Throughout free agency, reports tagged the Las Vegas Raiders as a landing spot for Marcus Mariota, the young and talented signal-caller out of Oregon.
They were right.
Mariota recently signed with the Silver and Black [link release], kickstarting a second chapter in his career as a great addition to Head Coach Jon Gruden's quarterback room. Gruden wasn't the only Raider who loved him — during the 2015 NFL Draft then-NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock had him as his best quarterback in the class, something the Raiders GM acknowledged this week.
"I think the whole thing with my background and Jon's background is a lot of things we said and did in our past in public," Mayock said. "So, if you're Marcus Mariota and you want to know what the General Manager of the Raiders thought about him before he came out, or what Jon Gruden thought about him before he came out, all he's got to do is go back and check public record. I mean he went through Gruden's Quarterback Camp on television. I had him as the top quarterback in that draft. He knows that both of us believed in him coming out and still believe in him."
Mayock also pointed out that Mariota needs to get healthy and stay that way.
"We got to rebuild him a little bit to get his confidence back. Build him up from the ground up. It's going to take a little while I think just to get him healthy and where he wants to be, but we're excited about the quarterback room."
After the news broke, Mariota did an exclusive interview with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser about what went into his decision to join the Silver and Black, and the coaching staff played an important role.
"For me, my priorities in free agency were to, one find a stable head coach and stability within the organization," Mariota said. "Secondly, for me, was just to find a team that I felt comfortable with and that, I felt, could help me reach my potential and become the best player that I could be."
Mariota's college resume is up there with some of the greats, and when he was selected No. 2 overall in the 2015 NFL Draft, many people thought his success would translate to the NFL. In a way it did.
As a member of the Tennessee Titans, Mariota put up quality numbers over his first two seasons, totaling 45 passing touchdowns, four rushing touchdowns, and limited his interceptions to 19; however, coaching changes and new systems impacted the talented signal-caller. When young quarterbacks who are still trying to get a feel for the NFL experience a change of system, it can prompt some uncomfortable adjustments.
Last season, Mariota was supplanted by Ryan Tannehill because the latter was a better fit in Head Coach Mike Vrabel's system. All season, Mariota was frequently asked what his plans were for free agency, but he shrugged them off.
Mariota's decision to join forces with Gruden and Mayock was perhaps the best choice he could've made. Gruden has a knack for grooming quarterbacks and will certainly help him tap into his potential.
The decision to sign Mariota caused spectators around the league to wonder what this means for Derek Carr, but Mariota was quick to quell those rumblings.
"This is Derek [Carr's] team," he told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. "I'm here to support Derek, but this journey is more about me trying to find out how I can become the best player that I can be."
Mariota is a team-first kind of guy, but that doesn't mean he's going to lay down and not compete. Gruden and Mayock brought him here to compete, and he's the best No. 2 quarterback the Raiders have had in quite some time.
View photos of new Raiders quarterback Marcus Mariota in action. Having spent the last five seasons with the Tennessee Titans, Mariota passed for 13,207 yards with a 62.9 complication percentage, and 76 touchdowns.