Jon Gruden and the Las Vegas Raiders Are Having Trouble Trading Their $10.1 Million Signal-Caller

The Las Vegas Raiders‘ quarterback situation keeps getting more interesting as the NFL offseason continues. Jon Gruden and the team are trying to trade their backup quarterback Marcus Mariota for draft assets and to get his contract off their payroll.

Despite the willingness to part with Mariota, the trade market has dried up for the Oregon product. There are incentives in his contract that make it increasingly difficult for the team to move him.

The Las Vegas Raiders’ complicated quarterback situation

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The Las Vegas Raiders’ quarterback situation is becoming more clear as the offseason gets underway. Jon Gruden and the team were happy enough with Derek Carr’s performance in 2020 that they decided to keep him under contract. According to a Feb. 10 tweet by NFL Network’s James Palmer, David Carr said that the Raiders have said no to all offers for the Fresno State product. 

Las Vegas also re-signed Nathan Peterman to a one-year extension on Feb. 4. Given that the team has committed to two quarterbacks, the writing was on the wall for Marcus Mariota. The Raiders have made him available in the trade market with the hopes of getting his $10.1 million salary off their books. The six-year quarterback showed that he still has some talent under center.

Marcus Mariota played in a limited fashion during the 2020 season, coming in for Carr when he injured his groin. He threw for 226 yards and scored two touchdowns against the LA Chargers, making the most of his opportunity. His impressive performance showed teams that he can still play well under center.

The interest in Mariota was strong when news broke of his availability. However, the market has calmed down recently. The Las Vegas Raiders can only blame themselves for being in this situation.

Why has the trade market dried up for Marcus Mariota?

Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden talks with his quarterbacks before a game
Jon Gruden and the Las Vegas Raiders are having trouble trading Marcus Mariota because of the incentives in his contract | Ethan Miller/Getty Images

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Many teams are interested in Marcus Mariota’s services. However, there are issues within his contract that have clubs apprehensive about acquiring the former No. 2 overall pick. His $10.1 million base salary isn’t the problem for teams.

“The issue is based on incentives. If he is the starter and ends up playing the entire season, he can make an additional $12 million, so more than $20 million for Marcus Mariota,” said Albert Breer per Yahoo! Sports. “Teams, as of right now, don’t seem to think that’s something that would be worth it, especially when you consider they’d also give up a draft pick to trade for him. That trade market has now dried up significantly.”

The Raiders are the ones who put these incentives in Mariota’s contract, so their difficulties trading him are self-made. If the team can’t find a trade partner for him, they could release the quarterback. That saves the team $11.35 million toward their cap, but the Las Vegas Raiders would like to get something in return for the veteran signal-caller.

Despite the market growing cold for Mariota, it is early in the offseason. The interest could rise again once teams gain a better picture of their quarterback situation during offseason workouts and training camp. Some franchises could use an upgrade under center, and the Oregon alum would be the perfect option.

Marcus Mariota could still find a home with the New England Patriots

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At 27 years old, Marcus Mariota is just beginning the prime of his NFL career. His running ability could be appetizing for interested teams given the trend toward mobile quarterbacks. He is 29-32 as a starter but showed some potential when he stepped in for Derek Carr.

The New England Patriots are the team that has been linked to Mariota this offseason. The team didn’t find success with Cam Newton at the helm, having the third-worst passing offense in 2020. Bill Belichick might be the best coach for the six-year quarterback because he can provide structure and discipline.  

If Mariota joins the Pats, he could make them a playoff contender. The pressure won’t be on him to carry the team with New England’s run-heavy offense. However, the Patriots don’t have many weapons at receiver, something that needs to change regardless of who is their quarterback. According to sportsbettingdime.com, Mariota is the favorite to be the Patriots’ next starting quarterback.

The Las Vegas Raiders and Jon Gruden made their bed with Mariota’s contract, now they must find another team to help them get out of their jam. The team probably would’ve found a trade partner by now if his incentives didn’t increase the money he’d be paid. Jon Gruden and the Raiders might have to wait until teams start getting desperate to trade the former Heisman-winning quarterback.

Stats courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference