After signing with the Las Vegas Raiders to back up Derek Carr, Mariota is off to a good start following Tannehill’s example. Last offseason, Tannehill often spoke about how he was just in Tennessee to help Mariota — the starter entering last year — improve, support the QB, and compete and be the best signal-caller he could be if needed. After the talking was over, Tannehill eventually took Mariota’s job and did it with flair, splashing big plays and helping to guide the Titans to the postseason.
Fast-forward to this week. Mariota is now with the Raiders. And he’s taking a page from Tannehill’s playbook, noting Carr is the starter.
“First and foremost, this is Derek’s team, and I understand that,” Mariota told KHON-TV Hawaii. “I understand that going in. For me my priorities going into free agency was to be a part of a team that I felt could bring out the best in me and whatever happens, whatever comes to that, I’m ready for, but I do know that to play starting quarterback in the NFL, to be at that spot is not any easy job to do, and I think when it comes down to it, a strong, stable, supportive quarterback room makes that job a whole lot easier. That’s what we have to do. I’m going to do my best to support Derek in every possible way that I can and along with that I’m just going to try to become the best player that I can be and see where that takes me.”
Mariota said he believes that in Las Vegas, with coach Jon Gruden, he’s found a team that can maximize his talents and help him become a better quarterback, even if that’s just as a backup.
“I had two priorities that I had while I was going through this free agency process,” Mariota said. “Number one was to find stability. I wanted to be a part of an organization that had a stable head coach, that had stability in the front office, and secondly for me, I wanted to be a part of a coaching staff that could bring out the best in me. That could embrace my talents and kind of put my best foot forward.”
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that Mariota signed a two-year contract worth $17.5 million that came with a mountain of incentives and escalators that could push the deal to a max value of $37.5 million. To hit those marks, he’d eventually have to overtake Carr.
For now, Mariota is saying the right things about being a backup. Just like Tannehill did a year ago.