Titans head coach Mike Vrabel has made it clear on multiple occasions that Marcus Mariota is his team’s starting quarterback for the 2019 season, but there are no guarantees for the second overall pick of the 2015 draft beyond that point.
Mariota is in the fifth and final year of his rookie deal and there’s been question this offseason about whether the Titans will go all in on a future with him running the offense. In addition to the need to see him play well on a weekly basis, part of the question is whether Mariota can stay healthy as he’s yet to play every game in a season.
Vrabel didn’t say exactly what the team will need to see to extend their commitment to Mariota, but expressed confidence that the quarterback will come through.
“When you make a commitment to the QB you want to make sure that this is going to be your guy for the next 7-10 years when you look at the percentage of the cap quarterbacks are driving,” Vrabel said, via Robert Klemko of SI.com. “Nobody is more proud of what Marcus has done in the offseason than me. He’s come back stronger, bigger, with greater understanding of what we’re doing offensively, being able to communicate it to players the field. I don’t look at the lack of a long-term extension as a negative, though that’s what people try to make it. I know Marcus’s demeanor and that won’t change whether he’s on a 10-year contract or its up after the season. He’s that type of person. So I know it’ll work because of how he is.”
The lack of an extension at this point may not be a negative, but it is unusual. Mariota and Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston are the first quarterbacks picked in the first round under the current CBA set to play out their fifth years without extensions, which makes for high stakes in both Tennessee and Tampa Bay this year.