Report: 'Legitimate and real' trade interest in Raiders QB Marcus Mariota

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JP Finlay
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Report: 'Legitimate and real' trade interest in Raiders QB Marcus Mariota originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

For all the talk of a possible Derek Carr trade it looks like Raiders backup quarterback Marcus Mariota could be on the trade block as well. 

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported Wednesday morning that while teams are calling Las Vegas about Carr, his trade cost could be "incredibly expensive" and in turn some calls have switched gears to inquire about Mariota. 

From NFL Network:

There's legitimate and real interest in Mariota...that performance he gave at the end of the year really caught a lot of team’s eyes that he could be the next Ryan Tannehill.

As the cost skyrocket to acquire a true QB1, and scarcity at the position continues to rise, more teams have turned their eyes to The Tannehill Theory. The premise is simple: acquire a backup or borderline starter with great tools, fix them mentally and physically, and - poof - a great QB is born. 

This worked with Tannehill, who got traded from Miami to Tennessee after the 2018 season. In Miami, despite being a first-round pick, Tannehill scuffled. He was benched and never found his ceiling. After a change of scenery with the Titans, Tannehill has become a Top 10 QB in the NFL and guided his new team to back-to-back playoff seasons. 

As it relates to Mariota, The Tannehill Theory is actually quite ironic, considering Tannehill's success came at Mariota's expense. Tennessee benched the former No. 2 overall pick Mariota to put Tannehill in in 2019, and in 2020, the Titans let Mariota sign with the Raiders as a free agent.

In five years with the Titans, Mariota completed about 63 percent of his passes with 77 touchdowns and 45 interceptions. A gifted runner, he also chipped in with nearly 1,400 rushing yards and 11 TDs on the ground. 

What stood out for many was Mariota's Week 15 performance in relief of Carr during a Thursday Night Football nationally televised broadcast. In that game, Mariota completed 17 of 28 passes for 226 yards with one TD and one INT. He also ran nine times for 88 yards with a touchdown. 

That game made the rest of the NFL remember what a gifted athlete Mariota was and a late touchdown to get to overtime showed his poise.

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Going forward, Mariota carries an $11 million cap charge for the 2021 season, which is quite cheap for a quarterback, and is slated for free agency after this season. 

For Washington, Mariota wouldn't be the answer, but he could be cheap competition, both from a dollar standpoint and a compensation standpoint. Vegas can be demanding in a Carr trade, and the word is two first-round picks to start talking, but for Mariota the draft pick compensation would have to look much lighter. 

In fact, what if the trade compensation wasn't a draft pick at all, but rather a player? Could Washington send one of its talented defensive linemen to the Raiders in return for their backup QB?

The Raiders finished the 2020 season with just 21 total sacks, fourth-worst in the league. Washington finished with 47 sacks, sixth-best in the league. Maybe this could turn into a win-win situation for both franchises.