Marcus Mariota has done well during offseason practices.
Jim Brown/Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
Marcus Mariota had a blast huddling with groups of children Tuesday as part of an NFL Play 60 Event held at Cleveland Browns headquarters.
Whether the quarterback will be doing the same with his Tennessee Titans teammates at the start of training camp remains in question.
Mariota is the only unsigned 2015 first-round draft pick and no agreement appears imminent. While that can easily change in the roughly five weeks remaining before the Titans open camp on July 30, the thought of Mariota not being under contract by then isn’t appealing for either party. Mariota is pegged to start for the Titans and like all rookies, especially quarterbacks, can use a full camp to best prepare for such a daunting task.
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If he’s concerned, Mariota isn’t saying so publicly. Mariota told co-host Gil Brandt and me that he’s "not worried about it at all" during an interview for SiriusXM NFL Radio.
"Obviously, it’s a business deal," said Mariota, who was in Ohio as part of the NFL’s mandatory Rookie Symposium for all incoming draft choices.
"It’s going to take some time. That’s why you hire your agent."
The delay in finalizing the Mariota deal could be a disagreement over what is known as offset language.
It’s a given that all of Mariota’s contract, which is projected in the $21 million range over four years, will be guaranteed by Tennessee. If the Titans were to release Mariota before the fourth year and he joined a new team, the offset clauses would come into play. Tennessee wouldn’t be responsible for paying Mariota the remaining money on his contract. Mariota would only be paid whatever salary is negotiated with his new club, preventing him from "double-dipping," and the Titans would receive a salary-cap credit.
The Titans have precedent of demanding offset language in their contracts and also can point to the player selected before Mariota in the 2015 draft. Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston has offset language in his four-year, $23.5 million contract.
Two of Tennessee’s past three first-round draft picks — wide receiver Kendall Wright (2012) and guard Chance Warmack (2013) — missed the opening of training camp because they were unsigned.
"I personally don’t see there being a major issue," Titans general manager Ruston Webster told Nashville radio station 104.5 The Zone last week. "I don’t concern myself too much with it if a guy misses a few days.
"We’ve had good talks. We’re motivated. Marcus is motivated. So I would expect that we would be able to get something done. We have plenty of time right now, so we’ll just see where it all goes."
Mariota was the winningest quarterback in University of Oregon history and helped lead the Ducks into last season’s College Football Playoff Championship game. Mariota has looked sharp in Tennessee’s offseason workouts that were open to the media.
"It’s gone well," Mariota said Tuesday. "It’s learning the game and being able to transition your game from college to the NFL. For me, it’s just taking it one day at a time. Learning the system, being able to use my abilities and being the same player I was (at Oregon)."