Saturday, 6 March 2010

My thoughts on the impending Brandon Marshall saga

By Kip Earlywine
Today the Seahawks met with Brandon Marshall. As shown below, it is now reported that they are not seriously considering the offer sheet (which would cost us the #6 overall pick), but rather, they are taking the first step in a long trade process with the Denver Broncos. Since the Seahawks have the option of signing Marshall at any time (potentially with a poison pill) and acquire him for the cost of the #6 pick, this establishes Marshall's maximum value. Marshall's off the field issues will scare many teams away, and it is yet unclear how many teams view Marshall as a 1st round value, much less such a high pick. This is why I anticipate the Marshall trade taking some time to develop- because his value to NFL teams is not yet established. He's going to have to make more visits to take the temperature on his worth.

It might seem strange that a player considered by many to be one of the best wide receivers in the NFL wouldn't have 1st round value to many teams. Well, there's a good reason for it. If you haven't seen it yet, please watch this. If you can sit through it all, its pretty eye-opening.

Marshall's issues arose suddenly and out of nowhere, with his first incident occurring in early 2006. As it happens- that is exactly around the time he was preparing for the NFL draft, which must have been a very stressful time. Some fans may not realize this, but when you play in the NFL- you are owned by your team in a very literal sense. At times of the year you have to follow strict curfews, you have to constantly manage your diet and workout regiment, you have to show up for constant team meetings and practices. And since many NFL coaches are notoriously tough on their players, this can create an incredibly stressful environment. Ever had a nasty boss? Well imagine if that boss had control over your life when you were off work. This makes the NFL a highly stressful profession for many players, and sadly, the resulting domestic violence is not uncommon in the NFL. (Marshall also incurred additional stress from a contract dispute and was angry at Broncos medical staff for misdiagnosing a hip injury he had surgery on.)

However, this does not excuse domestic violence, and in most cases, the attacker will quickly realize what he's done, apologize to everyone, get help, and clean up his life, rarely if ever repeating his mistake. Its not every day you see a "serial" domestic abuser in the NFL, and if you watched that entire video, its clear that Marshall fits that definition.

Rob kind of beat me to this in the comments below, but there are two types of authority figures. Disciplinarians and mentors (father figures- sometimes called "a player's coach," although some mentor types are also disciplinarians, like Mike Holmgren). Some people need discipline in their lives and benefit from having a tough enforcer around. Others are too rebellious, and are much more in tune with the more subtle mentor type.

I won't speculate about how Marshall was raised, but his behavior to me indicates that he is in need of a mentor in his life, someone who can give Marshall corrective advice while still being on "his side." McDaniels is unambiguously a disciplinarian alpha dog type coach, which seems to have created a ton of friction with Marshall. I can't say what type of coach Shanahan was, but he did seem to run a very tight ship in his time in Denver.

Pete Carroll is the ultimate coach at coexistence- a guy who always stays positive on the football field and who reached out to young men in the gang infested slums of Los Angeles. If anyone can help Marshall improve as a human being and conquer his impulsiveness and anger management problems, I think Carroll could.

I've had two people in my life that suffered from severe anger control problems. Through a gradual process of what might best be called "positive peer pressure," I was able to help both of them overcome their problems. They are both completely different people today than they once were. I can testify first hand that anger problems can be fixed if handled the right way.

I think in a less toxic environment, with friends (such as Bates and perhaps Housh) around him instead of antagonists, and with the right leadership, Marshall could be cured of his ills, or at least see a difference in his life. Having the contract stress out of the way could make a big difference too. Whether or not the Seahawks should actually obtain Marshall, there is no question in my mind that Seattle is the best place to go from Marshall's point of view, everything else being equal. And sometimes just a change of scenery can be huge. Randy Moss had a ton of issues including legal ones, but after going to New England, he finally matured and kept himself out of trouble.

Whether or not you think Marshall will mature and heal here in Seattle is up to you to decide. No matter how soft the landing, there is always the chance that he just never gets better, and given his frequent run-ins with the law, he has to be considered a significant risk unless he changes his ways. This has to come into consideration when judging a players worth, just like say, injury risk would. Many teams will look at Marshall and not expect him to get better. It should be very interesting to see how his value is gauged in the next few days/weeks.

