Losing Marshall would reflect poorly on McDaniels

As the agents for Broncos WR Brandon Marshall confirmed their trade request on Tuesday, it appears as though the team’s prospects for a successful 2009 season are falling faster than shares of Enron stock.

When Josh McDaniels was hired as the Broncos head coach in February, he inherited the league’s second-ranked offense, which featured Pro Bowl QB Jay Cutler and Marshall, a Pro Bowl receiver. But now, with team morale hovering at an all-time low, the Broncos appear to be on the verge of losing another star on offense.

According to Marshall, he and team owner Pat Bowlen agreed that the trade request would be granted. The affects of trading Marshall could sink the McDaniels administration before it makes its maiden voyage.

After back-to-back seasons with over 100 receptions, Marshall has put himself in a class of wide receivers that includes the likes of Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald and the Houston’s Andre Johnson. His size and speed makes him a difficult matchup, and losing him — along with Cutler — would reflect poorly on McDaniels’ ability to manage players and cultivate talent.

Marshall, like Cutler, has proven himself in just three NFL seasons at the tender age of 25. Keeping both players should have been a priority. For Marshall, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract, he has to believe that his best leverage to negotiate a new deal is now. Coming off two successful seasons under Mike Shanahan, a coach who wanted him to have the ball, with a quarterback in Cutler who could get him the ball, Marshall may be inclined to believe that his numbers will not get any better with McDaniels and QB Kyle Orton in 2009.

On the other hand, Marshall has flirted with serious actions in the past which could violate the league’s conduct policy, including allegations of domestic violence. This could be a concern for Bowlen and the Broncos, and it could serve as a key factor in prohibiting the team from offering Marshall a lucrative contract with a huge signing bonus.

Even with concerns surrounding the lack of maturity that has led to many of Marshall’s off-the-field missteps, his on-the-field production will have several teams lining up to give him what wants. Once again, the Broncos are about to learn that other teams covet their players more than they do. Cutler’s current team, the Bears — along with the Jets and Ravens — could make a move to get Marshall.

It seems that the Broncos are paying a heavy price to learn valuable lessons while grooming their inexperienced first-time head coach.

— Solomon Wilcots

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