Marcus Mariota Still Not Signed By Tennessee Titans


Of the 256 players taken in the 2015 NFL Draft, the only player yet to have their name on a contract is Tennessee Titans rookie quarterback, Marcus Mariota. The 2011 collective bargaining agreement was designed to eliminate haggling over dollars, and set minimum guidelines for rookies in the NFL. The devil in the details is “offset language”.

Offset language appears to be lawyer speak for what happens if a rookie doesn’t work out in the first four years of the deal and leaves the team or is cut for some reason. Kinda like a pre-nup one might sign before getting married.

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It doesn’t look like Titans general manager, Ruston Webster is too worried about the lack of a contract with their new signal-caller, but if it drags into training camp, it could turn into a big deal.

Mariota can’t take the field in pads without a contract when training camp starts late next month, and I’m pretty sure with the possibility of incurring an injury, neither Mariota or his agent would want the young quarterback to be put in “harms way” without a contract.

Titans ESPN writer Paul Kuharsky covered the story last week and although Webster joined the chorus of praise for Mariota’s performance during OTA’s and mini-camp, he had this to say:

"“I think he’s done a great job to this point for a rookie quarterback coming to a new offense and a new situation,” Webster said of the second overall pick in the draft. “Obviously very prepared when he steps on the field. I think the physical talent is evident when you watch him out here, which is really one of the main things I look for when they get here that we see in him or any player what we saw on film and live in games.“That’s been really good. He handled himself great in situations. I like the way he deals with our team and the other players. He’s working hard at it. He’s working very hard at it. So we feel very good about it.”"

The guys at 120 Sports discussed the situation:

The sticky part of this situation comes down to how much they would owe Mariota if he were to leave the team before his rookie deal was complete, how much guaranteed money he would get when he signs his contract, and if he were to come up with “Johnny Football” types of problems, how much of the guaranteed money could the team recoup.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers put some offset language in Jameis Winston’s contract, and the Jacksonville Jaguars did not have this language in Dante Fowler’s contract. Both players, who were drafted ahead and behind Mariota have contracts in hand and can enjoy the six-week wait until training camps begin.

Mike Florio at Pro Football Talk says the problem with getting Marriota signed may be coming from further up the food chain in the Titans organization:

"Maybe the directive is coming from higher in the organization. Maybe interim CEO Steve Underwood doesn’t want the next owner of the team to be burdened by the lack of an offset requirement. If the team that officially isn’t for sale ultimately is for sale."

If this thing drags into training camp, Mariota could miss some valuable on-the-field time with the team. If they expect their young quarterback to be ready to start against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on September 13th, he will need all the snaps he can get in pads with a pursuing defense.

The Titans forced Kendall Wright to miss five days at the start of the 2012 training camp, and Chance Warmack held out for five days in 2013 before he was signed and able to get on the field.

Marcus Mariota has already become the face of this forgotten franchise, and any delay in his training over this kind of problem can only hurt his chances of helping dig this team out of the 2-14 hole of a year ago.

This is not the kind of problem the Tennessee Titans need going forward. Let’s cut the crap and get Mariota on a contract so he can get down to the business of winning football games!

Next: Tennessee Titans OTA's: More Questions Than Answers

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