I sat down with Titans GM Jon Robinson Thursday and he finally said it. Marcus Mariota will be the Titans’ quarterback next season. 

The Titans picked up his fifth-year option in May that will pay him about $20.9 million in 2019. That contract is not guaranteed until the new league year begins Mar. 13. 

“We want him to be here a long time,” Robinson added, “There’s a lot of things that factor into that, that go into that, that we are working through and we are glad he’s here.” 

The next question is what about beyond 2019? Do the Titans work to extend him this year or see how the season plays out? It’s one of the most complicated questions Robinson is facing because any kind of long-term deal would likely have a number around or over $100 million. 

Robinson said over and over that Mariota has made a lot of big plays for this team and what he has done when he’s been on the field, but the extension question gets a tap dance answer. 

“I know Marcus is a tough guy” Robinson said, “I know he loves his teammates here. He loves this team and we are going to sort of keep sawing away at it and see where we end up.” 

The best way for Mariota to lock up a long-term deal is to make it to the 16th game of the season. He has only done it one time in four years. 

The Titans QB has drawn criticism from some fans for not playing in the Titans last game this season. A win would have sent them to the playoffs, but a spine specialist said he was at risk for permanent damage, so the team and Mariota decided that was too dangerous. 

Fans are fans though, and sometimes the thought of the playoffs outweighs safety, even something as serious as a spinal injury. 

Robinson agreed it’s tough to hear when no one wanted Mariota to play more than Marcus did.  

“He and I talked about that and you have to put your blinders on and focus on the team and not listen to what’s going on out there. When you’re the quarterback, the general manager, the head coach there’s going to be criticism that comes with certain things.” 

Despite the injuries, Mariota wins games. In fact, he is the only quarterback in Titans history to lead them to three straight winning seasons. 

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