Mariota Ranks as NFL's Highest-Paid Backup Quarterback
Even if he does not start a game in 2020, Marcus Mariota will be well-compensated.
The former Tennessee Titans quarterback currently ranks as the NFL’s highest-paid backup, according to an ESPN analysis.
He will make $7.5 million in base salary this season under the two-year, free agent contract he signed with the Las Vegas Raiders. That not only puts him at the top of the pay scale for all current No. 2 quarterbacks, it is more than any earned either of the last two seasons.
Teddy Bridgewater made $7.25 million with New Orleans in 2019 and $6 million the season before that, and he will get $8 million this year as Carolina’s presumed starter. Tyrod Taylor earned $5.5 million last season with the L.A. Chargers and now is in line to be that team’s No. 1. Chase Daniel earned $5 million with Chicago each of the last two seasons, and A.J. McCarron made the same amount in 2019 with the Raiders.
Mariota has more career starts (61) than any of those four.
The only other backup quarterback in Mariota’s salary range recently was Ryan Tannehill, who earned $7 million with Tennessee in 2019 (Miami, which traded him to the Titans, paid the majority of that money). Tannehill, of course, only started the season as the backup. By Week 7, he had replaced Mariota as the starter.
Tannehill recently signed a four-year, $118 million extension that solidifies his place as the centerpiece of the offense.
The best-case scenario for Mariota seems to be to unseat current Raiders starter Derek Carr in a similar fashion.
“I think Mariota starts 10-plus games for them and fits well with what Jon Gruden wants to do,” an NFL personnel executive told The Athletic. “If Jon loved Derek Carr, why is Marcus Mariota there? If you’ve got all the confidence in the world with your quarterback, why was Mariota one of the very early signings in free agency, maybe even the first quarterback announcement?”
Mariota earned $20.922 million last season, the last of the rookie contract he signed after Tennessee selected him with the second overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. In his five seasons with the Titans he averaged $9.027 million in annual earnings.
With Cam Newton and Jameis Winston still available as free agents, it is possible he could be knocked off his perch. Both are established starters who have yet to find a new team. So, it is possible they might have to sign somewhere as a backup – at least to start with.