Without question, the biggest story surrounding the Tennessee Titans this offseason is whether or not the franchise will extend quarterback Marcus Mariota.
The former Oregon Duck is scheduled to be a free agent after the 2019 season. For now, the Titans seemingly have no interest in extending Mariota. It appears they want to see how he performs this season before they make a decision on his longterm future with the team.
And that’s absolutely the right approach.
Mariota has displayed glimpses of being a franchise quarterback. But constant injuries have prevented him from reaching his full potential.
If the Titans are going to give Mariota a longterm contract, they want to make sure they can count on him every Sunday.
Performance will obviously be a factor as well. But based on recent comments from Titans general manager Jon Robsinon, it’s all about Mariota’s health.
Robinson, while speaking to Sports Illustrated, seems to prefer that Mariota is in Nashville for the long haul.
Now, Robinson says, “we just have to keep him out there.” And so that challenge is clear. If Mariota and the Titans can surmount it, the GM says he sees where he might have his quarterback for the next decade on the roster right now.
“That’s certainly our hope,” Robinson said. “Everybody in this city, they love him. His teammates, I know they love him. We love him. And I’m proud of him, I’m proud of him for what he was able to do in the two or three months he was off. He came back, he was bulked up, and watching him on the practice field, he’s having fun with his teammates, he’s fist-pumping when there’s a big play, he’s kicking the dirt when he has a bad play. He wants to be great.”
I think it’s pretty clear that Robinson wants Mariota to be the guy for the Titans for a long time.
But Robinson didn’t become the general manager of a NFL franchise by being foolish. He knows that blindly signing Mariota to a lucrative contract could set the team back several years.
If Mariota can shed the “injury prone” level in 2019, he will get an extension. It’s that simple.
Now, whether or not he can do that is another question. And it’s one that can’t be answered.
We’ll just have to see how the 2019 season plays out.
Featured image via Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports