Marcus Mariota signed with the Falcons the day the Matt Ryan trade to the Colts was announced. Arthur Smith’s familiarity with him certainly had to be a driving force in the signing, which got done almost immediately after the Ryan news broke.
The Falcons have their apparent bridge quarterback. The front office has positioned themselves to draft a quarterback in the next two years with Mariota’s contract. Atlanta signed the former Heisman Trophy winner to a two-year deal, but the contract is essentially a one-year, prove-it deal with the opportunity to return in 2023.
Marcus Mariota’s two-year contract with the #Falcons is effectively a one-year, $6.75 million deal with a $12M option for 2023. He gets a $5M signing bonus and $1.75M guaranteed base salary this year. A $3M roster bonus is due the 5th day of league year next March.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 22, 2022
If the Falcons take a quarterback in this year’s draft, Mariota could see a re-worked contract in 2023 to return to the team. Depending on the development of the rookie, Mariota could return as a starter or backup in that sense. If the Falcons hold off on drafting a signal caller until 2023, I’d argue it’s a certainty that Mariota returns to provide veteran leadership to the young rookie.
Either way, this deal is extremely team-friendly and keeps the Falcons flexible under almost any circumstance that could arise.