The Hawks certainly need a wide receiver, considering their crew there currently is comprised of T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Deon Butler, Deion Branch, and Ben Obomanu.
Marshall, who will be 26 on March 23, certainly has the talent—three straight seasons with over 100 catches. But he’s just as explosive off the field. He’s essentially a late-1990s Randy Moss—a mercurial player who can excel on the field but who often acts like an immature, trouble-making thug off it.
If the Seahawks are going to acquire Marshall, they have to do several things:
1) Coach Pete Carroll needs to be completely satisfied that Marshall is going to get his act together and grow up. That means Bates and Fisch, who both coached Marshall in Denver, need to sign off on the idea and take charge of his personal development.
2) General manager John Schneider must insist on good-behavior clauses being included in the contract, protecting the Seahawks in case Marshall continues to be a knucklehead and embarrasses the Seahawks the way he did the Broncos.
3) The Hawks absolutely cannot give up one of their first-round picks. The Broncos don’t want Marshall anymore, and there is almost no market for him at this point. The Hawks have the bargaining power. They had better realize it and not throw away very valuable draft real estate because the Broncos will definitely take less than a first-round pick for him.
The meeting Saturday is surely a feeling-out process for Carroll to get to know Marshall and for Marshall to get reacquainted with Bates, the new Seattle offensive coordinator, and Fisch, Seattle’s new quarterbacks coach. Both coached Marshall in Denver in 2007 and 2008.
If the Seahawks are willing to take the gamble—and a major gamble it would be—they would then need to talk to Denver about a trade. There is no way they are going to sign Marshall to an offer sheet that puts their No. 6 pick at risk.
This is how the Hawks should approach this deal:
1) Offer WR Deion Branch and center Chris Spencer for Marshall. Branch is expendable in Seattle, especially given his $5.47 million salary and the arrival of Marshall in this trade. Denver coach Josh McDaniels is familiar with Branch from their days together in New England, which means Branch knows Denver’s offense already. The Broncos also need a center, where Spencer might fit for them (he sure doesn’t with the Hawks).
2) If the Broncos don’t want to do a 2-for-1 player swap, then offer Seattle’s second-rounder for Marshall straight up.
3) If the Broncos don’t think that’s enough, throw in Branch with the second-rounder.
If the Broncos insist on talking first-rounders, the Hawks could humor them a bit with these kinds of offers (all in Seattle’s favor, of course):
1) The No. 6 pick for Marshall and Denver’s first-rounder at No. 11.
2) The No. 14 pick for Marshall, tight end Tony Scheffler, and Denver’s second-rounder.
3) The No. 6 pick and Branch for Marshall, No. 11, and Scheffler.
4) Or, to make it a real NBA-style wingding: The No. 6 pick, Branch, and Spencer for Marshall, Scheffler, No. 11, and Denver’s third-rounder.
Then comes the new contract, which figures to rival the five-year, $40 million deal the Hawks gave Houshmandzadeh last year. Seattle needs to protect all guaranteed money with behavior clauses that would require Marshall to pay it back if he gets into any more trouble.
The Hawks absolutely would have to be on top of this guy, and Houshmandzadeh might be the perfect role model for him. A veteran receiver and family man, Housh could provide the example that might channel Marshall’s talent and make him even better than he already is.
Of course, Bates and Jedd Fisch would seem to know how to handle him. They had better, because he is one misstep away from a potentially long suspension from the NFL.
He served a one-game sentence in 2008, cut down from three games after he underwent counseling and otherwise kept his nose clean in the wake of several domestic violence incidents dating back to 2006.
He also has a couple of DUI-related offenses on record, and he recently admitted in court that he is probably the reason teammate Darrent Williams was murdered on New Year’s Eve 2006. And you wonder why we think he’s a chump-ass chucklehead?
The bottom line: Marshall is an undeniable talent, but he needs major guidance to avoid being the kind of clubhouse cancer he became in Denver last season.
We’re on record as strongly not endorsing his acquisition , but if the Hawks think they can make it work, they need to do the three things we outlined above: believe Marshall will grow up in Seattle, put a behavior plan in place in case he doesn’t and do not give up a first-rounder unless the Hawks get a whole lot more in return.