For many, keeping Brandon Marshall beyond 2009 is simply not an option. It seems as though the receiever has burned every bridge he possibly could in Denver, and many think the Broncos should get optimum value for him this offseason, including myself.
I have said on numerous occasions that Denver should explore any and every Brandon Marshall trade scenario, and if you have read my mock drafts, you know that first hand. I think Marshall is worth at the very least a first and third round pick, and I stand firm in my belief that the Broncos would accept nothing less than that in return for him this offseason, or they will try and keep him themselves.
With Marshall's impending contract situation, and the fact that even our own owner has stated Marshall is due a large pay raise, what if we are the team who throws this dog a bone? What if the Broncos decide to make Marshall one of the top five highest paid wide receivers in the game?
And what if they add on a little bit of help, just to complete the 180 degree turn?
Ever since head coach Josh McDaniels benched Marshall in week 17, I have had an inkling that he would be traded, along with 2006 draftee Tony Scheffler. In Marshall, the Broncos have one of the most physically gifted receivers in the NFL, and on the surface, it would seem foolish to let him go. But, any true Bronco fan will tell you that along with Marshall, you must take some sort of pain medication, because he comes hand-in-hand with a ripe headache.
The Broncos are currently poised to offer Marshall a one year restricted free agent tender of $2.562 million, making his return value a first and third round draft pick, or the highest a restricted free agent can be tendered.
For those who would like further confirmation of the status of restricted free agents, here is a chart with more details:
|1st and 3rd round pick
|1st round pick
|2nd round pick
|Determined by player's original draft status
Thanks to this chart, we can see why it is going to be very difficult for any team to make any significant free agent acquisitions this offseason. Off topic, one acquisition that makes a lot of sense is Shawne Merriman to the 49ers for a first round pick, seeing as they have two and a desperate need for an outside pass rush. Something to keep an eye on, anyway.
In the case of Marshall, I truly believe the Broncos want to have him back, but they are no longer willing to put up with his shennanigans. His actions in week 16/17 obviously set McDaniels off, and he was reprimanded for it.
As a head coach, I feel that McDaniels needs to be willing to deal with problematic personalities like Marshall, but as the suspensions he's faced this season have indicated, I do not think it is out of line for him to be reprimanded for acting like a child.
It seems as though Marshall wants out of Denver, and McDaniels has made it very clear that if you don't want to be here, then the Broncos are going to show you the door without fail. An interesting development came in Marshall's interview after the season with D-Mac and Oren on "The Fan" where Marshall indicated he loved having McDaniels as a coach, and that he loved Denver and the fans.
So why not bring the dude back?
In all likelihood, Marshall will be looking for a similar re-negotiation to his contract as Larry Fitzgerald got from Arizona and Roddy White from Atlanta, somewhere in the neighborhood of $8-10 million per season. Considering a first round draft pick will likely cost a similar amount, if not more, why shouldn't the Broncos at least pursue re-signing Marshall to a big contract?
Five years, $45 million seems like a piece of cake for Marshall, but the only thing will be his guaranteed money. Marshall is a DUI away from missing eight games, or even a full season in the NFL, which could lower other teams' attraction. The Broncos would have to fill Marshall's contract with incentives, and based on his behavior, he could earn more guaranteed money than the Broncos should be willing to give him up front.
There is no questioning this guy's production. Roughly 310 receptions over the last three seasons is staggering, no matter who you ask. Marshall is a go-to guy, and he had his best season ever with Kyle Orton as his quarterback, which is really saying something.
So, let's say the Broncos do get a deal done with Marshall. Now what? I still don't think their receiving core is settled. Marshall making roughly $9 million per season is not something I'm afraid of, and the Broncos just got a lot of financial relief from the Mike Shanahan hiring over in Washington. That hire by the Redskins saves the Broncos roughly $3.5 million in each of the next two seasons.
The fact that Denver should be looking to add another playmaker at wide receiver this offseason indicates to me that they could look to a veteran. One player I have explored is former Charger, Chief, and Dolphin Chris Chambers, who I have always really liked (I know, sickening...). I think Chambers is one of the toughest players in the NFL, and he has more than earned an NFL starting job after his admirable work in Kansas City.
Another option that would certainly make waves is if the Broncos explored trading for Anquan Boldin, especially if they had already re-signed Brandon Marshall.
But it's not out of the question.
Boldin has had a very injury-riddled career, and is looking for a fresh start with a new team. Arizona has a surplus of talent at the wide receiver position, and will almost certainly be looking to trade Boldin this offseason. Could the Broncos be a suitor? I say, "Why not?!"
Boldin's contract entitles him to roughly $3 million in 2010 before he becomes a free agent in 2011. With his injury history and the fact that he is turning 30, would the Broncos be able to get Boldin for just a second round pick? The likely answer to that question, not just for the Broncos but for all teams, is yes.
I have repeatedly suggested that the Broncos go for one, if not two receivers this offseason, so why not go after Marshall and Boldin? If the Broncos got Boldin for a second round pick, they would have one of the most impressive groups of receivers in the NFL.
The only thing that would hold this back is Boldin's desire for a restructured contract, and with Eddie Royal likely looking for an extension in the near future, as well as Champ Bailey and a number of other free agents for the Broncos this year, Boldin may be a bit high priced.
One way this could all work is if no one offered Brandon Marshall a long-term deal, and he was forced to accept Denver's RFA tender of roughly $2.5 million. If the Broncos could get both Marshall and Boldin for a combined $5.5 million, they would be foolish not to pursue it, right? Even if Marshall and Boldin only cost Denver $12 million combined for 2010, I believe whole-heartedly that it would be a great investment.
Denver needs another playmaker at wide receiver on the outside so Eddie Royal can focus on the slot position, and Boldin provides that. Having Boldin, Marshall, and Royal on the field at the same time would be a huge fit for opposing defenses, and Denver's passing game would be nearly unstoppable.
If Denver dealt a second round pick for Boldin, they could feel free to move down in the first round of the draft to acquire an extra third, maybe second round pick depending on who they trade with. They could still address the interior of their offensive line by trading down with, let's say the Patriots in round one for an extra second round pick (New England has three).
One other trade the Broncos could pursue would be to swap first round picks with the Cardinals, and include their third round pick to acquire Boldin. It's no secret the Cardinals could be looking to draft a quarterback early on in this year's draft, and Sam Bradford or Jimmy Clausen, maybe both will be available when the Broncos select in the first round.
Time will tell, and the Broncos have endless options here. Maybe they decide to move Marshall and start from ground zero, or maybe they will bring him back and add another big name receiver to help him and Kyle Orton out.