Derek Carr rumors flew across our face last week, connecting the Bears as a possible trade partner for the Raiders should they decide they want to move in a different direction at the quarterback position.
However, if the Raiders trade a quarterback, it might not actually be Carr:
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 10, 2021
NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport hears there has been ample interest in Marcus Mariota.
Yes, the same Mariota who was the second overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Indeed, the same guy who flamed out with the Titans, only to see Ryan Tannehill’s re-emergence take that franchise to another level. And yep, the same Mariota who some speculated the Bears would be interested in signing last offseason to compete with Mitchell Trubisky. And while nothing came together, that GM Ryan Pace and the Bears have been connected to Mariota since the 2015 NFL Draft isn’t lost on me as Mariota’s name returns to the rumor mill.
Let’s be real. Some old flames are hard to quit. Through that lens, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Bears were asking about Mariota, especially if they were hot on Carr and their interest was rebuffed and redirected toward Mariota. (And, also, if other efforts to land a new quarterback this offseason are unsuccessful (most believe Deshaun Watson just isn’t happening for the Bears, for example).)
The Raiders signed Mariota to a two-year contract last offseason after his time with the Titans came to an end. And even though he didn’t get much playing time in 2021, Mariota’s Week 15 cameo against the Chargers appears to have garnered some interest.
In a 30-27 loss, Mariota went 17-for-28, threw for 226 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT, and added 88 yards rushing, in relief of Carr. Perhaps seeing that sample was enough for some teams to kick the tires on a 27-year-old quarterback who’ll make just $10.7 million in 2021. Moreover, it’s possible some teams are envisioning Mariota being the 2021 version of 2019 Tannehill. Because, in what would be a stroke of irony, there lies a path to Mariota losing his job, picking up steam elsewhere, learning from his mistakes, and re-inventing himself with a new team. So although, I’d caution against thinking this is the norm, we’ve seen it before. That Tannehill’s re-emergence came at Mariota’s expense just makes it all the more weird to tie this all together.
Ultimately, this brings us back to the Bears. It is no secret that they are diving into the quarterback market searching for an upgrade. There is no hiding in stealth mode when Pace starts the offseason hinting at taking a big swing, while Head Coach Matt Nagy implies the team will leave no stone left un-turned a month later. So does Mariota make sense in Chicago? I suppose we could build out a case, especially given that it would amount to a one-year shot at a time when the Bears could conceivably focus on precisely that (without locking them into something risky long-term, or giving up significant draft capital in 2022+).
But is Mariota really a *big* enough one-year shot for a GM on the final year of his deal and a coach on the hot seat? I’m not so sure they’d see it that way if they’re desperately trying to get to 10+ wins in 2021 to hang onto their jobs. However, we’ll keep an eye on the situation as it develops, because who knows how the rest of the market shakes out, and whether the acquisition cost will be so minimal that it’s the best crack the Bears can take. Desperate times could lead to desperate measures for a team desperate for quarterback help. Did I use desperate enough times in the last sentence to get my point across?
I mean, we’re talking about Mariota as an option after already discussing the likes of Matthew Stafford, Deshaun Watson, Derek Carr, and Carson Wentz as trade candidates one calendar month after the Bears’ postseason game. So, yeah, desperate is the word of the offseason.
None of this is to say Carr isn’t still a possibility for some team inquiring about upgrading its own quarterback position, but obviously the price tag is in an entirely different tier. Still, Rapoport notes that the Raiders haven’t hung up on teams wanting to deal for Carr ….