With seven years of NFL experience under his belt, Saint Louis alum and Honolulu native Marcus Mariota has stuck around more than twice as long as the average NFL career length of 3.3 years.

By now, Mariota can be considered an NFL veteran despite being just 28 years old. After signing with the Atlanta Falcons in March, Mariota is playing for his third professional team. But unlike his tenure with the Las Vegas Raiders in which he was primarily the backup to Derek Carr, Mariota appears to be the early favorite to be the starter for a rebuilding franchise, who traded former cornerstone Matt Ryan to the Colts days prior to Mariota’s acquisition.

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In addition to signing Mariota, the Falcons selected University of Cincinnati star quarterback Desmond Ridder in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft in April.

It appears the plan in Atlanta is to have Mariota start for a season while Ridder gets groomed and observes the offense firsthand before taking the reins in 2023.

Liberty University quarterback Malik Willis was selected by the Tennessee Titans, Mariota’s former team, 12 picks after Ridder. Willis appears to be a potential succession plan for current Titans starter Ryan Tannehill, who almost immediately shot down plans to be a mentor to Willis.

In a media availability session on Thursday, Mariota said he’s prepared to play the dual role of both starter and mentor.

“The relationships in the quarterback room is always important and special,” Mariota said. “I always felt that a good quarterback room can allow everybody to be better and allow everybody to grow. When we’re out here competing, whether it’s (Ridder), whether it’s Feleipe (Franks), we’re all trying to make each other better. At the end of the day, if they got questions or I got questions, they’re a great set of eyes for me as well. At the end of the day, we’re all out here trying to compete. I think it just makes everyone a little bit better.

“(Ridder) is awesome, he’s a great young guy. Again, it’s important that that room and those relationships be genuine, and I think it’s been great so far.

“I always try to kind of focus on what I can do to be the best player I can be. But at the end of the day, we can all kind of do good things to help this team. Mentorship? Yeah, absolutely. I think I’ve always kind of felt that way no matter if I was in Tennessee or Vegas. At the end of the day, I’m gonna help all these young guys out, I’m gonna do my best to be the best version of myself on the field and just try to win games.”