Ravens Should Pass On Marshall And Probably Will

June 17, 2009 | Thyrl Nelson

There are few things in life that I can be said with absolute certainty. One thing that has become nearly certain these days though, is that whenever a wide receiver’s name is floated out on the trade market, the Ravens will inevitably be looked at as a possible destination. And with good reason too. The Ravens were one game away from a trip to the Super Bowl in 2008, and now that they finally appear to have found their franchise quarterback in Joe Flacco, pairing him with the marquee wide receiver that has seemingly eluded this franchise since it’s inception would seem to be the logical next step in furthering their championship aspirations. Furthermore, credible reports regarding the Ravens’ at least inquiring into the availability of Anquan Boldin before the draft would seem to support the notion that they’re at least considering an upgrade at wide receiver.

So with Broncos’ disgruntled wideout Brandon Marshall reportedly asking for a trade officially this week, rumors and speculation regarding his possibly landing in Baltimore were bound to begin flying. And it certainly didn’t take long, as the message boards and shows are filled with fans making arguments either for or against bringing in Marshall.

I must admit, that based on talent alone, it would be a no-brainer. Marshall’s talent, particularly for the big play may be among the top 5 in all of football at his position. In comparison to the other names we’ve heard floated about, Marshall’s seems to be the most intriguing and realistic. Aside from Boldin, who by most accounts will be back with the Cardinals in 2009, the only other real marquee names out there were Braylon Edwards and Chad Ochocinco, who both play for divisional rivals, and Plaxico Burress who still may not be able to play in 2009. That leaves Boldin and Marshall as the only real possibilities.

Between the two, compelling arguments could be made for both on the field. Marshall has been over 100 receptions per season, for each of the last two, but has 13 touchdowns in that time, compared to Boldin’s 20. Both have played in offenses conducive to showcasing their skills and piling up numbers, and both have enjoyed the company of other quality offensive talent to attract attention and share the burden. All things considered though, I think that most would give the edge to Marshall strictly based on what he brings to the field.

In Baltimore though we like to talk about the “it factor”. For years I listened to callers to the station talk about how Kyle Boller, despite his physical gifts, just didn’t have that non-quantifiable “it”. But this is a different kind of “it”. Not “having it” is unfortunate and forgivable. Not “getting it”, is another matter entirely. And based on Brandon Marshall’s off the field body of work, it’s clear that he doesn’t get it. And at 25 years old, it looking less and less likely that he ever will.

One look at Marshall’s Wikipedia page pretty much tells you all that you need to know about the kid, or at least Ozzie Newsome’s potential interest in him. He’s the guy that did immeasurable damage to his arm by putting it through a television after either slipping on a McDonald’s bag, or fighting with a family member, depending on which account you believe, last off season. He still may be suffering the after effects of that, although his play last season wouldn’t indicate it. This year he’s coming back from hip surgery.

His run ins with the law have been repeated and consistent, and somehow he usually seems to get away with little more than a slap on the wrist. Yet some may wonder why he continues to get into trouble. And despite the amount of trouble that he’s had off the field, and his uncertain health status, Marshall has demanded a trade and a raise, in no uncertain terms. A trade from the team that drafted him and provided him the platform to potential greatness, and more importantly a trade from a team that could have easily been in the playoffs if he had simply made one more play in the final 4 weeks of the season.

The national media is the national media. They have their short lists of teams who may need a QB or a RB or a WR, and will inevitably bring up these names when players become available at those positions. And fans are fans; how could they not be excited about the possibility of adding a talent like Brandon Marshall? But the Ravens are the Ravens, and I feel pretty safe in saying that Ozzie’s interest in Brandon Marshall is nothing more than a rumor, and not even a well thought out rumor at that.

There’s been a long standing perception that the Ravens’ locker room is strong enough to absorb difficult personalities, and keep them in line. In the Harbaugh era, that no longer seems to be the case. And in Marshall’s case, the locker room seems to be the least of his problems anyway. The problem with Marshall is that you can’t be sure what he’ll do once he’s outside of the locker room in public, or even at home.

There’s nothing in the history of the Baltimore Ravens, or the history of Brandon Marshall to indicate that they’d be a good match. Nothing that is, except for the glaring need that the Ravens have for a big time wide receiver, and the obvious talent that Marshall possesses. Ultimately, I doubt that will be enough.

You can’t say anything for certain. But I’m as certain as I can be that Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens will take a pass on Marshall, and they probably should.