The New York Giants have made another free agency splash, signing veteran wide receiver Brandon Marshall to a 2-year, $12 million deal. The deal was first reported around 10:15 today by Newsday.
There’s a lot to digest with this deal, so let’s break it down.
Regardless of what you think of Marshall off the field, there’s no doubt that this addition greatly improves the Giants’ offense. Marshall is a 6-time Pro Bowler and 2-time All-Pro. He has caught over 100 passes an NFL-best six times in his career, has caught double-digit touchdowns four times, and is the big red zone weapon that Eli Manning has craved for years..
Since his days at Ole Miss, Manning has been known as a quarterback that tends to miss high when he overthrows his receivers. To remedy this, the Giants have tried to feature big wide receivers in their offense over the years, including Jeremy Shockey, Plaxico Burress, and Hakeem Nicks. Nowadays though, Manning’s receivers are mostly less than six feet tall, leading to more overthrows and ultimately more mistakes. The Giants have been searching for the next elite tall receiver, and they got one of the best in the business in Marshall.
Despite a dip in production this past season, Marshall remains a top receiver in the NFL. He caught 59 passes for 788 yards and 3 touchdowns last season, but is just two years removed from his finest season, in which he revived his career with 109 catches, 1,502 yards, and 14 touchdowns, all career-highs.
Marshall is the quintessential possession receiver. A 6’4”, 230-lb. beast, Marshall is a tough matchup for any corner. With the Jets, Marshall put up top numbers without a competent quarterback, running game, or offensive line. With the Giants, he’ll at least have one of those three things taken care of with Manning tossing him passes.
Another factor that absolutely influenced Marshall’s decision is the privilege of staying in the New York market. Marshall rediscovered himself while with the Jets, avoiding major controversy for the first time in his career and even snagging a spot on Showtime’s famous Inside the NFL show. It is unknown if the Giants will allow Marshall to continue his media career, but one would think that being able to stay less than 30 minutes away from the set was definitely a major draw for Marshall (and a negotiating point for the Giants).
Off the field, Marshall is a controversial figure. Back when he was younger, he had numerous run-ins with the law and was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. Marshall’s media career helped him overcome some of these hardships, but he remains an outspoken figure for sure. The Giants may not have needed another Type A personality in a room that includes Odell Beckham Jr. among others. There is a reason why Marshall has not stayed with a team longer four years or ever made the playoffs, after all.
Marshall’s contract is a 2-year, $12 million pact. At first glance, that seems to be a lot of money for a 32-year-old receiver with attitude problems coming off of a down year. However, consider that Victor Cruz would have made a similar amount this season. It will be tough for Giants fans to see the likable Cruz replaced by outsider Marshall, but on the field, Marshall’s production should far exceed whatever Cruz would provide. Signing Marshall does cut harshly into the Giants’ remaining cap space, so contract restructures for Jason Pierre-Paul, Dwayne Harris, J.T. Thomas III, or even Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie could be coming to ensure that the Giants can make the necessary improvements this offseason.
With a real quarterback throwing to him, an elite receiving corps. around him and a team hungry for playoff success by his side, Marshall is sure to be a great add to the Giants. The signing may have cost a bit too much money and the possible controversy that could arise from having too many divas on the team is worrisome, but if Marshall produces on the field like he’s capable of doing and can positively mentor the Giants’ young wideouts, he will be worth much more than what his contract is paying him.