There has been plenty of speculation regarding the Las Vegas Raiders’ plans under center this offseason.
General manager Mike Mayock may have offered up some clarity with his recent endorsement of quarterback Derek Carr as their long-term option. However, it remains to be seen whether they intend to keep backup quarterback Marcus Mariota round as a contingent plan for another year.
The Raiders have made concerted efforts to clear up cap space wherever they can. It appears this has resulted in an ultimatum for Mariota.
According to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, the Raiders plan to release Mariota this offseason if he refuses to take a significant pay cut:
Decision is coming: The #Raiders asked QB Marcus Mariota to take a paycut down to just $3M this year, source said, and if he refuses the team will move on. While a release is likely, the team has been able to trade players they would cut. That remains possible. He is due $10.725M
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 18, 2021
Mariota is set to make $10.7 million in the 2021 NFL season with an $11.35 million cap hit. It seems the Raiders are hoping to reduce this number in order to help fill the other voids on their roster while maintaining their quality depth under center.
Las Vegas is looking to have its cake and eat it too by having Mariota take a $7 million pay cut to stick around. This could be asking too much of him since there are still a few teams in the market for a starting-caliber quarterback.
However, the Raiders still have yet to find a viable trade partner that is willing to take on his current base salary. Since reports indicate that he has no interest in renegotiating his contract, it appears he could be poised to take his chances on the market.
Mariota showed plenty of promise during his lone appearance in a Week 15 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. He finished with 226 yards and a touchdown through the air, along with 88 yards and another touchdown on the ground.
It will be interesting to see if this will be enough to garner him a contract worth more than $3 million in free agency.