The Atlanta Falcons didn’t wait long to find their next starting quarterback as they signed Marcus Mariota to a two-year deal on Monday.
This came just hours after the team decided to deal long-time starting quarterback Matt Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts after 14 years with Atlanta.
For Mariota, it’s an opportunity to regain his footing as a starting quarterback in the NFL. After the second-overall pick of the 2015 draft fizzled out with the Tennessee Titans and was ultimately replaced by Ryan Tannehill, the 28-year-old spent the last two seasons backing up Derek Carr with the Las Vegas Raiders.
As a starter, his numbers are less than inspiring — although they came on a rebuilding Titans team that did not hit its stride until his final year under center in 2019. He went 29-32 as a starter while completing 62.9% of his passes with 17-game averages of 3,564 yards, 21 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions.
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But Falcons head coach Arthur Smith has maintained his affection for Mariota since the two worked together in Tennessee — the former as an assistant coach where he was in close contact with the passer — and now is giving him an opportunity to work his way back toward regular playing time.
Mariota will also renew his rivalry with Jameis Winston, who was signed to a two-year deal by Atlanta’ NFC South rivals, the New Orleans Saints, earlier on Monday.
Winston was taken one pick before Mariota, No. 1 overall, by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers seven years ago. This after Mariota’s Oregon Ducks defeated Winston’s Florida State 59-20 in the Rose Bowl to punch their ticket to the 2015 National Championship Game.