Brandon Marshall: The Denver Broncos' Burden Will Remain

Robert StoneContributor IJanuary 30, 2010

ENGLEWOOD, CO - JULY 29:  Wide reciever Brandon Marshall #15 of the Denver Broncos watches the action from the sideline during training camp at the Broncos training facility July 29, 2008 in Englewood, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Wake up Bronco fans—Brandon Marshall is going nowhere! 

The blogosphere is full of potential trade partners and propositions for Brandon Marshall with teams paying mini-bar prices with multiple high draft picks and/or players.  These proposals might be fun, they might be harmless, but they are delusions.  The only way Marshall changes teams this year is if the Broncos cut him (unlikely) or let him go for very little in return.

Marshall's penchant for throwing his toys when he doesn't get his way and speed-bag relationships with women means he is worth less than Braylon Edwards (third and fifth-round pick) cost the J-E-T-S and the Broncos will never let him go for that.

This is a not Jay Cutler redux where a player with great (perceived) potential, at the most important position on the team, is traded to a team desperate to improve at the position.  This is a player who has already reached his peak, is only going to have his production drop and injuries increase as he gets older, and has attitude and behavior issues that poison the locker room and undermine coaches.

Would the Broncos like to move him?  Yes—no question they would like to, but at what price? 

The key to the conversation is Marshall's value and the price a team will pay for him.  The Broncos will own his rights for 2010 for a relatively nominal $2.562M salary and any team that offers him more will surrender a first and third-round draft pick if the Broncos choose not to match.  If the Broncos match, they will need to be sure they can get more than a first and third-round draft pick in a trade or resign themselves to dealing with their drama queen for another season.  Any team that tenders Marshall a contract will need to make sure his new salary is enough to keep him happy, or they will face the same problems the Broncos had in 2009.

Why Teams Will Want Brandon Marshall

  • 100+ catch potential
  • Good possession receiver and physical enough to get off the line of scrimmage and into his routes
  • Good hands and catches the ball well in traffic
  • Very productive when motivated


Why Teams Won't Want Brandon Marshall

  • Has to be targeted disproportionately to be productive—he needed the highest percentage of targets to receptions (per game) in the NFL the last two seasons to get his 100+ catches.
  • Lacks speed to be a true deep threat
  • Disappears in the red zone
  • Prone to turnovers after the catch due to physical style
  • Injuries are mounting as he ages
  • Needs external motivation to produce, and without it is a negative influence on the team—withers without the spotlight

On top of all of this, there is the financial reality that teams are not going to give up their top draft picks and/or players and pay a big salary for someone who is a wife-slap away from being out of the league for part or all of future seasons. 

Any salary would be reclaimable but the signing bonuses won't be, and Marshall will need a big part of his contract guaranteed to be happy.  If he's not happy, he will become a cancer and teams that sign him will have to deal with that for as long as he plays.  Most coaches in the NFL don't like checking their players' mood rings every time they ask them to contribute to a game plan, and Marshall has proven himself as the Midol poster child for the NFL.

The Broncos will tender him at the highest level to protect their interest, and they will entertain any and all offers throughout the offseason to see what they can get for their problem child.  It is unlikely that any team will pony up with enough to pry him away, but the Broncos can try and find a sucker for the next six months.  McDaniels will surely demand full value for him, and there are too many holes on the team to undersell assets no matter how much he may want to.

Success in the NFL is based on teams playing well as teams, and none of the last four teams in this year's playoffs have anyone on their rosters with Marshall's baggage, with the possible exception of the Braylon "Stone Hands" Edwards—and even he knows he's overpaid.  The Saints and Colts are completely devoid of divas, and even the best WR on the Colts, Reggie Wayne, is OK to let the spotlight fall on Garcon and Collie for the good of the team.  I doubt Marshall would even be welcome on either team, and that says a lot.

The Kool-Aid is tempting, but Marshall is going nowhere and will need to play at least one or two more years with the Broncos to get paid.  The Broncos are stuck with him, but as a top possession receiver on a team that wants to play a passing version of a ball control offense, that isn't such a bad thing.