After benching, Marcus Mariota leaves Falcons

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Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota is out. Literally.

After being benched for rookie Desmond Ridder for performance reasons, Mariota has left the team. And the team doesn’t know if he’ll be back.

Coach Arthur Smith has said Mariota will be placed on injured reserve. The minimum four-game absence would knock him out for the rest of the regular season. Via Josh Kendall of, Smith said Tuesday that Mariota is currently not with the Falcons.

Smith told Mariota last Thursday that he’ll be benched for Ridder. On Friday, Smith learned that Mariota planned to “step away” from the team.

In lieu of placing Mariota on injured reserve, the Falcons could cut Mariota. He’d then head to waivers, like Baker Mayfield did last week.

Mariota was the second overall pick in the 2015 draft. The Titans benched him for Ryan Tannehill in 2019.

After two seasons with the Raiders, Mariota signed a two-year deal with the Falcons. He received a $5 million signing bonus, and a fully-guaranteed salary of $1.75 million for 2022.

Without Mariota, Logan Woodside will serve as the backup to Ridder, a third-round pick in April.

112 responses to “After benching, Marcus Mariota leaves Falcons

  1. Seems a bit out of character for Mariotta, but who knows. Wonder if there’s more to the story.

  2. I’m not there and don’t know the inner workers of the locker room or his relationships with coaches and teamates but this seems like a ereally bad move for Mariota. It’s got to be dissapointing to get benched but you don’t walk away during the season. Finish the year! Man up! They could have gone right back to him after a week of Ritter. The team is in the playoff hunt. You’re playing for the next opportunity!

  3. I read somewhere else his first child was born and when he left for that they notified him of the benching. Family first.
    If that’s how it went down. Shame on the Falcons. 28-3.

  4. What a horrible teammate, quitting on his team. I imagine his career will be over after this move

  5. If I were the team, I would be stepping towards taking some of that sign on bonus back. Take a mental/ego leave of absence on your own dime.

  6. This doesn’t bode well for his next opportunity, if there even is one. Gotta take benching in stride. If Ridder comes in and absolutely flops then it raises Mariota’s value. He’s had some chances and this seems like it was the last for him to be a starter. Doesn’t mean he couldn’t come in a get a decent contract being a backup or bridge. Then again he just burned the bridge.

  7. Mariotta’s first child was born last week. Maybe he went home to spend time with his wife and child since he is injured and is unable to play.

  8. Mariota will be playing with someone next year. He’s better than a lot of starting QBs.

  9. Says a whole bunch about the man if this is true. A real leader doesn’t dip out when the going gets tough. It’s a team sport despite what he may think.

  10. Don’t cut him. He would get to keep all the signing bonus money. Make him show up for work or suspend him

  11. So, a team can arbitrarily place a player on injured reserve against their will and that player is not injured. Not sure that passes the NFLPA smell test.

  12. Two sides to a story, let’s wait and hear Mariotta’s before passing judgement

  13. charliecharger says:
    December 13, 2022 at 8:13 pm
    Mariota will be playing with someone next year. He’s better than a lot of starting QBs.

    Please name a few of the starters Mariota is better than. Maybe Zach Wilson but he’s no longer starting. Probably on par with Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan. I’d take Darnold, Mayfield, Dalton, Davis Mills and maybe even DeSean Watson over Mariota. Have to think about Watson though, considering his baggage.

  14. Mariotta is one of the good guys. Walking off the job would be way out of character for him. I don’t think we have the whole story. Not making excuses but his wife just gave birth to his 1st child and then there is a possible knee problem.

  15. Out of everything Marcus Mariota has been through this is out of character for a home so there is more to the story that we will find out as time progresses.

  16. Where are the rest of the facts? You know like his wife just gave birth to his first child, and he’s been nursing a bad knee, and yes he threw a tantrum after finding out he was being benched after agreeing to put off taking care of his knee until AFTER the season. Chances are he’s going to take the benching, and use that as his excuse to go get his knee taken care of now, and that will allow him to be home with his first child at the same time. All of which is not a very good look, but hey who needs the facts.
    At the end of the day He walked out on his teammates, and that’s never a good thing regardless of the reasons

  17. The actions of this guy makes you respect QBs that get benched but still remain with the team and literally cheer for the starting QB from the sidelines.

  18. It looks bad from the outside looking in, sure. Maybe it’s a toxic situation with the coach or coaches…maybe it’s something else all together. Maybe, in his mind, he’s just reached the end the road, frustrated and doesn’t really like playing football anymore. He’s never lived up to the hype as a no.1 draft pick, but that’s probably because he was overrated from the start. Maybe, if he was drafted in the middle rounds, and was a QB2 for a few seasons with no high expectations and some time to develop…who knows. As it is maybe he’s just ‘done’.

  19. Can you do that? Can you just adios your contract because you don’t like Coach’s decisions?

  20. Smear job by Atlanta. Mariota has been a class act throughout his career, both as a starter and as a backup.There are a lot of facts missing in this story, get back to us when you discover them.

  21. The birth of a child is a bogus excuse. How many military dads never get to be there at the birth of their children? Far too many. I won’t buy that excuse.

