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Indianapolis Colts could turn to Marcus Mariota in 2022

Andrew Buller-Russ
Marcus Mariota
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the Indianapolis Colts have been able to shed the salary of Carson Wentz, they’re on the hunt for his replacement, which could reportedly lead them to Marcus Mariota.

We’ve already seen two starting quarterbacks traded this offseason and some think their best option to improve at the position is by getting right back into the trade market. However, a recent report suggests they may hold onto their trade capital, by pursuing Mariota in free agency.

According to Dan Graziano of ESPN, Mariota has been the QB he’s most often heard linked to the Colts this offseason. But they likely won’t be the only team interested in his services.

The No. 2 overall pick in 2015, Mariota has faded to the background of the QB landscape in recent seasons, having spent the past two years as Derek Carr‘s backup with the Las Vegas Raiders. He’s thrown just 30 passes in that time, but they liked to use his speed once in the while, having seen action in 10 games last season, rushing 13 times for 87 yards and a touchdown.

His last extensive action came in 2018, when Mariota was still with the Tennessee Titans, in which he started 13 games.

  • Marcus Mariota stats (2018): 68.9%, 2,528 passing yards, 11 TD, 8 INT

The following year, Mariota started six games before Ryan Tannehill took over the gig for good. Though it’s been nearly three seasons since Mariota received much of an opportunity, he’s still just 28 years old. The Colts may be intrigued by his skillset, fully realizing the plan is to spoonfeed Taylor 25 times per game.

Related: 4 Indianapolis Colts QB options for the 2022 season

Indianapolis Colts’ interest in Marcus Mariota could be wise in the long run

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Las Vegas Raiders
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps, when paired with Jonathan Taylor, the Colts can utilize the athleticism of Marcus Mariota to keep defenses guessing. Taylor does most of the work on his own, but they wouldn’t likely ask Mariota to do much more than they asked of Wentz a season ago. In 2021, the Colts averaged the sixth-fewest pass attempts per game with Wentz under center.

Not to mention the added savings from taking a chance on a player such as Mariota instead of parting with more draft picks. Mariota, since he hasn’t been in a starting role since 2019, isn’t expected to break the bank this offseason either. This past season, for example, Mariota played on a salary worth $3.5 million.

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Signing Mariota allows the Colts to spend elsewhere, hold onto their future draft picks, while keeping their options open should Mariota not be their ultimate solution. He likely can’t do much worse than Wentz did a season ago, but even if he doesn’t work out, the Colts are in the same position as they were a year ago. And the year before that.