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Marcus Mariota Breaks Silence on Why He Left Falcons After Benching in 2022 Season

The last time fans saw Marcus Mariota in an Atlanta Falcons uniform was on December 4. He threw an interception in the final minute of regulation in a 19-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Following the loss, Mariota lost his job during the team’s bye week and finished the season on injured reserve.

Fans will see Mariota with the Philadelphia Eagles this fall, but before the season, he will appear on Netflix’s new series “Quarterback.” In the documentary, Mariota finally opened up about his final weeks with the Falcons.

“So, during the bye week, my daughter was born, Makaia,” Mariota said in the series, according to CBS Sports. “When she was born, Art brought me in… the following day.

“It was, like, talking about the future and kind of what he wanted to do, and they told me that they were going to play Des for the last four games. Initially, he had said, ‘At this point and time in the year, the playoffs are a long shot, and we just kind of want to see what Des can do.'”

After his demotion, he underwent surgery for a chronic knee injury. That made Mariota unavailable to be Ridder’s backup, and he was never on the sideline again for the Falcons.

Mariota argued during the Netflix series that he did what he thought was best for himself and the Falcons.

“I gave everything I had for this team. I thought I was making a good decision for everybody,” said Mariota. “Ultimately, we decided that getting my knee fixed was in the best interest. I came home, got my knee fixed and [have] been in Vegas.”

Falcons head coach Arthur Smith said in the documentary that when he and Mariota discussed Ridder starting the rest of the season, there was no mention of Mariota undergoing surgery. The veteran quarterback hadn’t been on the injury report before going on injured reserve.

That fact undoubtably led to a lot of Mariota’s criticism. But it’s clear Smith doesn’t hold any resentment toward the veteran signal caller.

“I love Marcus; thankful that I got to spend more time with him,” Smith said. “People look at them, and they think they’re robots. They wear a helmet, that they’re these modern-day gladiators, but there’s life outside this building. He gave us everything he had.”

Mariota signed a one-year, $5 million contract with the Eagles this offseason. He will serve as a backup to Jalen Hurts in 2023.

Ridder started the final four games last season after replacing Mariota. Ridder led the Falcons to a 2-2 record. He posted a 63.5% completion percentage with 2 touchdowns and zero interceptions while averaging 6.2 yards per attempt.

Mariota went 5-8 as Atlanta’s starter last season. He completed 61.3% of his passes with 2,219 yards, 15 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. He also rushed for a career-high 438 yards and 4 scores.