  22. Everything I heard about Mariota while he was in TN was positive, even after he was benched. He had the respect of the whole team. So I don’t think we are getting the full story. His wife did just have their first child, so that, combined with the knee problem that was hampering his play (which I read on another site) may have lead to this decision. I was pulling for him because he really did well in TN under Arthur Smith but the Falcons haven’t been a great organization in a loooong time. Wishing Marcus well and congrats on the new baby!

  23. Don’t you have to be good to pull a stunt like this and expect it to be overlooked somewhere in the future?

  24. The rumor is Mariota wanted to spend time with his family after his wife gave birth and was sick for a bit and the Falcons announced Ridder was starting shortly after. Pathetic Falcons you deserved 28 to 3.

  25. Something tells me stories like this about another #2 overall pick, Zach Wilson, are a few years away.

  26. It’s been widely reported elsewhere he is getting an outside 2nd opinion on his knee.

    And yes, his first child was born today.

  27. Pulled a Mayfield. Let’s see if he has a good drive somewhere else and then we can pretend he is a hall of famer.

  28. I always had the impression he was a mature, team-first guy. Guessing there’s more to this than what’s written.

  29. He and his wife just had their first child. That is enough to take some time away. Priorities. As he (and a lot of other players) have found out, a team will toss you out as soon as a cheaper/better alternative comes along. You’ll have multiple teams but only one family. I say good for him.

  30. Lol, well when he was on the Raiders he looked like he had a lot of energy so I guess it’s not a surprise if he blew a fuse.

  31. “ Can you do that? Can you just adios your contract because you don’t like Coach’s decisions?”


  32. Good for him. Most guys don’t have the brass to walk away from a good paying job if they aren’t feeling appreciated.

  33. He’s made more money before age 30 than the vast majority of Americans will make in their life, he and his wife just had a child, and he got demoted by a team going nowhere. I could see where a guy could just say eff this, I don’t need this gig.

  34. charliecharger says:
    December 13, 2022 at 8:13 pm
    Mariota will be playing with someone next year. He’s better than a lot of starting QBs.

    Nah, he’s really not.

  35. Maybe he should have played better if he didn’t want to get benched. People caping for him by saying his wife just gave birth. Well, plenty of guys haven’t quit on their team after they’ve become a father. Just saying.

  36. Every NFL coach and GM will try to do whatever is best for their team, and Marcus Mariota will have many, many opportunities. I’m not passing judgement on anyone. I’ve seen QBs come and go. Atlanta is trying to figure out their future, too. There were ten new coaches this year out of 32 teams, so obviously not every coach that gets hired is up to the task. I’ve seen too many good QBs get moved to other teams and win super bowls. I’ve seen coaches get their hands on a QB that wasn’t living up to expectations and turn their careers in a better direction. Every time a player leaves a team it doesn’t mean someone made a mistake. A perfect environment is different for each guy. Good luck to everyone involved.

  37. The Falcons already said he’s injured but they’re benching him anyway. Sounds like what Irsay tried to do to Matt Ryan, declaring backup Sam Ehlinger would start the rest of the season.
    The irony will be next year when Irsay signs Mariota to be the next one year starting QB for the Colts.

  38. It is crazy to think what could have been both for both men if the Titans just hired Chip Kelly.

  39. I am little shocked here as Mariota has always been a high character guy and has been through the ringer before. Never know what happened behind the scene but it isn’t a good look. Might be he is just done with football and sees no reason to play out the year.

  40. It’s starting to become a trend of players giving up on the Falcons and their coach. Not long before the coach is out the door. Mariota doesn’t look like the problem, benching him seems like he was being scapegoated to help the coach keep his job. Guess it’s Ridder or bust now.

  41. I feel like there’s more to this story then we are seeing. That’s an unusual move to just leave.

  42. Out of character for Marcus Mariota here which makes me believe that either his wife had the baby or he’s getting his knee checked out by someone he trusts or maybe both

  43. I picture the scene from The Jerk , “All I need is this football and this towel and these cleats “

  44. Mariota and Winston. 2 busts. Good riddance. What a bad teammate. I hope the owners keep this clown out of the league.

  45. If they waive him, he could end up in SF? Insurance for Purdy? I am in Oregon and this is NOT the way Mariota was at all at any step of his career.

  46. Lots of judging going on here, (Lame duck, take the ball and go home…, what a horrible teammate, what a punk, nothing like throwing a tantrum, etc), we all owe him the benefit of the doubt. As several people pointed out, it’s not in his character to just up and leave so we need to hear his side of the story.
    What happened to innocent until proven guilty.
    or is that only in books and movies.

  47. There are 64 QB jobs in the NFL. He just threw one of them away. Off with him! No more shall he dare to seek a job in the league. His weak character has been revealed. Not a leader of men, is he.

  48. Lots of people assuming what happened with zero information. Hope the Niners sign him to back up Purdy next year. Dude has talent. He lit it up with the Raiders. Top notch backup.

  49. I’ll wait to hear from Cus. He’s been a great teammate and role model everywhere he’s been including college. No one has ever said anything bad about him.

