The Atlanta Falcons are making a change at quarterback for the first time since 2008, as they dealt Matt Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for a 2022 third-round pick, as confirmed by CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora. The writing on the wall became clear when the franchise pursued Deshaun Watson, which initiated the breakup with Ryan. Just hours after the Ryan trade was reported, the Falcons announced they had agreed to terms on a two-year deal with former Las Vegas Raiders backup quarterback Marcus Mariota.
Mariota spent time with current Falcons head coach Arthur Smith from 2015-19 with the Tennessee Titans. The former No. 2 overall pick has spent the past two seasons with the Raiders, and has thrown for 230 yards, one touchdown and one interception in 11 games played.
Smith was promoted from tight ends coach to offensive coordinator with the Titans in 2019, which was the same year Mariota was benched in favor of Ryan Tannehill. It proved to be the right move, as Tannehill immediately stepped in and led the Titans to the AFC Championship game. However, Mariota is due for another opportunity to lead a franchise, and reuniting with a familiar face could make the transition easier.
The 2014 Heisman Trophy winner has showed flashes of stardom in the past. Back in 2016, Mariota threw for a career-high 3,426 yards, 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions while going 8-7 as the starter. He went 9-6 the following year and won his first playoff game over the Kansas City Chiefs. Things began to trend downward after that, however.
Mariota is an athletic quarterback who is just 28-years-old, but injuries have been a major thorn in his side. Mariota still has not played a full season in seven years, but could be an underrated quarterback addition in what has been a wild offseason.