Marcus Mariota could be in a different uniform come September. The Las Vegas Raiders backup quarterback has received a lot of interest from other teams interested in acquiring his services, as reported by Ian Rapoport earlier this week.
Mariota is still only 27-years-old but hasn't held a starting job since his final season in Tennessee in 2019, when he was benched for Ryan Tannehill and the team subsequently went on a run to the AFC Championship Game. Mariota's relative youth and dual-threat ability will appeal to teams looking to strike gold in a reclamation project similar to how Tannehill surged following a change in circumstances.
Here are four teams who realistically will do their best to trade for the former Heisman Trophy winner.
Washington Football Team
The WFT doesn't have an answer at quarterback as things stand. Taylor Heinicke got a contract extension for almost beating Tom Brady in the playoffs but there's nothing to suggest he's the answer for next season, much less past that. Kyle Allen is in the same boat and Alex Smith could very well retire. Mike Lombardi reports Washington has already expressed great interest in Mariota.
He would be the best option for Washington in terms of upside and risk level. At his worst, he won't be any worse of an option than what Washington did last year, and if he can show an ability to make NFL-level throws while remaining a threat on the ground, Washington is a serious playoff contender. They won't be able to trade for any of the big-name QBs on the market and none of the upcoming free agents will come at the same cheap price combined with upside that Mariota can present.
Per usual, the Colts rank near the top of any potential destinations list for a quarterback on the market. They have a championship-level roster everywhere except QB. GM Chris Ballard will want to swing bigger than Mariota; the team has reportedly been in discussions with Philly for Carson Wentz and clearly believe a high-upside quarterback is what they need. Mariota would be a relative disappointment in that regard, but could definitely be acquired for less than what the Eagles want for Wentz and it's hard to say he could be worse than Wentz was this season if given the opportunity. The Colts will be looking at every possible option this offseason, and Mariota is included.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints have real cap space problems, but the cap ceiling is fake and the front office would figure out a way to fit Mariota's $10 million cap hit under the umbrella if Sean Payton desired it to be so. Mariota can throw better than Taysom Hill and is nearly as threatening as a runner. Jameis Winston is probably out in New Orleans as a free agent with a chance to make some big bucks. Mariota is a good reclamation option for the offensive brilliance of Payton. Replacing Drew Brees wont' be easy, but if Payton can unlock Mariota's better half, the Saints have a good enough roster to seriously compete in 2021.
This would infuriate Bears fans, to be sure, but Mariota is probably better than Mitch Trubisky. Chicago doesn't have an answer at QB as things stand and bringing back Trubisky feels, from the outside, like a break-in-case-of-emergency option. They can't and shouldn't give up the farm for Wentz and even a middling QB like Mariota could be a good enough game manager to win some games with the quality defense of Chicago behind him. It's not an exciting choice, but sending out a fourth-round pick for Mariota is much better than trading two firsts for Wentz. They should be in on the Mariota talks.