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Las Vegas Raiders QB Marcus Mariota drawing ‘legitimate’ trade interest

Las Vegas Raiders quarterback options: Derek Carr, Marcus Mariota
Dec 13, 2020; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) and quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) warm up before the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It could be a smokescreen on the part of the Las Vegas Raiders. Backup quarterback Marcus Mariota suddenly finding himself on the trade block after rumors suggested starter Derek Carr could be moved.

The Carr suggestion came amid a related report indicating that Las Vegas could have interest in Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. If that were to come to fruition, both Carr and Mariota would be moved.

Looking at the Mariota angle for a second, the New England Patriots were bandied about as a potential landing spot for the former No. 2 pick. Apparently, they are not the only team interested in Mr. Mariota.

Read More: 5 bona fide Las Vegas Raiders quarterback options for the 2021 NFL season

Las Vegas Raiders drawing significant interest in Marcus Mariota trade

Philadelphia Eagles, Marcus Mariota, NFL trade
Dec 26, 2020; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) warms up before a game against the Miami Dolphins at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport reported the news on Tuesday, indicating there’s “legitimate and real” interest from other teams in a potential Mariota trade.

Contractually, it would make sense for a team to take on Mariota. He’s set to earn a base salary of $10.63 million in 2021. That’s top-end backup money. If the former Oregon star can somehow find a way to turn around his career, he could be a cost-effective option for a contending team.

Mariota, 27, signed a two-year, $17.6 million deal with Las Vegas last spring. He looked pretty good in extremely limited playing time behind Carr. However, that has not been the case in recent seasons.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Raiders, check out #RaiderNation rumors, rankings, and news here.

Marcus Mariota stats

Washington Football Team quarterback 2021 options: Marcus Mariota
Dec 17, 2020; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) runs the ball against the Los Angeles Chargers during overtime at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The former No. 2 pick last acted the part of a starter-caliber quarterback back in 2016. That’s not hyperbole. There’s a reason the Tennessee Titans benched him for Ryan Tannehill back in 2019 before moving on from the quarterback shortly thereafter. His regression has been eye-opening.

  • 2016: 61.2% completion, 26 touchdowns, nine interceptions (95.6 rating)
  • 2017: 62.0% completion, 13 touchdowns, 15 interceptions (79.3 rating)
  • 2018: 68.9% completion, 11 touchdowns, eight interceptions (92.3 rating)
  • 2019: 59.4% completion, seven touchdowns, two interceptions (92.3 rating)
  • 2020: 60.7% completion, one touchdown, one interception (83.3 rating)

All said, Mariota has started a combined 34 games over the past four seasons. With that said, there’s still some upside if he were to land in the right situation.

Read More: Ranking the top-10 NFL quarterbacks who could change teams during NFL free agency

Marcus Mariota trade scenarios

Raiders rumors: Marcus Mariota
Dec 17, 2020; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) runs the ball against the Los Angeles Chargers during the second half at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

We previously focused on the Patriots as a potential landing spot. Following Cam Newton’s disastrous one-year tenure, Bill Belichick and Co. are going to be looking for a replacement. They will likely do so on the cheap. That’s where Mariota could potentially come into play.

The Washington Football Team, Chicago Bears, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers are all looking for an upgrade at quarterback in the NFC. Meanwhile, the Raiders’ AFC rivals could show interest. In addition to the Patriots, that includes the Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts and New York Jets.

Read More: Patriots quarterback: Top options for the team in 2021

Any move to acquire Marcus Mariota in a trade likely wouldn’t cost a team much in terms of draft pick compensation. That’s especially true given the number of quarterbacks currently on the trade block, most of whom offer more than Mariota.

Even then, his team-friendly contract makes the veteran an interesting option moving forward.