It seems every time a diva wide receiver comes on the market, the Baltimore Ravens are somehow linked.
For examples, see:
2000 - Keyshawn Johnson
2004 - Terrell Owens
2005 - Randy Moss
2009 - Anquan Boldin and now Brandon Marshall
Other than Owens, whom the team traded for before Owens screwed them and maneuvered himself to Philadelphia, the team has explored but resisted the temptation to acquire those players.
Now that Marshall has apparently asked to be traded, the rumor mill has started to churn again, and according to the Baltimore Sun, the team is "doing its homework" on Marshall. The easy joke here would be to simply look at the police blotter, but that's for another time.
To say that Marshall has baggage is like saying Michael Jackson—the singer not the ex-Ravens wide-out—isn't like other guys.
Marshall's ugly history of alleged domestic violence was exposed for the world on ESPN's Outside the Lines. He's been hauled in by the cops and before judges in three different states.
Allegedly, Marshall and his cousin were involved in the fight that escalated into the shooting death of teammate Darrent Williams. To paraphrase the late Eazy-E, Marshall's identity by itself causes drama. And if that wasn't enough, he also had hip surgery this offseason.
Still, Marshall would seem to be just what the Ravens need on the football field. A big, physical receiver with speed to burn, who's only 25 years old. The team's best wide-out, Derrick Mason, is a tough hombre and a solid citizen but is also 34 years old and strictly a possession guy at this stage of his career.
The Ravens finally got themselves a franchise-caliber quarterback in Joe Flacco, whose strength as a passer is the deep ball. With Marshall in purple and black, the Ravens might finally have the missing piece to leap over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North.
Besides the obvious physical gifts, the Ravens have to be asking themselves if Marshall is a Randy Moss type that just needs a disciplined, winning atmosphere or if he's simply a knucklehead like Owens or Chad Ochocinco.
All that said, the Ravens should—and probably will—steer clear of this one.
For one, the asking price is likely going to be too high, at least a first-round pick. Plus, Marshall is seeking $9 million a year and there's no point in giving up a first-round pick for the guy if you can't sign him long-term.
There's no way General Manager Ozzie Newsome gives a head case like Marshall $9 mil before he gives that money to a good soldier like Terrell Suggs.
Then there is Marshall's off-the-field issues. You don't know if he's going to be on the field or in a jail cell on Sunday, given his track record. Even if you don't believe every word of Marshall's ex-girlfriend from the Outside the Lines piece, Marshall clearly has a problem with violence against women.
Do you want to bring a guy like that on your team? Especially when the club has made an effort to attract more female fans through its Purple Club and Football 101 event.
Finally, there is this: the Baltimore Ravens as an organization have worked hard to overcome the perception, formed in the earlier part of this decade, that the team is full of thugs and miscreants. A stigma that came with Ray Lewis' murder charges in 2000 and Jamal Lewis' drug charges and subsequent stint in jail in 2004.
Since then, owner Steve Bisciotti and Newsome have done an outstanding job of remaking the team's image by acquiring high character players and avoiding knuckleheads who can't stay out of trouble. Marshall, while certainly the talented wide-out the club desperately needs, is not a poison pill the team needs to swallow now.