By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — New York Jets wideout Brandon Marshall has long been one of the NFL’s most dynamic receiving threats, but he’s also bounced around the league, wearing four uniforms in his 11 years in the league. There’s a good chance the Jets cut him before the 2017 season and save his entire $7.5 million cap hit with no dead money, making him an unrestricted free agent.
Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News posed an interesting question to Marshall for a column he posted late on Wednesday night: would Marshall be interested in joining the New England Patriots?
Amazingly, Marshall has never made the playoffs in any of his 10 full seasons in the NFL and will miss it again once the Jets bow out in 2016. He called playing for a team that has a chance to win the Super Bowl a “top priority,” which would make the Patriots an obvious destination for the veteran receiver.
Just one problem: he doesn’t want to be a hired gun, like Darrelle Revis was in 2014.
“That’s intriguing, but that wouldn’t be my team,” Marshall said when asked about potentially joining the Patriots as a free agent in the offseason. “I would be a rental player.”
Marshall is probably right: if he were to sign with the Patriots, it would likely be on a one-year deal with a decent-sized cap hit. Marshall, who turns 33 next March, apparently wants a multi-year deal. But that’s where the dilemma comes in for him: what Super Bowl-contending team would be in the business of signing a 33-year-old player to a long-term contract?
Marshall acknowledged the tough choice he may have between signing with a contender as a one-year mercenary or joining a lesser team for the financial security of a long-term deal.
“One, I love it here [with the Jets],” said Marshall. “And two, I don’t want to be a rental player for anyone. So, I don’t want to jump ship and take the easy route and go somewhere where I’m just a rental cop for a year or two and I’m not a core guy. I want to do it being a big part of the puzzle.”
On the field, Marshall would certainly make sense as a big-bodied, sure-handed outside receiving threat. The Patriots are left without Rob Gronkowski for yet another postseason and may have to look elsewhere for more durable options in their big play threats and red zone targets. Marshall’s durability – he’s never missed more than three games in a single season – has made him a consistently attractive piece for NFL rosters.
Besides the roadblock that a short-term contract would create, the Patriots also appear to be set at wide receiver with Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell, and Danny Amendola all signed for 2017. There’s also Marshall’s reputation as a disruptive locker room presence, which hasn’t always deterred the Patriots from signing players of that ilk but could have given the team pause in previous opportunities to sign him.
Although this is all pure speculation and it sounds as if Marshall will ultimately choose a team that would give him a long-term deal – which the Patriots certainly would not – it’s an intriguing idea to add a receiver as strong, athletic, and consistent (on the field) as Marshall. And perhaps he’s grown past the prior issues in his career and would buy in to the Patriots system for one year, which would give Tom Brady a significant receiving threat – and one that would be likely to stay healthy into the playoffs.
How would you feel about the Patriots signing Brandon Marshall? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.