Latest NFL conspiracy revolves around Falcons, Marcus Mariota’s IR designation

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The Atlanta Falcons have placed Marcus Mariota on injured reserve Wednesday with surgery planned next week, according to Arthur Smith per Michael Rothstein.

If you haven’t heard the news, the team plans to start Desmond Ridder for the remainder of the season. But that’s only where the drama begins. In summary, it seems Mariota stepped away from the Falcons after learning about his demotion. He suddenly has an injury that requires season-ending surgery? Mind you, Mariota never appeared on any injury report, with no designation of any kind related to his knee since 2015. Also, Smith carefully stated that the decision to turn to Ridder was performance-based.

Josh Kendall of The Athletic added more fuel to the fire, stating the Falcons informed Mariota of the change on Thursday morning; by Friday, the team learned the veteran planned to step away from the team. And Smith went further to say the injury wasn’t an issue all season but that it was Mariota’s prerogative.

It seems the IR designation is nothing more than a surface-level excuse. It does give Mariota a reason to tell future potential employers that he had surgery and couldn’t play. And It all but confirms the Falcons will eventually move on from him.

Typically, I’d give a player with Mariota’s reputation the benefit of the doubt. After all, even following the Steelers game, his teammates voiced their support. He’s been heralded for his professionalism in the past, which makes this entire situation much stranger. But Arthur Smith’s statements are pretty revealing and cannot be glossed over.

There were reports that Marcus Mariota had a child with his partner before the Steelers game, and it wouldn’t be unique if a player took time away to be with his family. But why not just say that? I think everyone would be more receptive if the two sides just led with that. The Falcons and/or Mariota are clearly not telling the entire story.

Photographer: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire
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