As many expected, the Falcons have officially parted ways with Marcus Mariota, the team announced on Tuesday.
We have released QB Marcus Mariota
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) February 28, 2023
The veteran was brought in as a bridge quarterback from Matt Ryan to whichever young signal caller the team acquired; it ended up being Desmond Ridder.
Mariota started 13 games, leading Atlanta to a 5-8 record while tossing for over 2,000 yards and 15 touchdowns against nine interceptions. He also added nearly 450 yards on the ground.
However, a benching resulted in a frenzy. When Atlanta turned to Ridder, Mariota seemingly stepped away from the Falcons; a phantom injury ended his season despite never appearing on any injury report. By all accounts, Marcus Mariota took his ball and went home.
According to reports, the Falcons informed Mariota of the change on Thursday morning; by Friday, the team learned the veteran planned to step away. Arthur Smith went even further to say the injury wasn’t an issue all season and that it was Mariota’s prerogative.
The Falcons will save a whopping $12 million by releasing him while only incurring a $2.5 million dead cap figure. It was impossible to imagine the Falcons keeping him on the roster in 2023 at that cost. Atlanta has approximately $65 million in cap space following the move, which is the second-highest mark in the NFL.
Mariota is set to appear on Netflix’s ‘Quarterback’ docuseries, and I can’t wait to see the behind the scenes of this entire controversy. By all accounts, Mariota was touted for his leadership prior to arriving in Atlanta. Everything that happened with the Falcons is the exact opposite of his reputation. The public clearly doesn’t have the entire story.
Photographer: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire