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Raiders QB Marcus Mariota Earned $825,000 After Taking Over vs. Chargers

There’s always an asterisk with NFL contracts but Marcus Mariota’s play against the Chargers could result in a big payday.
Not bad for a night’s work

There’s always an asterisk with NFL contracts but Marcus Mariota’s play against the Chargers could result in a big payday. 

The Raiders were forced to turn to Mariota when Derek Carr injured his groin on the second Las Vegas series of the game. It was Mariota’s first action of the season and his first opportunity to earn some of the bonuses included in his incentive-laden contract. 

According to ESPN’s Field Yates, Mariota is poised to earn $200,000 whenever he plays more than 60% of the Raiders’ snaps in a game. That number increases to $325,000 if Vegas wins the game. (This is on top of a fully guaranteed 2020 salary of $7.5 million.) Additionally, playing at least 60% of the snaps in any single game bumps Mariota’s 2021 salary up by $625,000.

Mariota ended up playing 86% of the snaps, so he could have earned $950,000 if the Raiders had won. The Chargers came out on top, despite their best efforts to give the game away, so Mariota earned $825,000 in bonuses. 

There’s a catch, though. It’s possible that Mariota doesn’t see the additional $625,000 that was tacked on to his 2021 salary. His pay for next season isn’t guaranteed and the Raiders can save more than $10 million on their salary cap if Mariota isn’t with the team. That’s a lot of money to pay a backup quarterback but Mariota showed on Thursday that he’s the best backup in the NFL, so the team could decide it’s worth it to have him behind Carr, in which case Mariota keeps the $625,000. 

There’s another way Mariota could keep that money, too. His performance against the Chargers definitely could have convinced other teams that he’s capable of being a perfectly reliable starter. If the Raiders trade him, they don’t even have to eat any dead money on their cap. Could a team with a hole at quarterback deal for him? Maybe a team that drafts a QB next spring will want to bring Mariota in to play the Ryan Fitzpatrick role. 

Mariota probably isn’t done cashing in this year, either. Jon Gruden said after the game that Carr’s groin injury is “significant.” That lines up Mariota to start at least one more game and earn at least another $200,000. Not a bad deal. 

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