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Brandon Marshall pledges to 'earn every penny' of his $32 million contract

The inside linebacker who logged 100+ tackles the past two seasons is thrilled to be staying with the NFL team that first believed in him.

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

If Von Miller is cropping John Elway out of a photo, Brandon Marshall is likely putting the Broncos' GM front and center now that the once-practice squad linebacker just inked a four-year, $32 million contract extension with the Denver Broncos.

And Elway is likely ecstatic to know No. 54 will be in Broncos photos for a while.

"We're thrilled he's going to be around here for another five years," Elway said Tuesday. "He plays with the enthusiasm and the hard work that we like to see in guys on that side. That's why he's had so much success in what we're doing on the defensive side."

Noting that he got Marshall after being waived from the Jaguars' practice squad in 2013, Elway added that the inside linebacker is "just scratching the surface" with his talent.

"He just worked his tail off," Elway said, pointing out that Marshall has played more snaps than any defensive player in the last two years. "Of course, you know the kind of defense that we have. He's been a big part of that, obviously."

This past year Marshall registered 101 total tackles, 76 of them solo, along with 1.5 sacks, one interception and two forced fumbles in the regular season. In the playoffs, No. 54 was responsible for nine tackles, one forced fumble and two passes knocked away.

Marshall can play the run exceptionally well, blitz and cover - which is exactly what you want from a modern-day linebacker. And at his age, is only getting better.   -Pro Football Focus

The "real Brandon Marshall" was also just named as one of Pro Football Focus' Top 101 players in the NFL right now, regardless of position. At No. 85, PFF said Marshall "has developed into one of the league's best inside linebackers, and in this past season, was a major force on the league's best defense. Marshall can play the run exceptionally well, blitz, and cover, which is exactly what you want from a modern-day linebacker, and at his age, is only getting better."

"Only getting better" is not only music to the Broncos' ears but likely Marshall's as well.

Drafted in the fifth round by Jacksonville in 2012 -€” only to get cut and re-signed to the Jags' practice squad three times during his rookie year -€” Marshall has always known he had the stuff for the NFL. He just needed a team who also knew it.

After being told by a Jacksonville coach that he wasn't good enough for the NFL, Marshall considered walking away from football.

"I was really hurting because I knew what type of player I was and they didn't see it or they didn't like how I played," Marshall said, recalling a drive he took on I-95 South to think about quitting. "As I'm taking this drive, I'm just thinking and feeling bad for myself and feeling sorry for myself. But then I turned around and I said, ‘You know what? I'm just going to keep working.' That's what I told myself. I'm going to keep working."

Marshall added that while in Jacksonville he felt like he changed his game to fit what the team wanted, and he decided on that drive to play on his terms.

"I said I'm just going to stick to my guns. If I've got to go down in my rookie year, I'm just going to go down fighting and how I play," Marshall said. "I made up my mind that I was going to keep fighting."

Deep down Marshall knew the kind of player he could be.

For the Broncos to see me as an integral part of this team and of the defense, that's huge. It means a lot to me that they believe in me. - Brandon Marshall

Thankfully, so did John Elway -€” three years ago when he plucked BMarsh away from Jacksonville and yesterday when he signed him to a contract extension that pays him in the top-tier of linebackers.

"For them to see me as an integral part of this team and of the defense, that's huge. It speaks volumes," Marshall said. "It means a lot to me that they believe in me because there are so many people that didn't."

It was a whirlwind week for Marshall -€” beginning with a Super Bowl champs' trip to the White House and ending with a new contract. In fact, there were so many major events, he almost forgot one of them was getting his Super Bowl ring.

"White House, I got my own day in Las Vegas, then I had my first camp and I spoke at my high school's graduation. Now this. It couldn't have gone better," he said, before a reporter reminded him of the ring ceremony he forgot to mention. "Hopefully it's not the last one I get."

Despite the big week, Marshall will not forget where he came from to get here, and he will always use it to motivate other players in a similar situation.

"Taking nothing away from those first-round picks and those guys, I think my story has more substance to it," Marshall said, noting that undrafted players can hopefully look at his story and be inspired. "I tell them all the time, ‘Look, if I can do it, then you can do it.' That's just the honest truth."

And Marshall has every intention of continuing to do it for one of the greatest defenses in NFL history.

"I will earn every penny."