Marcus Mariota hadn’t taken a snap for the Las Vegas Raiders the entire 2020 NFL season until Thursday night when starter Derek Carr suffered a groin injury that sent him to the locker room late in the first quarter. Mariota came in and performed well, but the Raiders ended up losing 30-27 in overtime.
While the loss was disappointing and effectively eliminated the Raiders from playoff contention, Mariota couldn’t help but be happy after the game. That’s because with the incentive-laden contract he signed in March, the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner earned more than $800,000 in bonuses for the game. Here’s a breakdown of the bonuses and how much he made for the night.
Marcus Mariota’s lackluster career in Tennessee
The Tennessee Titans drafted Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota with the second overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. During his rookie season, he started 12 games, and the team finished with a 3-9 record. Individually, Mariota had his share of ups and downs, finishing the year throwing for 2,818 yards with 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
For the next three seasons, Mariota was the unquestioned leader of the Tennessee offense. He had his best season in year two, throwing for 3,426 yards with 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions. In 2017, Mariota struggled but the team still managed to make the playoffs.
In 2019, Marcus Mariota started the season but was ineffective and was replaced by Ryan Tannehill in Week 7, who eventually lead the Titans to the AFC Championship game. The Titans signed Tannehill to a long-term extension following the season, basically ending Mariota’s time in Tennessee.
Marcus Mariota makes Raiders debut
With the Titans chapter of his career over, Marcus Mariota signed a two-year, $17.5 million contract with the Las Vegas Raiders in March as an unrestricted free agent. He would serve as a backup to veteran starter Derek Carr.
On Thursday night, Mariota finally took the field for the Raiders after Carr suffered a groin injury late in the first quarter. Mariota played well for much of the night, going 17-of-28 for 226 yards and one touchdown.
He did, however, have one costly mistake late in the game when he threw a pass behind his intended receiver, which was intercepted and returned deep into Raiders territory before he made the tackle.
Despite that poorly timed pass, after the game, many NFL pundits hailed Mariota as the “best backup in the NFL” for his overall performance.
Earns more than $800,000 in bonuses just for playing in game
While Marcus Mariota played well in his first game, it wasn’t the quality of play but the quantity of snaps that earned him a couple of very nice bonuses. Among the incentives in his contract, Mariota was guaranteed an extra $200,000 if he appeared in at least 60 percent of the snaps in any game for the Raiders. He was on the field for 85 percent against the Chargers.
In addition, and more impressively, just for playing 60 percent of the snaps in a game, Mariota earned an increase of $625,000 in his base salary for the 2021 campaign.
After the game, Raiders coach Jon Gruden indicated Carr’s injury was “pretty significant,” which could mean Mariota might see more playing time in the season’s final weeks. If that happens, Mariota is in line to receive additional bonuses.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.