Ravens on Brandon Marshall: “No, thanks”

June 17, 2009 | Drew Forrester

Another disgruntled wide receiver is on the market which can only mean one thing.

It’s debate time.  

Should the Ravens pursue the talented but oft-arrested Brandon Marshall?  In his last three seasons in Denver, Marshall has accumulated 15 TD’s — but he has more appearances in handcuffs (4) than playoff games (0) during his time in the Mile High City.  

Let the arguments commence, both pro and con (no pun intended). 

For the record, the Ravens are apparently NOT interested in Brandon Marshall.  A team executive told me on Tuesday night “we’re comfortable with what we have…”  And although the team won’t officially address the situation with Marshall because he’s under contract to Denver, the executive was emphatic with me about the team’s passing game.  “We’re not looking to add anyone.  We’ve heard the names being circulated.  It’s not going to happen in Baltimore.”  “It”, I assume, is Brandon Marshall.

I’m not surprised at all that the team isn’t interested in bringing Marshall and his van full of personal luggage to Baltimore.  John Harbaugh’s credo – “background matters” – is one of the mechanisms he used throughout last season to weed out a handful of the team’s malcontents.  You don’t dismiss a problem and then bring a problem in just to fill that hole. 

There’s clearly a segment of the fan base clinging to the belief that the Ravens are one star wide receiver away from being a Super Bowl team.  The trio of Mason-Clayton and Williams isn’t good enough according to many, although those people must be forgetting that the same tri0 a year ago actually performed for most of the season as a duo when Williams went out with an injury — and the combination of Mason and Clayton played in the AFC Championship Game in Pittsburgh.  

Don’t forget this, either:  the team with the best wide receiver duo in football (Arizona) lost the Super Bowl last February.  

As for Marshall, people in Baltimore quickly make the mistake of assuming that anyone who plays for another team in the league and has even representative statistics is the next coming of Jerry Rice.  We think that here because it’s been the better part of a decade now since we had a legitimate, game-breaking type of wide receiver in purple.  Come to think of it, the Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2000 with a varying quality of wide receivers, didn’t they?

Anyway, don’t confuse Brandon Marshall with Jerry Rice.  You can, if you want.  But, you’ll be setting yourself up for disappointment if you do.

He’s a good wide receiver.  He has 15 TD’s in the last three years.  A year ago, on a Denver team that completely collapsed down the stretch to gag away an all-but-sewed-up playoff spot, Marshall had 6 TD catches.

Trivia time:  What do Laveranues Coles, Roddy White, Dwayne Bowe, Bernard Berrian, Vincent Jackson, Issac Bruce and Antonio Bryant all have in common?  Answer:  Each of those players had more TD catches (7) than Brandon Marshall last season. 

No disrespect to Brandon Marshall’s 15 TD career, but I doubt very seriously that Canton, Ohio is booking hotel rooms for 2021 when he might be eligible for induction in the Hall of Fame.  

The question, obviously, isn’t whether or not the fans want him in Baltimore.  Naturally, many of them do…but it’s only because we’re so immersed in the world of fantasy football these days we forget that the players with the stats are also players with a beating heart who can, and sometimes do, negatively impact a team with their attitude or behavior.

Marshall, it’s fair to say, fits into that category.

The question is, could he come to Baltimore and walk the straight and narrow?  The guess by most people at Owings Mills:  “No, he can’t.”

He’s been an arrest waiting to happen in Denver.  The kid’s story is a crazy one.  He socked a female companion on more than one occasion.  No, wait a minute, he didn’t.  Yes, he did.  Oh, he’s being blackmailed by her?  A million bucks?  Wait, did he take a swing at her or not?  Yes.  Maybe.  Depends on who you ask and what your definition of “swing” is, I guess.  

Like I said Tuesday morning on The Comcast Morning Show, it’s one thing if your star wide receiver (*cough*, Santonio Holmes, *cough*) gets busted for having some weed in his ash tray. We wouldn’t want to know how many players in the NFL smoke grass.  It’s part of the culture of the league, in my opinion.  Smoking pot is one thing.  Slugging a female and getting arrested – and getting arrested – and getting arrested – and getting arrested – is a completely different set of circumstances. Domestic Violence = character flaw.  Period.

As for the Ravens, they’re making the right move by not entering the Marshall Sweepstakes.

For one, the asking price, rumored to be a 1st and 3rd round draft pick, is far, far too steep for any player in the league not named Tom Brady or Peyton Manning in their prime.  With the emergence of Fitzgerald and Boldin in Arizona, the all-world game-winning catch by Santonio Holmes in the ’08 Super Bowl, and the post-season output from Plaxico Burress in ’07, people now think “it’s a wide receiver’s league”.  Wrong.  The guy throwing the ball to the pass catchers is still the most important player on the field.  Last time I checked, the two teams with the best regular season marks in the NFL last year were ranked 18th (NY Giants) and 27th (Tennessee) in passing offense.  Three of the top five in passing offense in ’08 didn’t make the playoffs.  

Yes, you need to be able to throw the ball in the NFL.

Yes, you need people to catch the ball in order to do that.

But the league is NOT fantasy football.  

It’s not about statistics.  It’s not about “points” and yards.

It’s about fitting in with your team’s offensive scheme, playing to the system, understanding your role, staying healthy (which includes NOT being suspended by the league and missing games) and being a good soul in the locker room.

In other words, that’s how Derrick Mason has become such a valuable member of the Ravens over the last three seasons. Speaking of Mason, he has 12 TD’s in the last three seasons, compared to Marshall’s 15.  And he had Kyle Boller and Steve McNair throwing to him.  

Marshall just has too much baggage for the Ravens. 

They’re trying to stay away from hassles, headaches and bad eggs. 

I agree with that thought process. 

The Ravens need another Derrick Mason or two.

They don’t need a headache.

Brandon Marshall, I’m afraid, would have us all rubbing our temples.