Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel spoke about the lack of a contract extension for quarterback Marcus Mariota.
It wasn’t too much of a surprise that the Tennessee Titans didn’t extend Marcus Mariota’s contract prior to the 2019 season, and head coach Mike Vrabel doesn’t see that as a bad thing.
Mariota has dealt with up-and-down seasons through his first four years in the NFL, but the chief of the concerns surrounding the Oregon product is his ability to stay on the field.
Despite the former No. 2 overall pick not getting a contract extension and having to play out the fifth-year option of his rookie deal, Vrabel doesn’t see it as an issue, per Robert Klemko of Sports Illustrated:
“When you make a commitment to the QB you want to make sure that this is going to be your guy for the next 7-10 years when you look at the percentage of the cap quarterbacks are driving. Nobody is more proud of what Marcus has done in the offseason than me. He’s come back stronger, bigger, with greater understanding of what we’re doing offensively, being able to communicate it to players the field. I don’t look at the lack of a long-term extension as a negative, though that’s what people try to make it. I know Marcus’s demeanor and that won’t change whether he’s on a 10-year contract or its up after the season. He’s that type of person. So I know it’ll work because of how he is.”
As Pro Football Talk noted, Mariota having to play out the last year of his deal is rare.
Both he and Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston are the first former first-round picks at the quarterback position to not get an extension prior to playing under their fifth-year option under the new CBA. Of course, Winston was drafted one spot ahead of Mariota in 2015.
Marcus Mariota’s situation is rare, but understandable
It’s an understandable move on the Titans’ part. Re-signing Mariota to a long-term deal will cost a ton of money (market value is $22.6 million annually, per Sportrac), and the team wants to make sure that Mariota is the clear, long-term solution behind center before paying him handsomely.
In 2018, Mariota will still be making some coin, with his fifth-year option coming in at $20.9 million.
The 25-year-old is doing what he can to quell the worries of his health issues, though. Mariota has bulked up during the offseason, which should help him better absorb big hits. On top of that, the team has spoken to him about throwing the ball away more in order to avoid said hits.
General manager Jon Robinson has also done what he can to help Mariota. He added slot receiver Adam Humphries in free agency, and drafted A.J. Brown in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Adding to that, Robinson has beefed up the team’s offensive line, hoping to improve upon the 42 sacks Mariota took in 2018.
In all, the Titans have done everything possible to put Mariota in a position to succeed, so this year he’ll have all the tools necessary to show the Titans he deserves to stay in Tennessee as the starter.
Mariota will have the pressure of the spotlight on him throughout 2019. If he can rise to the occasion through it all, Mariota will undoubtedly earn himself a big contract in 2020.