So what about Marshall on the field? Marshall has totaled an impressive 3710 yards the last 3 seasons, two of those with our current offensive coordinator. He totaled 102, 104, and 101 catches each season, even holding steady when he lost Jay Cutler. Nicknamed "the beast," Marshall is generally considered the best "physical" type WR in the NFL. This post is getting long, so rather than giving a mini-scouting report, here are some highlights:

As far as what he is worth to the Seahawks, I'd like the team to play their cards right and pay the minimum price they can by waiting for him to establish what should be a significantly lower value to other NFL teams. If things go well, its possible that they may be able to keep two first rounders. If I had to give a value from Seattle's point of view, I'd say he's worth the #14 pick straight up, if they had to pay that much. Here is why I think that:

First, this isn't a great WR class, and the best option, Bryant, is only a borderline #1 type prospect (think Anquan Boldin), and Bryant is kind of a fuzzy fit for Bates anyway (not a true "big" WR, best attribute is over the shoulder deep throws- which Hasselbeck and potentially Clausen would struggle to accommodate).

Secondly, Marshall is only 25, meaning he'd be good for likely the entire contract (long term), and he's proven. If he stays out of legal trouble, he'll be more likely to come through than a draft pick.

Third, he is a perfect fit for Bates' scheme, and for as long as we have Hasselbeck, he's a good match there as well. Hasselbeck tends to click with big targets.

I'd almost be willing to give up the #6, but I hesitate to do that simply because of Marshall's off the field risk and the potential opportunity cost of missing out on a franchise QB like Jimmy Clausen or perhaps Sam Bradford. To me, the #14 is just fine. But it would be amazing if it could happen for less. And it might, if Marshall's value is established to be 2nd round or late 1st round.

Edit: Sando lays out a good argument that it could be indeed for less than a 1st.


CLanterman said...

I'd be willing to give up the #14th pick, but considering what Boldin went for, I'd feel cheated if we had to pay more than a 2nd round pick.

micah said...

Good thoughts Kip. I agree, I'd give up a #14 pick for a proven commodity that's in the heart of his prime. But i agree with Clanterman that the Boldin trade kind of set up a standard. I really hope that we can trade players like Deion Branch or Chris Spencer who have fallen a little out of favor here and just swap the #6 and #11 picks.

Kip Earlywine said...

Marshall is a better receiver than Boldin- but Boldin was in demand. Marshall seemingly is not. So that's a good point. Should be interesting how this plays out and what both teams decide is fair value.

Ben said...

Like I mentioned in the last post, I don't think that we'll have to give up the 14th (without getting something back). The Bronco's maximum starting asking price was a 1st (and it could have been the 32nd pick, if the rule of 8 allowed it). The price will only go down from there, especially since the Seahawks seem to be the only other team expressing interest.

The Patriots are known to prize 2nds (even more than 1sts) and McD is nothing if not a protege of Belicheck. I'm thinking that the Broncos will be happy to accept the #40 and some change (a low pick or Branch with a renegotiated contract).

No matter which pick we use to get Marshall, I think he'll be a risk, but he's a risk I'm willing to take. Ruskell paid a premium for high-character guys as one of many means of reducing the risk of a bust. Other teams (like the Bengals, Cowboys and Patriots) have been able to acquire high-upside assets cheaply because their value was depreciated due to character concerns. If (and it is a big if) we are able to keep Marshall on the level, we'd end up getting a great deal.

Anonymous said...

Good write Kip! Let's look at some contract info and figure what Brandon Marshall is worth. First, before I continue I just want to say that I believe Brandon Marshall is the best WR in the NFL today. On that note let's take a look at contracts. Larry Fitzgerald is to most fans the best WR in the NFL. He signed a 4yr 40 mil. contract. Seattle signed TJ Housh. to a 5yr 40 mil. contract. Now, as you all know the top 10 draft picks are worth Bank(Mega Bucks). Last season, Aaron Curry at the #4 spot commanded a 6yr 60 mil. contract. Now, it doesn't take rocket science to figure out where I'm going with this. Andre Johnson being one who you can label as the best WR in the NFL signed a 6yr 60 mil. contract. Johnson has had 3 100+ reception seasons. Fitzgerald has only had 2. As you all know Brandon has 3 in a row. Andre is 28 and turn 29 soon. Fitz is 26 going on 27 and Brandon is 25 going on 26. Brandon is just getting into his prime. We could sign this guy to a 6yr 70+ mil. because he is definitely worth it! So, if that isn't about close to our #6 then I don't know what is. Now, don't get me wrong! If we get him for less, then we have a steal my friends. But, I hope you come to realize that this guy is worth it, BIG TIME, baggage and all!

