keenum, could help them stay afloat while their starter rests up.
Pittsburgh would be more of a long-term move if they can convince him to stick around but he could still provide valuable insurance in case Ben Roethlisberger’s recent injury woes crop up once again. Both of these moves could help strengthen these AFC rivals and they could land the Raiders some valuable draft compensation in return.
Raiders cannot strengthen another AFC team
The issue, and it should be an obvious one, is that the Raiders can’t afford to strengthen an AFC rival unless the return is ridiculous and impossible to turn down. Anything short of a day 2 pick in the upcoming draft has to be turned down by the Raiders as they could be duking it out with Pittsburgh or Cleveland for one of the AFC wild card spots down the stretch.
Other teams mentioned as possible destinations are Washington and San Francisco who are having their own QB issues due to injury with the Football Team being the more likely of the two. The 49ers gave up a ton of draft capital to select Trey Lance and Mariota makes sense as a long-term backup given the similarities in skill sets, but a move this year seems unlikely if not impossible.
Washington on the other hand could be an interesting target as they are in a strange QB situation with no clear plan for the future short of tanking the season and picking a QB in the top 5 of the 2022 NFL Draft. With Ryan Fitzpatrick on IR and Tyler Heinicke struggling, Washington could look to save their season with a move for Mariota and try to fight for an NFC Wildcard spot.
The Raiders are unlikely to trade Mariota given how important he could be if Derek Carr were to miss some time but if they were to do so, they should consider a worse offer from an NFC team over a better one from an AFC contender. You never want to strengthen your rival team and helping them fill a need at the most important position in the game would be foolish for a team looking to end their 5-year playoff drought.