After his request to be released from the New York Jets was granted, wide receiver Brandon Marshall is likely to end up with a team that sees itself playing in the Super Bowl next season. The New England Patriots, the defending champions, seem like the favorites to land him, but the New York Giants and Baltimore Ravens are in the picture as well.
Marshall, who had one more season worth $7.5 million with the Jets, didn’t like the direction the franchise was taking. After a promising 2015, their quarterback situation and overall lack of ability to leverage their winning season into something better during 2016 made him realize that he doesn’t have a lot of time left. The soon-to-be 33 year-old wants to play for a championship. Despite being one of the more productive and consistent wide receivers in the NFL for the last 10 seasons (8 out of 10 with 1000 years or more, including 1502 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2015), he has never played in a postseason game.
The Patriots, always a team players want to sign with, have already expressed interest, and so has Marshall, who faced the Patriots with the Jets four times over the last four years. He also played them twice a year during his two seasons in Miami, seeing from up close just how good it can be to play for Bill Belichick and have Tom Brady throwing the ball at you. The Patriots don’t lack for offensive weapons, but Marshall could add another dimension that might be lacking, and make them truly unstoppable, as long as everyone is healthy.
But as we mentioned, Marshall does have options. The Giants, who returned to the playoffs last season and seem to be focused on keeping Eli Manning’s receiver crop in pristine condition, are very interested in adding the 6-time Pro Bowler, who also had one 1st-team All-Pro selection. The Giants aren’t going on the kind of free agency spending spree we saw from them last season, but they will have money for Marshall, hoping that staying in New York is going to be a key factor in his decision.
The Ravens offer something else to Marshall: A chance to be the #1 guy on an offense. Whether he’s actually up to it or not is irrelevant. The Ravens see improving their offense as the main goal for this offseason after missing the playoffs again, and with Joe Flacco struggling to live up to his contract and expectations, adding an experienced, reliable weapon like Marshall should be one of the things that could give them an edge in the difficult AFC North.
Marshall should be still productive in 2017, unless we’re going to see some drastic, Andre Johnson-like dropoff all of a sudden. His disappointing numbers last season had more to do with the mess the Jets had at quarterback than anything else. Whoever signs Marshall will get someone who has hardly missed games during his bountiful NFL career, although he still carries the troublemaker label with him, which could mean he won’t be snatched up as quickly as some think he will be.