Anonymous said...

I also wanted to give you guys a 4 yr resume on my top 3 WR's in the NFL since Brandon has only been in the NFL 4 years.

1. Larry Fitzgerald 330 receptions, 4,544 yds, 34 TD's

2. Brandon Marshall 327 receptions, 4019 yds, 25 TD's

3. Andre Johnson 311 receptions, 3053 yds, 17 TD's

Brandon is worth the money!

chris said...

John Clayton says a 2 and a future 3 or 4 round pick should end up getting it done

Kip Earlywine said...

I think if the Seahawks play their cards right, they can pull this off while still keeping both first rounders. I think Clayton's estimate sounds about right- but it could take some time before Denver comes to accept that value level.

Anonymous said...

Oh one more thing! The Bengals signed OT Andre Smith, their #6, to a 6yr 42 mil. contract last season. This season the money grows substantially! Brandon Marshall commands way more then that! I say the #6 is plenty fair. Also, do we really want to fork out a huge contract to Marshall and then have to fork out another huge contract to a #6. I didn't think so.

Kip Earlywine said...

Ben- good point about the Patriots and prizing 2nd rounders.

Paul- As long as the deal is incentive based (to keep Marshall motivated), I'd be completely fine with giving him a 6/70 contract. That's probably what he'll end up signing for- if anything maybe just a tiny bit less.

ChavaC said...

chris, that's exactly what I'm hoping it winds down to. I know we have the two firsts, but going into the draft with #6,#14, and a 5th and 6th isn't very appeasing. I'm guessing Pete will want to grab some young rookies that fit his master plan this draft, and that's going to be tough with only four picks. If we can put off that second 3rd/4th pick to next year I think it's in our best interest.

And does Marshall really warrant that much more than Boldin? Numbers wise Boldin has been just as productive when healthy. He's a little older, but you don't have to worry about him getting suspended and you know exactly what you're getting with him.

Anonymous said...

I hope Marshal and his ex stay apart as they both have issues. She admits to grabbing a knife and trying to blackmail him for a half million dollars it sounds like. Domestic Violence goes both ways folks but I am not saying marshall is not at fault as it is probably 50-50.

David said...

I think he may have made some bad decisions and may have been bad to this woman, but she's a mess also. This whole thing is a joke. She regularly has a buddy, knife, antagonst, 'freak-out', etc.

About picking him up, not worth a 1st and 3rd.

Anonymous said...

I would trade the 6th pick for Jared Gaither he was tendered by the ravens the price is first rounder he is 24 years old and maybe one of the 5 or 6 best left tackles in the NFL. If what clayton is saying is correct than we still would have the 14th pick this year after all this. Young franchise left tackle locked up top 4 WR in his prime locked up and the 14th pick in this years draft. Maybe trade Branch and Wallace for a couple of 5th rounders, and maybe sign Kampman.

Anonymous said...

Jared Gaither just got tendered from the Ravens. This guy is one of the top tackles in the NFL at age 24 i would look into trading the 6th pick for this guy. He is better than any tackle in this draft and you probably would save money 6th pick money is quite a bit.

Nick said...

I have a theory about why the Seattle head office is moving very slowly and not signing many players. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but they are doing it for a reason. If we started going out and filling all of our needs, teams would start to see who we were going for in the draft. Get O-line help a running back, and pass rusher, and teams are gonna know we are after the QB's. Our greatest weapon in the draft right now is secrecy. Teams could be desperate to trade up because they have no idea what we want and with so many needs it is impossible to judge. We need these picks which is why Seattle will try to work out a trade for Marshall.

