The Atlanta Falcons have released Marcus Mariota from the team. This release comes after a 5-8 record with Mariota as the starting QB. While there were instances of good QB play in the 13 games he played, red zone fumbles and interceptions changed what could have been one of the season’s most inspiring comeback stories.
Mariota was benched by the Tennessee Titans in October 2019. He went on to the Las Vegas Raiders as a backup to Derek Carr before coming to Falcons. He was named QB1 after the Falcons traded Matt Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts. In 2022, Mariota talked about being grateful to the Falcons for giving him the opportunity to be an NFL starter again.
"Last year, Mariota spoke about how getting benched shook his confidence. “It’s a long journey,” Mariota began. “Three years ago, I was benched on this week. You go through a process of looking within and reflecting. Throughout that journey for me, I knew I that I had to find that confidence to be able to play at a high level. When you get your confidence taken away from you, it is tough as an athlete, because I think that’s truly your only mental weapon that you have.”"
While his benching was not a surprise to most Falcons fans, what happened after did give Falcons fans a reason to pause. Arthur Smith revealed that Mariota had been dealing with a knee issue. At no point in the season had Mariota been on an injury report with said issue.
Then, it was revealed that Mariota was not with the team. Fans wondered if Mariota’s absence was really due to injury or a bruised ego. We may never know the full truth unless it was captured by the Netflix film crew in the upcoming docu-series. Mariota is one of three featured QBs they followed last season. Many Falcons fans would love to have the curtain pulled back to see how things went down after Mariota’s benching.
According to Spotrac, the Falcons are saving $12M in cap space by releasing Mariota.
Now that the Mariota chapter with the Falcons has officially come to an end, the team can continue its focus on bringing other players to the team. With the most cap space they’ve had in decades, the Falcons hope to get players that will provide an immediate impact and help the team become playoff contenders.