B-MarshGate?: Discerning the Truth Through the Speculation

PunkusAnalyst IJune 18, 2009

The Denver Broncos page here at Bleacher Report has been inundated as of late with a myriad of articles about Brandon Marshall.  As news gets slow in the off-season this story has made many writers experience a rubbernecking effect. 


It seems that no one can help themselves. Writers here at B/R just can’t look away and as a result editorials have run amok.


Many of these articles were written by hateful rivals who couldn’t pass up the chance to relish in the misfortune of the team they disdain. For them this was a welcome distraction from the issues of their own teams and a chance for some retribution for past attacks.


For others it was an exercise of arrogance.  It helped their self-esteem to write an article that would receive a lot of traffic. 


Unfortunately, all the reads in the world couldn’t change the fact that they spoke from a place of ignorance about the team, player and situation in question. These “writers” have speculated wildly and have muddied an already complicated situation. 


So let me simplify it for everyone by simply stating the facts:  


Brandon Marshall was drafted in the fourth round (119th overall) of the 2006 NFL draft. Brandon has had a productive NFL Career.


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(Due to this production many consider Marshall to be one of the top ten wide receivers in the NFL.)


Brandon Marshall has only ever had Jay Cutler throwing him the ball in the NFL. Jay Cutler made more pass attempts to Brandon Marshall than any other receiver on his team during his time in Denver.


Brandon Marshall is in the final year of a four-year rookie contract where he is scheduled to make $2.198 million this season. Many NFL players renegotiate and seek contract extensions in the final year of their contracts.


Based on an NFL salary database compiled by USA Today last season; 58 receivers made more than $2.2 million last season. Brandon Marshall walked into Dove Valley headquarters the afternoon of Friday June 13th  for a private meeting with team owner Pat Bowlen.


Marshall walked out a little more than an hour later carrying packed boxes to his car before driving away from the players' parking lot. Marshall has complained about the Broncos’ medical staff, accusing them of not discovering the full extent of his hip problem last year.


Brandon Marshall has not yet participated in any off-season activities with the Denver Broncos in 2009. Marshall  has been arrested three times in the span of 12 months, twice for domestic disputes.

Marshall was suspended for three games at the start of the 2008 season.  The suspension was knocked down to one game after a Marshall appeal.

A Broncos player has not held out from training camp since receiver Ashley Lelie in 2006. Lelie eventually was traded to San Francisco, a move that helped clear playing time for a rookie named Brandon Marshall


Jay Cutler demanded to be traded this off-season, and was later traded to the Chicago Bears.


Brandon Marshall released the following statement on his personal website:


“To whom it may concern. Life is filled with change, and where I am in my life now change is probably best. It’s hard leaving an organization ran by one of the best owners in all of sports, and someone who’s been there for me through my ups and downs. The hardest thing was hearing Mr. B wish me luck in the future, but we both came to the conclusion that this is probably the best thing for me to grow on and off the field.”


When questioned about Marshall’s situation in light of the above statement Josh McDaniels responded "We look forward to having Brandon at training camp."


These are the Facts of the Situation, and as such they are undisputed.


In the end this whole situation is about Money and Trust.


Should Marshall get paid?  Yes.


Despite Marshall’s legal issues, immaturity, injury and possible suspension he is still one of the best receivers in the game (In my personal opinion) and he warrants a contract that reflects his ability. 


Do the Denver Broncos have a right to protect their own interests? Yes.


Along with elite talent, Marshall brings with him a hailstorm of concerns that could be a major liability to the franchise.  For all the benefits the Broncos would garner from Marshall’s services they also get a player with a lot of question marks. 


He could be suspended for half a season, he might not be able to return to form after injury, or he may struggle to adapt to McDaniels’ new offensive system.


Marshall has also taken issue with the Broncos medical staff, who were either incompetent or were not completely honest with him about his injury.  Can this trust be mended with Marshall?  I don’t know.


Marshall has requested to be traded.  This could be merely a tactic in contract negotiations or it could be a legitimate desire to no longer play in Denver.


If this relationship can be mended with money, I believe that the Broncos should pay the man.  I understand that it is a gamble, you are taking the risk that in paying him he may under perform or get himself into further trouble that prevents him from playing, but in my estimation it is worth it to role the dice with Marshall. 


The Broncos can help protect themselves from Brandon’s troubles by structuring the contract with clauses that penalize Marshall for his misdeeds off the field while satiating his desire for a larger paycheck.  


If Marshall really wants out of Denver though, the Broncos need to get as much as they can for him.   If a player doesn’t want to be with your team you have three options:  you can keep him and make him play, make him sit, or let him go. 


If you keep him he can be a distraction and a cancer a la T.O.  If he plays he is playing for himself and not the team a la T.O.


If he sits, the organization is wasting their money on a player that adds no value to the team. If you let him go you may not get equal value for the player in return, but you allow your team to move on. 


Cincinnatiis not all the better for keeping Ochocinco instead of cutting him loose.  He has underperformed and his value has degraded over the past few years. 


The Eagles were better with T.O. than without him, yet everyone in Philly will tell you that letting him go was the right thing to do.


There is a way to manage this situation where all parties come to the table and leave satisfied.  As long as the communication lines stay open, Denver can keep Marshall while still protecting themselves and ensuring the balance of power stays with the franchise. 


Personally, I don’t buy the desire to be traded.  It is just a dance, a posturing for position in the game of contract negotiation.  Marshall is trying to gain the upper hand by saying he wants out, when he really just wants to get paid. 


The Broncos are not succumbing to the fear of loss Marshall is trying to create.  Denver knows they hold all the cards and they are going to play it cool. 


The story is not over yet and I’m sure the speculation will not end here.


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