June 15, 2009
At first glance, Brandon Marshall(notes) doesn't seem like a guy in a great position to stage a contract holdout. He's had offseason surgery on his hip and has had so many legal run-ins that he should be thankful the league hasn't suspended him and that he has a chance to play at all.
You wouldn't think Marshall was a guy with a lot of leverage. And he might not be, if he played for any team but the Denver Broncos.
They're in worse shape than Marshall. It's June, and they just named Kyle Orton(notes) their starting quarterback. No disrespect intended to Orton, but if he's going to be your quarterback, you'd at least hope that it was a last-minute decision made out of desperation two or three hours before kickoff of the first regular season game. When the calendar says June, and Kyle Orton is already far and away your best hope, that's not good.
It only gets worse for the Broncos if Marshall walks out the door. He met with Broncos owner Pat Bolen on Friday, missed all the weekend's mandatory workouts, and left with all his stuff packed in boxes. That doesn't sound like a guy who plans to be back anytime soon.
If you put Marshall's off-the-field stuff to the side for a moment, he can make a damn compelling case for a raise. He caught 102 balls in 2007 for over 1,300 yards, and he caught 104 balls last year for over 1,250 yards. He's scheduled to make just over $2 million this season.
By NFL standards, that is criminal underpayment. Wide receivers who made in the $2 million range last year include Dante Hall(notes), Dennis Northcutt(notes), Bobby Wade(notes), and Ronald Curry(notes) If someone hosted a Brandon Marshall telethon, I'd be tempted to call and donate.
I don't know what the Broncos intend to do, other than fine Marshall as much as they can for missing mandatory workouts. It's too early in the proceedings to talk about trading him, but you look at what Denver's already done in the offseason, and it doesn't seem out of the question. The organization seems hellbent on getting into a rebuilding mode.
My advice to the Broncos would be to pay the man, pay him quickly, and pay him well. He's as talented a receiver as exists in the NFL. He's young. He is the one proven offensive weapon on the roster. Kyle Orton needs him. Getting Marshall happy and onto the field might be the last chance the organization has to say to the other players, "Yes, we have some intention of winning in 2009."
If not, the message they send -- and have been sending all offseason long -- is, "Guys, thanks for being here. We hope to make the playoffs in, oh, I don't know ... 2011 or so. You'll probably be gone by then. Help yourself to a complimentary refrigerator magnet schedule."
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