The blueprint Ryan Tannehill used to position himself for a starting job in 2019 should be the blueprint Marcus Mariota uses in 2020.
If Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota plays his cards right next offseason, he could find his way to a starting job at some point in 2020.
Mariota is currently sitting as the Titans’ backup, as fellow quarterback Ryan Tannehill took over for him in Week 6 and hasn’t looked back since.
With Tannehill under center and playing well, the Titans are 3-1 and have renewed hope in the 2019 season. More importantly for the new Titans starting quarterback, he has revived his career and could earn the job as the starter beyond this season if he keeps it up.
Things weren’t looking so great for Tannehill after 2018, though. His time with the Miami Dolphins had run its course and the Tannehill era in South Beach was a failure.
Looking to recoup something for their former No. 8 overall pick, Miami traded Tannehill to Tennessee, and the two teams exchanged picks as well.
But before the trade occurred, Tannehill and his agent, Pat Dye, were actively seeking situations in which there was a chance Tannehill could start at some point — and they identified Tennessee as one of them, per NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport.
"“We were proactively looking at situations around the league and what we thought represented the best opportunity to get on the field,” Dye, of SportsTrust Advisors, said this week. “It didn’t matter if it was on planet Mars, he wanted the opportunity to be a starter.”“Jon Robinson the [Titans] GM seemed intrigued,” Dye said, “But he wasn’t over the top. You could just tell he liked the player and how he would fit.”"
The idea behind trying to work out a trade behind the scenes with the Titans was simple: the incumbent starter looked vulnerable.
Tennessee didn’t sign Mariota to a contract extension prior to 2019, which was a rare situation for such a high pick at the quarterback position. Instead, the Titans opted to let their former No. 2 overall pick play out the fifth year of his rookie deal.
Adding to that, Mariota had a checkered injury history, and that was arguably the biggest factor for a deal with the Dolphins making sense for the Titans.
For a guy looking to get another starting job in the NFL, the situation with the Titans gave a clear path for Tannehill to have a chance to start sooner or later, and Tannehill and his agent turned out to be right.
Of course, Tannehill’s situation was a bit different because it involved him being traded, as opposed to Mariota’s situation that has him being a free agent next year.
However, if Mariota wants to have a chance to resurrect his career in 2020, he must choose a similar path to that of Tannehill’s.
And that path should have the Oregon product trying to land with a team that has a similar vulnerability at starting quarterback. As Tannehill proved, the position for whatever team Mariota joins doesn’t have to be totally open, it just has to have the chance to be.
Mariota has plenty left in the tank at the age of 26, he just desperately needs a change of scenery. Free agency in 2020 will give him that opportunity, and unlike Tannehill, he’ll have much more flexibility in where he goes.
If he picks the right situation, Marcus Mariota could be back behind center in 2020 and thriving, just like his teammate currently is.