Well, if the Santonio Holmes(notes) trade was the Jets' version of the first shot fired across the bow, the Miami Dolphins have responded with a nuclear strike. Early Wednesday morning, it was announced by several different NFL insiders that the Denver Broncos had traded disgruntled receiver Brandon Marshall(notes) to the Dolphins for a second-round picks in 2010 and 2011. Marshall, unhappy with his contract, finally signed his first-round restricted free agent tender Tuesday, which made the trade possible.
Marshall and the Dolphins reached agreement Wednesday on a four-year, $47.5 million contract extension that includes $24 million in guaranteed money, according to ESPN. That would make him the highest-paid receiver in NFL history.
The Dolphins have (had?) the 43rd overall pick this year. The Seattle Seahawks, who had been most interested in Marshall and had hosted the receiver on a recent visit, traded their 40th overall position in the second round for Chargers third-stringer Charlie Whitehurst(notes) in March, and thus may have been aced out of the deal with the acquisition of a guy who has never thrown a regular-season NFL pass. Hope that works out for you, Seahawks!
Marshall has far more experience. In each of the last three seasons, he's caught at least 100 passes for at least 1,100 yards. Against the Colts on Dec. 13, he caught an NFL-record 21 passes for 200 yards and 2 touchdowns in a game the Broncos lost by 12 points. He is an undeniable talent who is also an undeniable pain in the butt. He's got a fairly long list of legal issues, and he's warred openly with Denver head coach Josh McDaniels, which is an absolute way to get traded out of Denver in a hurry. But what he could bring to the Dolphins, who have rebuilt their team absent a real elite receiver, makes the deal worthy and very intriguing.
Now, Marshall will have to earn his big contract on the field under the eye of one Bill Parcells. If he can do that, the AFC East just became an even more interesting place — the division of Randy Moss(notes), Santonio Holmes and Marshall himself.