Should the Raiders trade away their backup QB?
By Raymond Harrison
For the past few offseasons, it feels like quarterback trade rumors have surrounded the Las Vegas Raiders.
While most of them have focused on the incumbent Derek Carr, a new trade candidate has entered the fray in 2021.
Yes, the trade market for backup QB Marcus Mariota is heating up, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.
The former second-overall pick appeared in one game for the Raiders in 2021, throwing for 226 yards and a touchdown while running for 88 yards and another score. Apparently, this one-off performance caught the eye of a few NFL teams.
The Hawaiian-born QB still has one year left on his contract and will receive $10.6 million in base salary this upcoming season.
For that reason alone, it is understandable that the Raiders would move Mariota out. With how many holes this team has on defense, it makes no sense to pay your backup QB more than $10 million.
Sources around the league have speculated that Carr will be their 2021 starter, barring a monumental offer. The team has rebuked multiple trade offers for the 29-year-old signal caller, hence the market’s turn toward Mariota.
What Could the Raiders Get for Mariota?
The Raiders are not the only team in the NFL hesitant about Mariota’s contract. The base salary is one thing, but there are also several performance-based incentives interwoven in the deal.
If a team is trading for him to be their starter, they are likely paying him closer to $20 million in 2021 because of the incentive bonuses. This hurts Mariota’s trade value, assuming they do not restructure the contract.
Getting a third-round pick for Mariota would be an ideal package, but that seems unattainable. Unless a suitor is completely desperate, a fourth- or fifth-round pick would likely have to suffice.
Early reports suggest that the Washington Football Team has been one of the more aggressive pursuers, so perhaps a bidding war with another team could drive up the price.
Is Trading Mariota the Right Decision?
I think trading Mariota instead of Carr is unquestionably the right move.
Seeing him perform well in Week 15 was fun, but it was a single-game sample size against a defense that strategized for a different QB. The Raiders also still lost that game, and Mariota threw a costly pick in the final two minutes of regulation.
The lure of the unknown is attractive, but his body of work does not come close to Carr’s. By many statistical accounts, Carr was a fringe top-10 QB in 2020.
Carr is not elite, but he is an above-average field general that is capable of out-dueling anyone on any week. He has his flaws, but unless the Raiders want to undergo a full tear-down rebuild, he should be the man under center in Week 1 of 2021.
He is a phenomenal leader and still has prime years left under his belt. Above all else, QB play was not the issue with this team in 2020; the defense was.
The Raiders are making the right choice by trading Mariota, and I want him to succeed elsewhere. It just makes little sense to keep his bloated salary around when Carr is clearly the better option.
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