Raiders' Jon Gruden: 'Dazzling Playmaker' Marcus Mariota 'Really Fired Me Up'

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistAugust 14, 2020

Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota throws during an NFL football practice Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. The Titans are scheduled to face the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship game Sunday. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

The Las Vegas Raiders are set to start the season with Derek Carr as their quarterback, but head coach Jon Gruden seems to think highly of his backup.  

Speaking to reporters, Gruden called Marcus Mariota a "dazzling playmaker" who "really fired me up" on the practice field today. 

In his 2019 season wrap-up press conference, Gruden was non-committal about Carr remaining the team's starter:

"He played good. I'm not going to get into all the next-year scenarios. I'm just going to say that 7-9 is a step forward. We took a step forward. Statistically, I think we took a step forward. We've got to get a lot of guys healthy and we've got a lot of things to look at and evaluate before we start making any assumptions."

Carr's contract is structured so the Raiders would have only been on the hook for $7.9 million in dead cap this season and $2.5 million next year if they decided to release him. He had a solid statistical season in 2019 with 4,054 passing yards, 21 touchdowns and a career-high 70.4 completion percentage. 

Gruden and the Raiders opted to keep Carr, but they did sign Mariota to a two-year contract in the offseason. The 2014 Heisman Trophy winner will receive $7.5 million guaranteed in 2020, but his $10.1 million base salary next year is not guaranteed. 

Mariota lost his starting job with the Tennessee Titans midway through last season. He threw for 1,203 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions in seven games.

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

The 26-year-old can be used in running packages if the Raiders look to add different wrinkles to their offense. He's averaged 5.8 yards per carry on 242 attempts in five NFL seasons.