Philadelphia Eagles: Signing Marcus Mariota would troll Chip Kelly so hard

(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images) /

There was a time in the not too distant past when it looked like Marcus Mariota was going to be traded for a pretty big return.

That’s right, despiting having been benched by the Tennessee Titans for Ryan Tannehill, and only appearing in a single game for the Los Vegas Raiders in 2020, there was one mystery team that reportedly saw enough in that lone contest to want to give up assets to acquire Mariota and his notoriously incentive-laden contract.

But now, roughly a week in the future, that team has suddenly “dried up” and the Raiders may have to end up waiving Mariota to avoid shelling out $11.35 million to a backup quarterback in 2021.

Hmm… I wonder who that mystery team looking to trade for a quarterback who suddenly isn’t anymore could be? Did some team just trade for a quarterback? Maybe even one who also went second overall in the NFL Draft?

Yeah, it doesn’t take too much investigation to make an educated guess.

So, assuming Mariota ultimately does get waived by the Raiders in favor of a cheaper reserve or a 2021 draftee, someone is going to sign the 27-year-old Heisman Trophy winner, and chances are it won’t be a team with a name that rhymes with Kindianapolis Bolts.

Signing Mariota would surely entice Philadelphia Eagles GM Howie Roseman.

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I don’t think it’s particularly hyperbolic to assume that Howie Roseman isn’t a big fan of Chip Kelly.

While it was Roseman who helped to spearhead the Philadelphia Eagles‘ search for their first head coach of the 21st century not named Andy Reid, the relationship between the two men quickly divulged into an all-out battle royal for total control of the team’s roster, with Kelly temporarily coming out on top only to be fired after Week 16 of the 2015 season.

And to his credit, Roseman didn’t take very long to right many of the perceived wrongs that many a Philly fan took umbrage with during Kelly’s year-long tenure as coach/GM.

Before the Eagles even took the field for Week 1, Kelly had shipped Kiko Alonso, Byron Maxwell, DeMarco Murray, Eric Rowe, and a number of other high-profile Kelly acquisitions and began a Daryl Morey-esque mission to rebuild the roster in his perceived image.

But do you know what would really grind Kelly’s gears now, even half a decade removed from the last time he stepped foot on the hallowed grounds of the South Philadelphia Sports Complex? Yeah, that’d be signing Kelly’s former pupil and one-time trade target Marcus Mariota to serve as a backup to the current apple of Roseman’s eye, Jalen Hurts.

Now, on paper, Mariota is a pretty darn good backup quarterback given the Eagles’ current situation. He’s started 64 games in the NFL, has extensive experience running plays from both the shotgun and from under center, and at 27 years old, is still young enough to remain the team’s quarterback for a decade-plus should he ultimately prove to be the better option over Hurts either in camp or as an injury replacement.

Assuming he doesn’t want an arm and a leg to sign with the team – or, ya know, $11.5 million – there’s very little reason Mariota shouldn’t be on the shortlist of potential quarterbacks Roseman looks into come free agency alongside Jacoby Brissett and Tyrod Taylor, assuming he is waived before the market opens up.

But do you want to know what separates Mariota from players like Brissett or Taylor? Chip Kelly never tried to trade two first-round picks, a second-round pick, any quarterback on the roster, and any player(s) on the defense.

Yeah, you read that correctly. Kelly was so drunk on power and an insatiable desire to reunite with his college quarterback that he was willing to surrender (presumably) Nick Foles, two firsts, a second, and players like Fletcher Cox, Malcolm Jenkins, and Connor Barwin to get a deal done.

Sidebar: Considering how the pieces ultimately fell, the Titans looks kind of silly for saying no to that deal. Then again, who would have predicted that Ryan Tannehill would be the team’s head coach and ex-Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel would be their head coach. The NFL is weird, man.

Whether you liked Mariota coming out of Oregon or thought he was an uncharismatic system quarterback who lacked the requisite versatility to be a franchise player, the idea of being able to sign him as a low-cost competition quarterback to duke it out with a 22-year-old is a pretty interesting wrinkle that very few expected would happen some six drafts ago.

Even now, as the veneer of Mariota’s franchise QB status slowly fades into memory, he’s still a 6-foot-4 quarterback with a big arm and a 4.52 40 yard dash. If the Colts, in fact, were the team who wanted to acquire Mariota if the deal for Wentz fell through, it’s totally conceivable that he’d be just as good a fit in Nick Sirianni’s scheme as in that of Frank Reich, as they run basically the same offense.

If the Roseman can address the Eagles’ backup quarterback position with a viable 1b who just so happens to be the player his predecessor wanted more than anyone else, something tells me he’ll go out of his way to do it.

Next. 5 QBs the Philadelphia Eagles could bring in to compete with Jalen Hurts. dark

Now, all tongue-in-cheek jokes aside, how the Philadelphia Eagles decide to address the quarterback position this offseason is going to be gosh darn fascinating. They could go all-in on Jalen Hurts and procure him a quality mentor to learn the ropes from like Ryan Fitzpatrick, select a quarterback in the first round like Justin Fields to build their roster around moving forward with Hurts in a reserve role, or ultimately split the difference and go after a quarterback like Marcus Mariota who can do a little bit of both. Which route will they opt to take? Only time will tell but needless to say, this story is far from over.

And hey, if Howie Roseman ultimately decides against signing Marcus Mariota and instead continues to plot his QB factory along with youngsters right around the legal drinking age fear not, for another Chip Kelly product, Dorian Thompson-Robinson, is currently a junior at UCLA and is working his way towards being a mid-round pick in the not too distant future. Not saying it’s the right idea, but it is an idea.