In one of their more interesting offseason moves, the Las Vegas Raiders signed former Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota. Although Mariota has years of experience as a starting quarterback, it has been made clear he was brought on to fulfill a backup role.
For starters, Mariota can be used to light a fire under Carr. The Raiders have had a significant amount of backup quarterback turnover, including DeShone Kizer, Connor Cook, and Mike Glennon. While these quarterbacks are talented in their own ways, no backup has been as talented as Mariota. The previously displayed talent of Mariota should be enough to pose a threat to Carr’s starting role and may force him to increase his intensity during the season.
Secondly, Mariota broke his fibula on December 24, 2016, the exact same bone and date of Carr’s injury. During the 2016 season, both quarterbacks were on pace for the best season of their careers, before posting slightly disappointing numbers the following year. Perhaps the similarity of their injuries can bring mutual advice and confidence. Many have noticed Carr’s aggressiveness lacking after the injury, and Mariota also did not appear to be himself.
Miles to Go
In a more team-based benefit, Mariota still has impressive talent left in the tank. The Raiders are in a position for success this season. If Carr struggles, expect to see Mariota sooner than later. Mariota is on a two-year deal, meaning the Raiders might see a future with him, despite all reports indicating him taking a backup role. With the signing, the Raiders lock in one of the most proven backups in the league. Not only does Mariota bring impressive talent to the team, but he can also bring mentorship to the quarterback staff.
Derek Carr has all the means (and the current right) to remain the starting quarterback for the team’s inaugural season in Las Vegas. While Carr has had many “prove-it” years, the 2020 season may be the ultimate one. The Raiders signed a starting-caliber backup. Plus, they optimized their offense to be successful no matter who is at the helm.
Mariota has been in the league for five years to Carr’s six. Youth will not be a major push, but fans should be excited to see a potential rejuvenation in both quarterbacks. Due to the track record of both quarterbacks, the Raiders could find themselves with a unique, unusual opportunity. The week-to-week plan may be confusing for fans, but it can also keep things interesting for opposing defenses where the teams might not know who to expect until late in the week.
While the ideal situation would be to hear Carr’s name all 16 games, Jon Gruden must keep an open mind while dealing with this.