Marcus Mariota, Raiders His lone appearance last season — when he accounted for 314 yards, including 88 rushing, in the Raiders’ Week 15 loss to the Chargers — showcased the tantalizing skills that prompted Tennessee to draft Mariota No. 2 over all in 2015. With a reasonable $10.6 million cap hit next season, Mariota may be able to parlay that single game, and some untapped promise, into a better opportunity elsewhere.
Quarterbacks Who Are Unlikely to Move, but Who Knows?
Derek Carr, Raiders To be clear, the Raiders have shown no inclination to trade Carr, who was the only regular-season quarterback to outduel Patrick Mahomes (and nearly did it twice). But in a division ruled by Mahomes, and with the rookie Justin Herbert of the Chargers ascending, the Raiders might be swayed to move Carr provided they were assured of a definite upgrade. Beyond possibly Watson, there aren’t many of those available.
Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers The 49ers nearly won a Super Bowl with Garoppolo and may be quite content to try to reach another again with him. But he has missed 23 games across the last three seasons, and according to overthecap.com, San Francisco could save $23.6 million by releasing or trading him. Could this be the off-season Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch get younger at the position?
Drew Lock, Broncos The Broncos’ struggle to develop a successor to Peyton Manning led them most recently to Lock. His uneven second season suggested he continues to tilt on the team’s scale of tall, big-armed quarterbacks more toward Brock Osweiler than John Elway, who picked Lock in the second round in 2019. Lock would figure to be involved in any potential deal for Watson, who might be enticed by Denver’s receiving talent.
Dak Prescott, Cowboys When healthy, Prescott ranks among the league’s best quarterbacks. So there is a better chance that Dallas lures Troy Aikman out of retirement than lets Prescott, recovering from a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle, leave in free agency. The Cowboys are still hoping to complete a long-term deal with him before March 9, the deadline for applying a franchise tag, and if the sides can’t agree, Prescott would play under the tag for a second consecutive season.
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers Roethlisberger, who turns 39 next month, told The Athletic that he would be glad to restructure a contract that next season carries a $41.25 million cap charge. That could free up money to help the Steelers retain some of their 19 unrestricted free agents, but the gesture is moot if they decide the team’s long-term prospects are better without him.
Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins It’s possible that Miami, instead of using the third overall pick to surround Tagovailoa with more offensive talent, will choose to draft his replacement instead. But the only plausible scenario in which Tagovailoa is traded this off-season involves the Texans, who would almost certainly demand his inclusion as part of any package for Watson.