The Las Vegas Raiders dropped out of the Tom Brady sweepstakes, and instead, they elected to kick the tires on a quarterback who was the second overall pick in his year’s draft, as well as 16 years younger than the Patriots signal-caller.
And their decision to do so was extremely wise.
Las Vegas was one of the first teams to have had interest in Brady, for a few reasons. First and foremost, the Raiders are moving to Las Vegas, and will need to sell tickets to games at their new stadium. It’s a difficult situation having abandoned their longtime California fanbase, packing up and moving to Las Vegas — and they’ll need to do whatever it takes to put fans in the stands. Not only that, it’s clear that Derek Carr isn’t exactly Jon Gruden’s first choice at quarterback, as he doesn’t have the passion and strong voice that the Raiders head coach values at the position.
But the Raiders were out of the Brady sweepstakes by the time the legal tampering period began on Monday, and it took only a few hours to leak out that they plan to sign former Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota instead.
Mariota was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, taken just after Jameis Winston, who also reportedly was on the market, according to a number of legitimate sites such as thaipokerleak, with the Bucs moving on from him. And while Brady is virtually immobile, needing a top-tier offensive line to keep him upright, Mariota offers mobility that Carr does not have, either, as he too is a traditional pocket passer.
That flexibility will allow Gruden and Co. to open up the playbook a bit, dialing up plays to get Mariota on the move, like running the read-option, bootlegs and such. Not only that, it’s been rumored that general manager Mike Mayock was very high on Mariota coming out of the draft, as he was an analyst for NFL Network and scouted the Oregon product at the time, so he knows him well. It’s likely that the Raiders already have a vision in terms of how they’ll utilize Mariota.
Mariota will certainly be motivated as well, having been benched this past season, only to watch Ryan Tannehill come in and lead the Titans on a winning streak, all the way to the AFC title game. He’ll be looking to do the exact same thing to Carr, which sets up for a very interesting training camp battle, and an intriguing 2020 season. Raiders fans will be very focused on who wins the job, as Gruden looks to finally bring in a signal-caller that fits what he wants to do on offense, rather than the guy he inherited upon taking over as head coach.