An opportunity to be a starting quarterback once more and to once again play under Arthur Smith enticed Marcus Mariota to sign with the Atlanta Falcons.
After seven NFL seasons with two clubs, though, Mariota has a realistic approach and knows full well that he’s joined a franchise in flux that could very well draft a quarterback.
If that happens in the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft, Mariota is prepared for whatever role and slot on the depth chart that brings.
“If it’s not me, it’s OK, too,” Mariota told NFL Network’s Steve Wyche in a piece for the Falcons’ team website. “I’ve been in this situation before. It’s a ‘control what I can control,’ mindset. I have no ego. I can be an ear and listen. Teams are going to do what they’re going to do. If they do draft someone, I’ll give as much advice and knowledge as I can. If not, I’m ready to roll. “
Mariota was the No. 2 pick of the 2015 NFL Draft and was the starter for the Tennessee Titans for four-plus seasons thereafter. After struggling at the onset of the 2019 season, Mariota was replaced by Ryan Tannehill and would eventually sign with the Las Vegas Raiders, whom he spent the past two years with.
Mariota has moved on to join the Falcons on a two-year pact. The likelihood is he’ll get to compete for the top spot, but even if he wins it, he will presumably be a bridge quarterback until the next franchise signal-caller is found or emerges.
Atlanta has been linked to drafting a quarterback for a while now, but never put in place a plan to succeed the franchise’s greatest QB of all time, Matt Ryan, who was traded to the Indianapolis Colts. Now, Mariota joins a talent-barren roster that could seemingly hit just about any position with the No. 8 overall pick. Any position could include quarterback. Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett, Liberty’s Malik Willis, Ole Miss’ Matt Corral and Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder lead a quarterback class that’s not viewed as a great one, but is still likely to make a splash due to the ever-present need at the most important position in sports.
Whatever happens, Mariota is underscoring his spot on the Falcons roster as an opportunity, so whatever happens on the last weekend of April isn’t going to change that.
“There’s nothing guaranteed,” Mariota said. “This is just an opportunity. I feel like I’ve never been handed anything and I’m excited for this.”
When he signed with the Falcons, Mariota seemed to have found the best spot for himself, but obviously only time will answer if that’s true. But it would seem he’s very much got the best mindset as he embarks on his opportunity in Atlanta.