NFL Quarterback Marcus Mariota Left The Team After Benching

Mariota was also not at the team's facilities last Monday because his wife had gone into labor with their first child, according to Smith.

NFL Quarterback Marcus Mariota Left The Team After Benching - SurgeZirc US
NFL Quarterback Marcus Mariota Left The Team After Benching.

According to The Athletic, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota has left the team and there is some uncertainty about when, if ever, he will return to the group.

Mariota’s departure comes after Falcons head coach Arthur Smith stated that the decision to bench the veteran quarterback was “based on performance.”

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Despite not playing a single snap this season, third-round rookie Desmond Ridder will take over as a starter. Mariota’s absence was not ideal, according to Smith, but the team was prepared to go without him.

“Of course, you want all your guys to be here, but guys have to make decisions. It’s part of professional sports. You have to have contingency plans,” head coach Arthur Smith said.

NFL Quarterback Reportedly Left The Team After Benching - SurgeZirc US
Marcus Mariota #1 and Desmond Ridder #4 of the Atlanta Falcons walk off the field.

Smith oddly added that Mariota has been dealing with a lingering knee injury, which will most likely result in the quarterback being placed on injured reserve.

Mariota’s knee “is nothing that has been an issue this season, but that’s (his) prerogative so … ” Smith clarified on Tuesday.

Following the team’s Week 13 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Smith left the door open to making a quarterback change.

NFL Quarterback Reportedly Left The Team After Benching - SurgeZirc US
Marcus Mariota #1 of the Atlanta Falcons jogs with teammates.

“We will have some very intense meetings in the next couple days. There will be changes made. Everything we decide to do, I will try to be as transparent as possible,” Smith said on Dec. 5.

Mariota was also not at the team’s facilities last Monday because his wife had gone into labor with their first child, according to Smith.

According to The Athletic, Smith informed Mariota on Thursday morning that Ridder would be starting at quarterback. The Falcons learned on Friday that Mariota intended to leave the team.

“Those (conversations) are never easy. You try to be truthful, whether they agree or not, those are the conversations you have to have,” Smith said.

Mariota agreed to terms with the Falcons on a two-year, $18.75 million contract after the team traded Matt Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts in March.

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The Falcons have a 5-8 record under the former Oregon standout and Heisman Trophy winner. However, Mariota’s passing yards, touchdown passes, and competition percentage all rank in the bottom half of the league.

During the preseason, Ridder saw significant action. In those exhibition games, he completed 60.1% of his passes for 431 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions.

Because the Falcons play in the NFC South, where every team currently has a losing record, they are still in playoff contention. Atlanta travels to New Orleans this weekend for a crucial divisional matchup against the Saints.

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