NASHVILLE, Tenn. » Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota signed with the Tennessee Titans on Tuesday, becoming the last of the NFL’s first-round draft picks to finalize his deal.
The former Oregon quarterback is expected to start immediately, with the timing of the contract keeping the No. 2 overall pick on track to open the season Sept. 13 at Tampa Bay against Jameis Winston — the No. 1 overall selection from the draft.
The Titans started three quarterbacks while going 2-14 in coach Ken Whisenhunt’s debut season. They were so excited about adding Mariota that Whisenhunt began tweaking his offense to fit the quarterback’s skills weeks before the draft.
"I am very grateful and honored to have this opportunity," Mariota said in a statement. "I look forward to the future with my teammates, and I’m truly excited to be part of this team."
Mariota left Oregon after his redshirt junior season. In 2014, the 6-foot-4 222-pounder from Hawaii directed the most efficient offense in the country and led all quarterbacks with a 90.9 rating. Mariota threw for 4,454 yards and 42 touchdowns, while rushing for 770 yards and 15 scores. He was only intercepted four times last season.
That combination of size, mobility and efficiency prompted the Titans to make him their third quarterback drafted within the first eight selections since 2006, and a franchise with only one winning record in the past six seasons has been busy selling Mariota since the moment he was announced as their newest player.
But the timing of Mariota’s contract caused a bit of apprehension for fans of the team. Whether or not the Titans would have Mariota signed in time for the first practice of camp July 31 had been a hot topic on talk radio the past few weeks.
"We look forward to him starting his career on time with his teammates when we open camp next week," general manager Ruston Webster said. "This is an exciting time for the Tennessee Titans organization, and we look forward to a bright future."