Rob Staton said...

It's interesting to see Marshall's stats compared to Fitzgerald and Johnson. There was no drop off when Kyle Orton took over from jay cutler. That's elite production.

Rich said...

I had just told myself I'm not going to comment because my opinion would be so contrarian that no one would agree and there's Paul saying exactly what I'm thinking. I actually value the 14th pick more than the 6th pick in this draft. The rookie wages scale is so ridiculous you have to ask yourself what unproven prospect is really worth a top ten contract? Suh and Mccoy come to mind. After that, nothing but a lot of question marks. I hate to bring up a sore point but is anyone glad the Hawks paid Curry that contract? In an uncapped year maybe we should just trade Curry for Marshall. Lol.

Anyway, maybe I'm crazy but if it takes the sixth pick to bring Marshall into town I would do it. If the hawks can fleece Denver of other players or picks in the process then I'll be very excited.

Grant said...

My question is how much the Broncos REALLY want Marshall still. If they're trying to clean house then maybe we can get it down to the #14 or less. I really have no idea. Are the Broncos trying to keep him?

michael said...

Rob do you think the seahawks are going to get arron kampman because there rumors about that?

CLanterman said...

Kampman signed with the Jaguars.

Louis said...

People keep comparing the Brandon Marshall issue with the Boldin trade to say that "oh we should only give up our 2nd round pick", but 2 things differ:

1. Marshall is a lot better.
2. Marshall is 25. Not 30.

If the Broncos settle for our 40th + something else, that would be a dream, but I wouldnt mind us trading the 14th overall pick either.

If you think about it...wouldnt you trade the 14th overall pick for an Andre Johnson? They are pretty much the same. Sure Marshall has some off the field issues but I still think that Pete Carrol will be able to fix him. Like Kip said, Carrol is the king at that.

Louis said...

You could even compare Marshall to Fitzgerald if you wanted to.

Sure, Fitz had some better numbers, but he had Kurt Warner throwing to him, compared to Cutler/Orton. Imagine what godly numbers Marshall would have posted had he had a All-Star QB throwing his way

c-hawker said...

I wonder if Denver would be satisfied with trading our #6 for their #11. and a player,possibly Branch?
That would put us out of the running for Clausen though. Maybe not, if they don't pick him.
I'm fearful Marshal will spend a lot of his career in street clothes on Sunday's. Then it wouldn't matter what you gave up for him, it would be too much.
As far as a QB goes, I don't think we need to pick one this year. Next year is a better class.

Kip Earlywine said...

I guess if I had one reservation about Marshall is that I'm not totally sure he'd continue to get 100 catches a year, even with Bates here. Housh is going to want catches too, don't forget that he was a catch machine in Cincy.

Marshall is a total stud though. I'd probably put him #4 in the league after Fitz, Megatron (Calvin Johnson), and Andre Johnson. And he's not terribly far behind those 3 guys either.

Anonymous said...

I think that our ultimate trade would be 6 and branch for 11 and Marshal. Because the money/value is better at 11. Sure we could not probably get our QB of Bradford or Clausen, But we could end up picking up a DT and LT with first round. I think DT is more important than DE because we have some very promising players at DE. If we are rebuilding we need to start with the positions that are to old and those that do not have great promise. Tapp and Jackson are worth it if they are aloud to play for longer periods.
If they have something solid in the middle of the D-line, Mebane is good but we need another. Don't discount youngsters that have promise, instead replace nothing and old people without talent.

Kip Earlywine said...

Regarding Gaither- he's a stud, but he's not even close to a Gibbs type. Smart man scheme teams should absolutely to talking to Baltimore about him though.

Regarding Marshall's ex- there's zero evidence she had issues before Marshall did. Its very possible she was only reacting naturally to the toxic environment Marshall brought to their household. I thinks its very telling that Marshall started beating on his 2nd girlfriend only shortly after they started dating. Marshall has issues. There is no doubt about that. I hope he gets help. Going to Seattle could be a part of that.

Regarding Branch, he may fit Denver's scheme- but they already have Eddie Royal in the Branch type role, and its not like Branch has a much value either. I don't think Branch will be traded at all, but if he is, it might possibly be to New England as they need WR help and Tom Brady is campaigning hard on Branch's behalf. That and New England has a thing for buying low on WR.

