With Thursday's deadline for signing free agents, the saga involving Denver's star receiver Brandon Marshall is headed for a conclusion. ESPN is reporting that Seattle and Washington are the two teams most likely to make a final offer for Marshall, but that New England, Cincinnati, the Jets, Miami, Dallas, and St. Louis have also shown interest. New England seems as though it would be a perfect fit for the troubled wide out.
If he were to go to the Patriots, Marshall would immediately help bolster the suddenly depleted wide receiving corps. Randy Moss' contract is up after this season, and Marshall would be a great replacement for the aging superstar. Even without Wes Welker on the field, if the Patriots signed Marshall, defenses would seemingly be forced to single cover Moss, who is still one of the league's top deep threats.
Marshall has been given a first round tender by the Broncos, and New England possesses the 22nd pick in the first round of this year's draft. If the Patriots traded this pick away for Marshall, they would still hold eleven picks in the draft, with three in the second round.
Trading away the pick would not be unlike the organization, either. New England's draft strategy in recent seasons has been trading out of the first round to acquire more mid to late round picks and develop talent at a lower risk and cost.
If the Patriots were to keep the pick at 22, many draft analysts believe that they will take a hard look at Georgia Tech wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. Thomas is a very talented prospect with tremendous upside, but comes from Paul Johnson's triple option offense, meaning that he spent more time blocking for running backs than he did catching the ball.
If New England were to pick Thomas, he would clearly need time to learn route-running skills and adjust to a pro offense, whereas Marshall is a proven producer at the position.
Those who say that Marshall is a locker room cancer and would disrupt the Patriots' clubhouse need to look no further than Randy Moss. When he was brought to New England from the Raiders, Moss had the same label as Marshall does now. Since he joined the Pats, Moss has been a great teammate and strong leader.
This is not to say that Marshall would adjust as well as Moss, but having veteran leadership in the locker room, a future hall of fame quarterback to get him the ball, and a no-nonsense coach at the helm would all seem to help Marshall blend in with the organization.
The draft strategy and team's immediate and probable future needs for a wide receiver, combined with Denver's apparent willingness to trade Marshall make this an ideal move for New England.