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Eagles land their veteran backup QB in Marcus Mariota

Marcus Mariota
Marcus Mariota

He is in his ninth NFL season now, and Marcus Mariota has pretty much seen it all in his career. After winning the Heisman Trophy for the Oregon Ducks in the 2014 season, Mariota became the second overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft and earned the starting job in Tennessee. Since then, he's been a starter, a Pro Bowl alternate, a playoff starting quarterback, and a change-of-pace option who has also bedeviled defenses with his ability to win with his arm and his legs.

He has also dealt with adversity, experiencing the full range of wins and losses the NFL can bring to humble any player in his career.

Now, he's a Philadelphia Eagle, after agreeing to terms on a one-year deal on Monday, and brings the perfect skill set to back up Jalen Hurts and join Ian Book in the quarterback room.

We all understand how valuable that No. 2 role is for a team and there aren't many better fits than this one with Mariota joining the Eagles. While Hurts is at a different level as a running threat than just about any quarterback in the league, Mariota has inflicted damage with his legs, so the offensive approach wouldn't have to deviate much with Mariota on the field. He has run for 2,012 yards in his career with 17 touchdowns, averaging 5.8 yards per attempt. Using his 6-foot-4 frame and vision, Mariota has also found success throwing the ball, compiling 92 touchdowns and 54 interceptions in 87 career games.

Mariota started 12 games in his rookie season with Tennessee, tossing eight touchdown passes in his first three games, including a four-touchdown, perfect-rating (158.3) game to open his career. In his sixth start, Mariota had 371 passing yards in an overtime win over New Orleans. But he suffered a sprained MCL in his 12th game and that injury ended his season.

The next year, 2016, Mariota took the next step in a significant way. He threw 26 touchdown passes and only nine interceptions, had 3,426 passing yards, and added 349 yards and two touchdowns on the ground before suffering a season-ending fractured fibula in Week 16.

Mariota compiled a 9-6 record in 2017 for the Titans – with three fourth-quarter comebacks and four game-winning drives – pushing Tennessee into the playoffs and leading the way to a 22-21 win over Kansas City in the Wild Card round before falling the next week in the Divisional Round.

In 2018, the Eagles faced Mariota in a late-September game and understood, face-to-face, the pressure he put on defenses. In a thrilling back-and-forth game, Mariota led the Titans on a 16-play, 75-yard touchdown drive in overtime to lift Tennessee to the 26-23 victory, tossing a 10-yard touchdown pass to Corey Davis for the winning points with only seconds remaining in overtime.

For the game, Mariota was 30-of-43 for 344 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception to outduel Carson Wentz, and Mariota led the Titans with 10 carries for 46 yards and a 2-yard touchdown run. The Titans converted three fourth downs on that final drive, two on Mariota completed passes – one to convert a fourth-and-15 play – and another on a penalty.

It was the best of Mariota at the worst of times for the Eagles.

The 2019 season wasn't as kind for Mariota, who lost his job to Ryan Tannehill midway through the year. In 2020, Mariota joined the Las Vegas Raiders and he played in just one game that season, popping off the bench to replace Derek Carr and throwing for 226 yards, running for 88, and accounting for two touchdowns in a narrow loss to the Chargers.

In his second and final season with the Raiders, 2021, Mariota served as an occasional change-of-pace quarterback – running 13 times for 87 yards – and throwing only two passes.

Mariota joined the Atlanta Falcons in 2022 as their starter and went 5-8 leading the offense, throwing 15 touchdowns and nine interceptions before the team changed course and promoted rookie Desmond Ridder to the starting position as Mariota headed to Injured Reserve with a knee injury.

Now, Mariota joins the Eagles in a well-defined role as Hurts' backup, a veteran presence with the pass-run skills that Philadelphia wants in its quarterback.

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