Sources: Commanders sign QB Marcus Mariota to 1-year deal

ByJohn Keim ESPN logo
Wednesday, March 13, 2024

The Washington Commanders, who are widely expected to select a quarterback with the second overall pick in next month's draft, agreed to a deal with veteran Marcus Mariota, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter on Tuesday.

Mariota, who played sparingly for the Philadelphia Eagles last season, agreed to a one-year deal worth $6 million that could reach $10 million with incentives, sources told ESPN. The Commanders also have Sam Howell, who started every game last season, and are likely to select between quarterbacksDrake Maye and Jayden Danielsin next month's draft.

It's among the latest moves for Washington during the early part of free agency. The Commanders have added multiple starters during this time, including deals with veteran running backAustin Ekelerand veteran tight endZach Ertz.

Washington also made a pair of moves to bolster its defense Tuesday. A source confirmed to ESPN that the team agreed to a deal with defensive end Dante Fowler Jr., the third player the Commanders landed at that position since Monday's legal tampering period began. He joinsDorance Armstrong and Clelin Ferrell as new Commander ends.

Former Carolina Panthers safety Jeremy Chinnagreed with the Commanderson a one-year deal worth up to approximately $5.2 million, a source confirmed to ESPN.

Washington's backup quarterback in 2023, Jacoby Brissett, agreed to a one-year deal with the New England Patriots on Monday, but the Commanders were not strong suitors for him.

Mariota's arrival provides options for Washington. The Commanders could draft a quarterback and keep three on the roster. They could see if Howell could be a future No. 2 for them, or they could decide to trade him if the team receives a good offer.

In 17 games last season, Howell threw 21 touchdown passes to 21 interceptions and was sacked an NFL-high 65 times, with 40 coming in the first seven games. Washington selected him in the fifth round of the 2022 draft, but that was with a different owner, general manager and coach.

Commanders general manager Adam Peters has said repeatedly that he wants to build through the draft. Though Washington has filled multiple holes via free agency, it still must rebuild its roster and they want to do so via the draft.

Mariota, 30, appeared in three games for the Eagles, completing 15 of 23 passes for 164 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Washington's pass game coordinator Brian Johnson served as the Eagles' offensive coordinator last season.

Mariota started the first 13 games of the 2022 season for the Falcons before being benched for rookie Desmond Ridder. He spent the previous two seasons as Derek Carr's backup with the Raiders after losing his starting job with the Titans in 2019.

The second overall pick in 2015 by the Titans, Mariota has played in 90 games -- with teams going 34-40 with him as the starter. He has completed 62.7% of his passes for 15,820 yards, 93 touchdowns and 55 interceptions. He has also rushed for 2,064 yards and 17 touchdowns during his career.

Fowler helps strengthen the Commanders at defensive end following in-season trades ofMontez Sweatto Chicago andChase Youngto San Francisco.

New Washington coach Dan Quinn recruited Fowler to Florida in 2012 and later coached him in Atlanta and Dallas. Fowler recorded a combined 10 sacks the past two years as a backup end with the Cowboys under Quinn. Fowler, the third pick in the 2015 draft by Jacksonville, has recorded 45 career sacks.

Fowler has also played for theLos Angeles Rams.

Chinn's versatility gave the Panthers high hopes he would be a key contributor in 2023, but he missed five games with a significant quad injury and had a career-low 30 tackles. Even when he was healthy down the stretch he didn't get significant snaps -- 12 against the Green Bay Packers, 11 against the Jacksonville Jaguars and 22 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- which prompted him to suggest a change of scenery was needed.

Chinn had 117 tackles as a rookie under Matt Rhule when he played primarily linebacker and was a candidate for NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He had 107 his second season when he played free safety. He still had 70 tackles in his third season when he played only 11 games at safety, but never was a factor last season under Frank Reich, who was fired after a 1-10 start.

Chinn, 26, has 324 tackles, 4 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and 2 interceptions in his career.

The Commanders' deals with Fowler and Chinn were first reported by Bleacher Report.

ESPN's David Newton contributed to this report.

Related Video