Why Marcus Mariota's contract could make trade difficult for Raiders

Why Marcus Mariota's contract could make trade difficult for Raiders

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Alex Espinoza
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Mariota's contract could be difficult to trade, Rapoport says originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

When the Raiders signed Marcus Mariota to a two-year, $17.6 million contract last offseason, they loaded it with incentives. The deal was an insurance policy of sorts for starting quarterback Derek Carr, who ended up starting 16 games and throwing for 4,000 yards for the third straight season.

NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport recently reported he would be “surprised” if Mariota wasn’t traded this offseason. On Wednesday, Rapoport said some negotiations have already taken place.

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“Things did get down the line a little bit,” Rapoport said on NFL Network. “There is significant interest in teams trying to get Marcus Mariota to come in and play quarterback for them.”

But Rapoport also reports Mariota’s incentive-laden contract could be prohibitive to the Raiders’ efforts to trade him.

“Teams as of right now, don’t seem to think that it’s something that would be worth it,” Rapoport said. “Especially when you consider they would give up a draft pick to trade for him.”

When Mariota filled in for an injured Carr in a Week 15 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, he cashed in a nice pay day for himself.

Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap laid out Mariota’s incentive structure and how it affects Mariota’s contract this season. Mariota has a base salary of $10.625 million and a cap hit of $11.35 million in 2021. None of the money is guaranteed, meaning the Raiders can release him without financial penalty once the league year starts on March 17.

“He earns $625,000 for each game he plays a significant amount of time, up to a maximum of $7.5 million,” Fitzgerald wrote. “This clause at the least would make Mariota’s salary in the $15 million range for a team looking for him to start since it would probably take a half a year to pull the plug. 

“He can earn up to $1.875 million for wins. This total number likely won’t be reached [he would need 12 wins to achieve it] but 6 wins would get half the number so we just keep adding to the price.”

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It’s unclear if the other teams didn’t read the fine print on Mariota’s contract or if the trade market has simply cooled following the blockbuster Matthew Stafford trade.

If the Raiders can’t find a trade partner for Mariota, he’s a candidate to be released since his salary would take out a significant chunk of the reported $180 million salary cap for next season. 

“Could Mariota be released and then end up picking his own team and getting some more guaranteed money in the process?,” Rapoport said. “That might work out better for him and potentially better for the Raiders.”