Ravens' Decision on Marshall Will Solidify Stance on Receiver Corps

Geoff PeckhamContributor IJune 17, 2009

DENVER - DECEMBER 21:  Wide receiver Brandon Marshall #15 of the Denver Broncos makes a 24 yard reception before fumbling the ball to the Buffalo Bills in the third quarter during NFL action at Invesco Field at Mile High on December 21, 2008 in Denver, Colorado. The Bills defeated the Broncos 30-23.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

The annual speculation on whether the Ravens will acquire a wide receiver has been reinvigorated this week with the reports that Baltimore is interested in trading for disgruntled Broncos wideout Brandon Marshall. Whatever the Ravens decide to do, it will be telling of how confident the team truly is in the position.

Reports from ProFootballTalk.com and The Baltimore Sun indicate the team is doing its homework on the talented by often troubled playmaker, who has requested a trade from Denver. At this point in the offseason, the coaching staff and personnel department has gotten a much closer look at what their 2009 squad will look like. If they feel the need to upgrade the position, this may be the last significant chance they have to do so.

“We’re interested in anybody that can help our team,” head coach John Harbaugh said when asked about Marshall. But he was quick express the same confidence general manager Ozzie Newsome has indicated all throughout the offseason in Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton, Demetrius Williams, and Marcus Smith.

“We don’t consider it a weakness by any stretch,” Harbaugh spoke of the current crop of receivers. “We try to make every position as strong as we possibly can. We’re open to any player at any position, anywhere that can make our team better.”

With the development of quarterback Joe Flacco and the solidification of the offensive line with the drafting of Michael Oher, the Ravens believe their offense will get better as a whole. Williams and Smith are expected to improve, and some pundits believe Clayton can have a break-out year to compliment the ever-steady Mason.

But the 25-year-old Marshall is an elite talent. He has posted 1,000 yard seasons the past two years and went to the Pro Bowl for 2008. However, he has run into legal trouble on multiple occasions, and will go to court later this summer on domestic violence charges. He could be suspended for part of the 2009 season under the league’s conduct policy. If the team was interested in making a move for Marshall, his off-the-field woes would likely work against him.

“Their background matters,” Harbaugh asserted. “We want to bring guys in here that are what we consider Ravens. So, any player that we bring in here, we’ve got to be convinced that he’s a man of integrity, a high-character guy, and that our players can respect him in the locker room.”

Marshall is not the first playmaker to be linked to the Ravens. Arizona Cardinals star Anquan Boldin was rumored to be on the Ravens’ radar before the draft. Like Boldin, Marshall would likely demand a first and a third-round draft pick, and would also require a new contract. The Ravens have yet to sign franchised-player Terrell Suggs to a long-term contract, and a big-money deal for a wide receiver would likely impede that from happening.

The team’s vote of confidence in their current corps would be diminished if they traded for Marshall. They haven’t relented from the stance as of yet, but rumors continue to swirl, and the wide receiver position will remain a question mark for fans and media.