The Giants kicked off free agency with a bang with the signing of recently-released Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall. Marshall is coming off arguably the worst year of his career since he became a full-time starter in 2007 with the Broncos. A major reason for that was due to the putrid quarterback play the Jets received from essentially anyone who lined up under center for them this year. (Remind me again how second round rookie Christian Hackenberg couldn’t get any burn?). The year prior, Marshall turned in one of the best seasons in his career with 109 receptions, 1502 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns on the year.
The cons to the Giants signing Marshall are obvious. Is a guy who’s been the No. 1 target almost his entire career going to accept playing second fiddle to Odell Beckham Jr? Will he effect the locker room positively? In theory, a veteran isn’t a bad thing for a team with a ton of young guys. But is Marshall that veteran? He’s had battles with teammates in the past, most recently Darrelle Revis and Sheldon Richardson and further back with Jay Cutler. To Marshall’s defense, however, those guys aren’t known to be the highest caliber guys either, perhaps he was showing more leadership than it seemed on the surface battling malcontents.
Marshall has said and done all the right things since signing. He accepted a two year $11 million deal to stay in the New York area, turning down far more lucrative offers elsewhere. A gesture like that shows great commitment to what’s really important to him at this stage of his career. He has also gone on the record to say he won’t complain about being targeted. He seems like a guy seeing the bigger picture.
The on-the-field fit could not be more perfect. New York has lacked a true big target for years. Last year’s main targets were all around six feet tall with the exception of 6’3″ Will Tye and he’s not really a guy who even plays to that size as it is. Larry Donnell is 6’6″ but was phased out by midseason since he can’t be trusted to hold onto the football and finds it necessary to try and leap over the moon every time he runs with the football. Marshall is a nice fit in the West Coast offense and since the Giants base offense is a three-receiver set he’ll fit right in opposite Beckham with impressive rookie Sterling Shephard manning the slot. Marshall is also a plus run blocker as a wide receiver, his downfield blocking will surely help the Giants running game as well.
The Giants are coming off a strong 2016 campaign that saw their first playoff appearance since winning Super Bowl XLVI. Their 2016 free agent class formed one of the best defenses in the NFL. The offense, on the other hand, struggled. Marshall’s acquisition is a step in the right direction. If they’re able to shore up the offensive line in front of Eli Manning and add a few more pieces in the draft the Giants could head into 2017 as one of the favorites to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.