The Tennessee Titans have, to put it mildly, struggled in the last 8 years. The last time they went to the playoffs, George W. Bush was President. They’ve had 3 coaching changes in 5 years and 6 different starting quarterbacks in 6 years.
With their 2nd overall pick, The Titans selected Heisman Trophy winner, Marcus Mariota, from the University of Oregon signing him to a 4-year $24.2 million guaranteed contract with a $15.9 million signing bonus.
But was it worth it. Is Marcus Mariota that Valuable, especially considering how much he struggled with injuries his rookie year while the Titans went 3-13.
If you ask Ducks fans, they will unequivocally tell you that yes, Marcus Mariota is that valuable. After all, a $19 million 30,000 sq. ft. performance center was built in his honor in Eugene, complete with a trophy case for the honors Mariota earned while at the University of Oregon, including the Heisman Trophy.
There is little doubt he was valuable while in Oregon and little doubt that he will remain a fan favorite for a long time to come. The question that needs to be asked however is, can that value translate to the NFL?
The Tennessee Titans certainly think so.
Aside from the contract details above, the Titans have begun to build a team around Mariota. In his rookie year, Mariota lacked a receiving corps, a decent and reliable backfield, and his offensive line was a mess. Mariota was sacked 38 times last season, a staggering number that explains the injuries he struggled with last season.
This season though, the Titans have added pro bowl running back, DeMarco Murray, and promising wide receiver, Rishard Matthews. The offensive line has gotten an upgrade as well. The draft trade with the LA Rams showed that the Titans have a (relatively) smart front office who is prepared to do what they need to in order to give Mariota what he needs to make the playoffs this decade.
There was a lot of criticism of Mariota as he entered the Draft. Critics claimed his mechanics weren’t pro ready, his pocket presence was average at best, and that he wasn’t as smart on the field as he could be. What these analysts overlook and downplay are the intangibles of a player. The intangibles being the stuff on the field you can’t measure with gauges. Tom Brady and Russell Wilson were both criticized coming into the draft and ended up late round picks because they were undervalued. Nobody counted on their desire to win, their ability to lead a team, and the drive to learn and improve no matter what- all things Mariota has in common with guys like Brady and Russell.
Bottom line: Mariota is that valuable to the Titans. He’s the type of player you can count on to lead by example on and off the field. He has and will continue to improve his mechanics, pocket presence, and understanding of defenses because quite frankly, Mariota is the type of person and player that doesn’t settle for mediocrity.