Mariota reunites with coach Arthur Smith, who served as offensive coordinator in Tennessee in Mariota’s final season with the Titans in 2019. The Mariota deal came quickly following Atlanta’s decision to trade Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for a third-round pick in April’s draft.
The fit was logical for Mariota both because of familiarity with Smith, and because of the opportunity presented by Atlanta.
Mariota played college football at Oregon, where he was the starting quarterback from 2012 to 2014. As a junior in 2014, Mariota became the first University of Oregon player, as well as the first Hawaii-born athlete, to win the Heisman Trophy. Beginning with his second season as starting quarterback for the Titans, who had only won five games in the previous two seasons, Mariota led the team to three consecutive winning seasons, the most since the team was known as the Houston Oilers. During his fifth season with the team in 2019, the team traded for quarterback Ryan Tannehill in the offseason; Mariota subsequently signed his own free agent deal with the Raiders the following season after Tannehill won the starting job in Tennessee.