“The former first-round pick is being courted by several teams who may have an open competition at quarterback. I’m told the Indianapolis Colts have also shown interest in Mariota – just in case.”
Just like other reports linking the Colts to top free agents, this reported interest should be taken with a grain of salt. That being said, it’s worth discussing.
Originally the 2015 2nd overall pick of the NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans, Mariota had some early success in his career, throwing for 26 touchdown passes in 2016. However, he’s been pretty underwhelming the past few seasons—at least partially because of injuries.
Mariota completed 95 of 160 passing attempts (59.4%) for 1,203 passing yards, 7 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, and a passer rating of 92.3 in 6 starts—before being benched in Week 7 in favor of Titans backup quarterback Ryan Tannehill—who then won the starting job outright and helped lead Tennessee to the AFC Championship Game.
Still only 26 years old, maybe there’s hope with a welcome change of scenery, a new offense, and better health, that Mariota can still live up to his prior draft pedigree.
However, it doesn’t appear that he’s much of an upgrade to Colts incumbent starter Jacoby Brissett given that he didn’t show much big play ability and demonstrated a general reluctance to throw the ball downfield in recent seasons with the Titans.
For perspective, Mariota’s average net yards per attempt was 5.90—which was the 44th highest in the NFL, while Brissett’s was 41st (6.06) this past season.
In 2018, Mariota’s average net yards per attempt was 6.13 (23rd)—not much better.
Mariota could be a good backup for someone, and much like Tannehill pushed a lower tier starting quarterback for a job and eventually won out last year—maybe could have similar results with a new team in 2020.
That being said, Mariota appears too similar to Brissett—as his primary competition or even as a stopgap quarterback mentor to a top rookie quarterback, to really warrant signing by the Colts.