Atlanta Falcons found a bargain in Marcus Mariota this off-season
By Nick Halden
While the Atlanta Falcons might have downgraded at quarterback this off-season the team did find a bargain in Marcus Mariota. Mariota is set to count only as a $4.2-million dollar cap hit for a team that is dealing with a massive $64-million dollar dead cap hit this season. This season Atlanta was forced to shop for bargains in free agency and they have found just that in Mariota.
Marcus showed better decision-making and an impressive ability to run this Atlanta offense in the preseason. While it was in meaningless snaps it wasn’t simply a product of poor competition but an indication of the season to come for Mariota and the Falcons.
While Mariota isn’t talented enough to drag this Atlanta roster into playoff contention he is a far better quarterback than many have given him credit for. The Titans teams he was given early in his career weren’t nearly as talented as the teams Ryan Tannehill has had over the last two years.
Mariota has learned from his time with the Raiders sitting behind Derek Carr and having plenty of time to get fully healthy. Now he has the chance to remind the league why he was the 2nd overall pick in the draft and why the Titans made the wrong decision turning to Tannehill.
Is there anyone that truly believes with the same rosters Mariota couldn’t accomplish exactly what Tannehill has over the last two seasons? The same Tannehill who has shrunk in the biggest moments turning the ball over and failing to live up to his regular season numbers. These were the same complaints that led the Titans to pivot from Mariota to Tannehill in the first place.
While benching Mariota at the time was understandable it is interesting in retrospect to consider how far Mariota could have taken the Titans if he was given A.J. Brown, Julio Jones, and the ferocious defense Tannehill has had.
Mariota is going to make the most of his second chance in Atlanta and prove himself to be one of the best bargain signings in recent history. His talent and the targets Atlanta has given him have set him up to take the leap forward he never was able to with Tennessee.