    Lets not forget it’s the second time he’s been benched by this coach. It’s not like this is the first time and he doesn’t know how to handle it. If the comments about him having a child are true, it says a lot about the Atlanta organization and they owe him a public apology. Hopefully he goes back to Hawaii and enjoys some family time. God bless you Cus.

  50. He may be better than some current starting QBs but he doesn’t have more upside than any of them. His rushing ability elevates his floor but his ceiling is very seriously hard-capped by his (lack of) throwing ability.

  51. There is always 2sides to each story. However, I suspect the reality of being a career backup QB. May have just sunk in for mr. Mariotta

  52. I don’t know of an professional sports organization now that does not allow for some sort of paternity leave for a player to go be with newborn children. He’s pissed off about the benching and handled it completely unprofessionally and it will most likely cost him greatly in the future. You can get away with a lot in sports, but bailing on your teammates? That’s like the 1st rule of fight club.

  53. Mayfield pull a tantrum and end up starting for the panthers, then he was notified by the panthers that they were benching him and ask for his release. Now he starting for the Rams and looked as the savior.

    MM is far from being a punk, situations like this take time to process. If anything he should be asking to be release.

  54. Sometimes you hear something and you know there is no way what you were just given was all the info. I’ll wait until I hear the rest.

  55. Remember when the discussion was Winston or Mariota? Looking again at the 2015 first round draft class, brutal.

  56. Ok but why risk an injury if the team is ALSO DONE WITH HIM. Good on him. Stay healthy, get cut, maybe SF picks him up or MIA. You never know. Good on Mariota.

  57. I wish he would have stayed on the Raiders. Always loved the guy I wanted the Bucs to draft him over crab legs, eat a W. Winston. both of them are now bench warmers. I hope he’s okay because this is out of character for him.

  58. Does anyone remember when Chip Kelly wanted to trade the entire Eagles roster to move up and draft this guy? Either he couldn’t get any takers or Jeffrey Lurie wouldn’t allow it. Either way, Chip was fired and Howie Roseman was reinstated as GM the next year. As it was, Howie spent 2 years fixing Chip’s mistakes. I don’t think he would’ve been able to fix that one!

  59. Career suicide. Quitting on a team is a bad look. It’s a label that is hard to shake.

  60. Didn’t his wife have their first child recently? Maybe they refused to let him go be with her, while so many other organizations let their players do that. If that’s true the Falcon org sucks. Family first.

  61. His kid was just born??? Absolutely asinine. There have been thousands of times players have had a child born during the season. The hardcore guys often choose to play. Others make it to the birth, then come back to their teams a couple days later. Why does this guy get a pass to quit on his teammates? When have you EVER heard of a HC blasting a guy publicly for taking time for the birth of a kid? Never.

  62. Let’s get ALL the facts 1st. He’s always seemed to be a stand up character guy. I heard it was family 1st

  63. mainewoodchopper says:
    December 14, 2022 at 8:30 am
    Career suicide. Quitting on a team is a bad look. It’s a label that is hard to shake.


    That sounds nice & all, but as it happens players=people as well (interestingly) & they all make choices they regret later on. By the way, have you noticed Baker Mayfield just won player of the week after quitting on how many teams in the last year…

  64. The Falcons’ problems did not start or end with Mariota. A lot of people on here assuming a lot and calling him a bad teammate when none of us knows what’s going on. Mariota has a reputation as a team player. He’s not pulling an ego trip. There’s more to this.

  65. Perhaps he’s a big soccer fan and would rather be home watching the final and deciding game of the World Cup from Qatar this Sunday.

  66. So many here are brainwashed to support overpaid failures. Stop treating him like a baby. He was crap.

  67. Marcus Mariota has proven that he is not only a bad player, but he is also a bad teammate. Mariota should have been benched weeks ago based on his disgraceful play, but he kept his starting job ONLY because of his relationship with Arthur Smith in Tennessee. And BTW, the Atlanta Falcons were the only team to offer the Hawaiian scrub a chance to be a starter. And this is how he repays the Falcons’ organization? He takes his crayons and goes home; leaving the team to have a practice squad player as the backup.

  68. Not only is this a selfish and childish move by Marcus Mariota, it is also a stupid move. It’s stupid because it effectively ends his career. No team will offer him a job, knowing that if he loses his starting job, he will quit. He isn’t good enough to pull a stunt like this. He was lucky to be starting in the first place.

    And to the Mariota fanboys using the excuse that he just had a child: since when was having a child an excuse to leave the team? A few weeks ago, a player’s wife had a child and that player rushed to the stadium to play in the game that same day. Being away from family is part of the price of being a pro athlete. And if you’re going to say he was justified in doing it because he lost his starting job, that says alot about you. I GUARANTEE you that the other players (the starters and backups) who are bleeding and sweating and are away from their own families, have ZERO respect for Mariota. And he should be forced to forfeit the rest of his contract because no contract guarantees a player a starting job.

  69. How come we never heard anything about Marcus Mariota’s “knee injury” until after he was justifiably benched in favor of Desmond Ridder? Sounds like a convenient injury.

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