It seems as though the Brandon Marshall saga in Denver is going to come to a close, and while fans may not like it at first, it truly is for the best.
Marshall has proven over the last four years that he is a top five wide receiver in this league on the field, but he is also one of the biggest team distractions in recent history.
For that fact alone, Marshall may have decreased his own value, not on the trade market, but in terms of getting a new contract from a team. Still, Marshall's talent, size, and game-changing ability have to be attractive to teams who my only be a wide receiver away from "Super" status.
Let's get something straight here about Marshall's current situation. The former UCF star was drafted in the fourth round by the Broncos in 2006, and like 211 other players, Marshall is set to become a restricted free agent this offseason. It's likely that the Broncos will tender Marshall the highest possible amount, which is roughly $2.6 million.
Based on that tender, any team that decides to pursue Marshall on the open market has to be willing to give up a first and third round draft pick as compensation.
It's not an option.
Due to this fact, the bidding for Brandon Marshall will begin with first and third round picks. There is also a chance teams will be looking to work out a sign-and-trade with the Broncos, assuming Denver will not be looking for the bare minimum in return for Brandon Marshall's services.
In my humble opinion, having watched Marshall for the last four seasons on and off the field, and taking into account his financial situation, the value for Marshall right now has to be one of the following:
- 1st, 3rd, and 4th round picks
- Three 2nd round picks
- Starting caliber player and 1st round pick
- Pro Bowl caliber player (no older than 26)
If a team is unwilling to pay one of those particular prices, then they will be without Marshall for 2010, and maybe beyond. The Broncos have all the leverage here. Marshall may be a headcase at times, but his value is great to the Broncos. He is their top offensive playmaker.
Similar to the Jay Cutler situation in 2009, Denver will likely receive optimum return for Marshall following the best season of his career. But who will be willing to deal for him?
My guess is, there isn't a team in the league that wouldn't like to have Marshall on the field, including the Broncos. But the NFL stands for Not For Long, and Marshall's time in Denver has been just that.
Given the fact that the 2010 NFL Draft is one of the deepest in recent memory, I personally believe the Broncos will look for at least two picks in the first three rounds as well as a solid veteran player in return for Marshall.
If you don't agree with me, that's fine. But last year when I suggested that Jay Cutler was worth two 1st round picks, a 3rd round pick, and a solid veteran, I was basically laughed at. And that's exactly what the Broncos got.
I may not be exactly right on this, but Denver should accept no less than what I've just described in return for Marshall, and elite player at his position. Here are some potential trades that could formulate in the coming offseason, and at the very least, these are some of the teams that could be interested.
(In no particular order)
1. Marshall to Baltimore for 1st, 3rd, and G Marshall Yanda
This would probably be an ideal trade for both teams. Marshall and the Broncos part ways, while the Ravens get an elite level wide receiver for young quarterback Joe Flacco. The Ravens seem like a solid candidate for the Broncos to trade with, and the Broncos would receive the 25th and 88th picks in the draft as well as a starting caliber offensive guard to improve their interior line.
2. Marshall to Miami for 1st, 4th, and WR Ted Ginn
Due to Miami's pick being higher, they likely will probably not want to give up a first and third, but they would probably be willing to part with Ted Ginn, a player I'm not sold on at this point in his career. I think he could be a nice return option for the Broncos, who need someone to fill that spot.
3. Marshall to New England for two 2nd's, WR Randy Moss
This trade might seem a little steep for the Pats, but they clearly need an upgrade over Moss, and they have three second round picks. Given that New England isn't really losing much in terms of talent here, especially given the unproven second round draft choices (they also had three last year), this is a trade they would strongly consider making.
4. Marshall to Washington for 1st, 4th, WR Devin Thomas
In this scenario, the Broncos wind up with a nice young receiver in addition to a high draft pick, and Marshall reunites with former coach Mike Shanahan. Marshall knows the offense, and Shanahan would probably love to have him back. On a separate note, I think the Redskins will also try and deal for Peyton Hillis, provided Denver doesn't just outright cut him.
5. Marshall to Seattle for 1st, 3rd, WR Deion Branch
Broncos take on a hefty contract in Branch here, and I doubt the Seahawks will want to give up either of their first round picks, but this is a possibility, as crazy as it sounds. Branch knows the New England offense, and Marshall would make a crazy good tandem with T.J. Houshmandzadeh.
6. Marshall to Cincinnati for 1st, 5th, LB Rey Maualuga
I thought when Denver traded back into the second round last year that Maualuga was they player they were targeting, and in hindsight they maybe should have. Maualuga was recently injured, but he still appears to be a fine player. Cincinnati probably won't want to deal their promising youngster, but they might have to if they want Marshall.
These are just a few options for the Broncos. To some, the return value might seem a little much, but when you think about the kind of player Marshall is it's really simple.
So there you have it, Broncos fans. Prepare for life after Marshall. Put his jersey in the back of your closets with the Cutler jerseys, and ready yourselves for the inaccurate accusing of coach McDaniels for "running" Marshall out of town, when anybody who knows anything will tell you that the only person running "The Beast" out of Denver is himself.
Let the bidding begin at a first and third round pick for Brandon Marshall, NFL.