Former NFL quarterback and current NFL.com analyst David Carr believes Tennessee Titans quarterback, Marcus Mariota, is a better option in free agency than fellow signal-caller, Ryan Tannehill.
Carr did a list of the top 10 available quarterbacks this offseason, incorporating both those available in the draft and those set to hit the open market come March.
And on his list, he surprisingly ranked Mariota (No. 8) ahead of Tannehill (No. 9), with his reasoning being that we never saw just how good the soon-to-be former Titans quarterback can be because the team didn’t utilize him properly.
It certainly wasn’t an ideal year for Mariota, as he was benched for Ryan Tannehill after a 2-4 start. Consequently, I know you’re wondering why Tannehill is below Mariota on this list. I’ve touched on this several times this year, and it’s because I don’t believe Mariota has been utilized in the correct way during his time in Nashville. Mariota was often used in the West Coast offense or a variation of it, but he’s a spread quarterback who thrives when he’s able to use his legs. Instead of setting him loose as a runner, the Titans made a concerted effort to prevent the injury-prone Mariota from taking big hits. If the former Heisman winner signs with a team that is dedicated to maximizing his skill set, Mariota has a real chance to turn things around.
Not only does Carr think Mariota is a better option than Tannehill, he also ranks the Oregon product ahead of veteran quarterback, Philip Rivers (No. 10). Dak Prescott (No. 2), Teddy Bridgewater (No. 4) and Tom Brady (No. 5) are all rightfully ranked ahead of Mariota.
While I would certainly agree that Mariota could revive his career in the right system and be a productive starting quarterback, the only thing we can go on in regard to ranking him is the concrete evidence we have.
The truth is, Mariota was 2-4 as the Titans’ starter in 2019 before Tannehill took over the starting job. With the same team, the reigning Comeback Player of the Year led the Titans to a 7-3 record over the last 10 games of the regular season, en route to the playoffs.
Adding to that, Tannehill’s performance, which saw him lead the NFL in passer rating and finish third in completion percentage, helped take the Titans’ offense to new levels of production it hadn’t seen in quite some time.
Mariota is currently the type of quarterback teams will want to take a flier on in 2020, as opposed to Tannehill and Rivers, both of whom can be slotted into a starting role right away with confidence.
Of course, Rivers’ 2019 season was a forgettable one as well, but he has a much longer track record of success than Mariota.
The former No. 2 overall pick is a perfect fit as a backup to a quarterback who is on shaky ground (Mitchell Trubisky in Chicago), or a signal-caller who is injury prone (Carson Wentz in Philadelphia).
Another possible avenue to a starting job would be with the Los Angeles Chargers, where head coach Anthony Lynn has hinted he could roll with quarterback Tyrod Taylor as the starter.
In that situation, Mariota could conceivably win the job right away if given the opportunity to compete in camp against a signal-caller who has had multiple failed stints as a starter in the NFL.
No matter where he goes, Mariota is not guaranteed to have a starting job, making it impossible to rank him above the other top quarterbacks that will be available during the 2020 offseason.