Brandon Marshall’s surreal journey across the NFL cosmos must end in the only place that can guarantee what he deserves: He should be a New England Patriot in 2017.
Marshall’s 166-game resume has one glaring omission: He’s never made the playoffs.
The veteran wide receiver has the longest postseason drought of any active player, a stunning reality for one of this era’s biggest game-changers. Marshall is second in receiving yards and receptions and third in touchdown catches since entering the league in 2006. He is a matchup nightmare, a difference maker and a rare talent that hasn’t made it past 16 games in a calendar year.
Marshall, who will turn 33 this offseason, is scheduled to make $7.5 million in the final year of his contract in 2017. The re-building Jets, looking to cultivate a collection of young pass catchers, could save all of that money by releasing Marshall after the season.
If that happens, he should join forces with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.
“That’s intriguing, but that wouldn’t be my team,” Marshall told the Daily News in a candid discussion about his future. “I would be a rental player.”
Brandon Marshall says he’s reluctant to join a playoff-worthy team next year if it means he’d be a marginal member of the franchise.
Not all rental players are created equal. Besides, it’s not personal, it’s business. No outfit exemplifies the NFL’s bottom-line nature better than the Patriots. Ask Darrelle Revis, whose mutually beneficial relationship with the Foxborough folks made everyone happy. Now, Revis is a champion. Forever.
Marshall deserves to be a champion, too. At the very least, he deserves to participate in the postseason. The Patriots, who have made the playoffs in 14 of the last 16 seasons, can all but guarantee that for Marshall. That dream simply won’t happen with the Jets.
“It’s top priority, I would say, over anything,” Marshall said about making the playoffs. “But there’s two things that make it really difficult. One, I love it here. 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.”
Although Marshall doesn’t subscribe to the notion that the Jets are in re-building mode — (“When do teams get time to rebuild? You need players to change things around”) — the team would have dealt Marshall before the trade deadline if they got good enough draft-pick compensation in return. They didn’t, so they kept him.
“I haven’t made the playoffs, but I’m not panicking,” said Marshall, who is Top 25 all-time in receptions (939), receiving yards (12,033) and receiving touchdowns (82). “Because I know it’s going to happen. It’s not just about making the playoffs. I want to win the Super Bowl. But I want to win the Super Bowl the right way. I don’t want to be a rental player. I want to win a Super Bowl with my people, with my guys.”
Marshall had a franchise record-setting season (109 catches, 1,502 yards, 14 TDs) in 2015. His production has significantly dipped this year (57 catches, 760 yards, three TDs) for myriad reasons, but he’s not planning on retiring anytime soon.
“The way my body is built, the way my game is built, it’s never been based on speed,” Marshall said. “It’s always been based on power and being able to understand how to run routes and get into certain positions. So even when I do lose a step, I think I’ll still be able to catch a bunch of balls in the right situation. … I’m expecting to play into my late 30s.”
There’s another part of the equation that can’t be ignored. Marshall, who should be in the Hall of Fame conversation when his career is over, is on his fourth team. He’s been a football nomad looking for a place to call home. He’s hoping the Jets are that place.
“Everybody wants to be attached and affiliated with something,” Marshall said. “If I retire today, who would I retire as? A Bronco? That’s so long ago. A Dolphin? A Chicago Bear? A Jet? … I am fortunate to play this long. It gives me the opportunity to right my wrongs. I want to do it the right way. I want to win. I want it all. I’m being really greedy. I don’t want to be a rental player. I want to be able to leave a legacy in an organization where I can potentially go down as one of the all-time greats as a Jet.”
Marshall’s personal and professional growth have been commendable. He’s been a leader and mentor in two seasons with the Jets.
“You got to understand what’s important to me is having an opportunity to go into the Jets Ring of Honor,” Marshall said. “And it’s going to take me playing here for a while. If I go to another place, they may have me for a year, maybe two, but….”
He can make a difference no matter where he goes. He can become the same positive force in New England as he has been here. He’s still good enough where he just won’t be along for the ride, either.
He wants to stay with the Jets, but the best move for both sides might be to part ways after the season.
“If they cut me,” Marshall said, “I’ll have to pick up the pieces and move on.”
Imagine what he could do with Brady and Belichick on his side.
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News