The biggest story in Pittsburgh sports right now is who will be the Steelers starting quarterback in 2022. There has been an endless number of possibilities discussed since the end of the season. One name has flown under the radar however. There hasn’t been much talk about Marcus Mariota to the Steelers at this point. Despite that, Mariota may actually be the perfect fit for this team in 2022.
If you were to draw up the perfect quarterback in a lab as far as physical tools go, that player would come out a lot like Marcus Mariota. He stands 6’4”, and weighs in at 222 lbs. Mariota ran a 4.5/40 time at the combine, to go along with being in the 90th percentile in all other athletic metrics. Combine this with above average arm strength, and you have the ideal quarterback profile. https://www.mockdraftable.com/player/marcus-mariota
Marcus Mariota was the second overall pick in the 2015 draft. He had an incredibly successful career at Oregon including winning the Heisman Trophy in 2014. You won’t find many quarterbacks with this kind of pedigree.
Life as an NFL quarterback has not gone quite as expected for Mariota. He is 30-32 overall as a starter with the Tennessee Titans. He has a 77-45 touchdown to interception ratio over that time. Mariota was not re-signed by the Titans, and has spent the last two seasons in Las Vegas as the backup to Derek Carr.
The Fit in Pittsburgh:
It’s pretty common knowledge the next Steelers quarterback will have to have at least some kind of mobility. Everyone from Mike Tomlin to Art Rooney II has said as much this off-season. Mariota absolutely fits that need. He has nearly 1,600 rushing yards in only five years as a full time starter. It’s easy to see the fit for what we all believe Matt Canada wants to do in Pittsburgh. A more play action oriented offense suits both Mariota’s style, and Canada’s coaching tendencies.
Marcus Mariota’s contract with Las Vegas is up making him an unrestricted free agent. The price tag for him may be more expensive than some might think, but a bargain compared to the going rates of starting quarterbacks in today’s NFL.
A good comp might be the contract Teddy Bridgewater got in 2020. Bridgewater was also a reasonably well thought of quarterback with the potential as a high end starter. He signed a three year, $63 million dollar contract with the Denver Broncos. This is a similar deal that Mariota will be looking for, especially considering he may be the best option in free agency. The Steelers would probably look to backload this deal to keep some money for other free agents. As with any contract, the guaranteed money will be the most important.
Mariota has struggled during his NFL career for several reasons, but none are more concerning than the injuries. His injury history includes two separate strained MCLs, a broken fibula, and a strained pectoral muscle that cost him the final five games of the 2020 season. Even in 2021 as a backup he missed five more games after being placed on IR with strained quadriceps muscle. The injury bug is the main concern here, and can not be ignored with this player.
Signing Marcus Mariota would be a short term solution with the possibility of home run signing. He would make the perfect stop gap to keep the team competitive while they continue to search for a long term solution. There is the potential for Mariota to shake the injury bug, and become extremely successful in Matt Canada’s system. This is exactly the kind of low risk, high reward player the Steelers should be in the market for. We were in favor of this in 2021, and now it makes more sense than ever for this franchise to make Marcus Mariota their starting quarterback. Steelers should trade for Marcus Mariota