Anonymous said...

Trading 6 for 11 and Marshal is also very positive because it is like trading back in the draft and picking up Marshal with the 2nd that we would have obtained. Therefor picking up four players in the draft.

Someone also mentioned picking up gaither from Baltimore. I also like this idea, but if we do not have our #6 Pick we could start setting up a trade of either #11 or hopefully #14 for him instead of using an offer sheet. Imagine picking up Gaither OT, Marshal WR and still having #11 or 14 and #40. With this kind of infused talent we could compete next year. If we were to pick up a DT or if we are lucky QB at #11 or 14, and a Safety at #40. We would not have much left as far as great need except QB or DT and a RB. We could pick up Bell during Free Agency, or pick up a good RB in round 4 or trade up into round three and pick one up there. Or pick up a safety later and a RB in round two. With this draft we have a ton of options at just about every position but QB.

If we have just about everything in place before next year, we could have just about everything lined up except our Franchise QB, unless Carrol likes what he sees in Teel.

ChavaC said...

Anquan Boldin is 29, Brandon Marshall is 26 in two weeks. Boldin has five 1000 yard seasons despite sharing receptions with Larry Fitzgerald. Furthermore, he isn't an inherent risk to be suspended for half a season at any point in the year (or be stabbed by his wife, shot by himself, etc etc). You can argue Carroll would give him hugs and kisses and turn him into a choir boy, but this isn't a 19 year old kid out of high school. He's 26. Would it really surprise anyone if we got him and wound up in the same situation as Denver next year if we go 4-12? I say 2nd round pick and change. If Denver won't go for anything less than a high first, let them deal with his problems and come up empty next year.

Anonymous said...

how long do tenders last? If Clausen comes off the board, can we then trade marshall for #6?

Brendan said...

Brandon Marshall is a flat out game changer.

Great piece about Pete Carrol and the fit that he may have on Marshall - I think that is a very good point and sometimes overlooked. One downfall is that it will be tough to have Marshall and Hoosh on the field at the same time if the offense sputters. But that is a risk definitely worth taking. Marshall will make Carlson and Hoosh better along with Butler coming along another year.

We get Marshall and maybe Kampman and it is game on for the hawks! (I think that a pick up like this increases the likelihood that we get Clausen (assuming Carrol is high on him))

We will still need a couple other things but the division is starting to twist with Zona getting hurt by FA and the Hawks coming up... maybe.


Anonymous said...

I really think Marshall will be in a hawks uniform next year call me crazy but for the first time in years im actually excited about what the team is doing in the offseason. I would like us to get the best LT we can and trade our other first rounder for a a second and a possible first next year so we can bid in the JAKE sweepstakes next year.

Anonymous said...

Kip, I don't even want to comment on the video, but I have to say what a one-sided load of crap that was. That was a poor hatchet job which left me feeling very little remorse for a young woman who was clearly at least half the problem, admittedly violent herself with parents in total denial about their daughters own issues. And they blame the Bronco's? Please! I've known 3 women who were in abusive relationships, my wife (her 1st marriage), my sister and my daughter, and all 3 were half the problem and they all know it and (now) admit it. In every case, alcohol was a major contributing factor. If Marshall is still communicating with the same girlfriend from the video, I'd not even consider him. If he's moved on and learned from his experience, and his contract is laden with clauses concerning alcohol use and his off-field behavior, I'd consider him. His interviews with the team and interviews with others who know him best would be key. I strongly disagree with anyone who summarily dismisses him because of the past issues with one woman. It's not as bad a driving drunk, where someone can be killed, and we have numerous guys on the team now, beloved players like Tatupu, who are guilty of that.

Having said all that, IF he can convince the team that is all in his past, his on-field talent is worthy of a 1st round pick, just not #6 overall. Denver's options, like Cincy, will only land them mid 1st round picks at best. If they throw back their 3rd rounder (#80) I'd consider doing the deal. 1st, the #6 pick will cost a lot (like Marshall) and I doubt we could afford both long-term. 2nd, we need picks and I don't want to give them up. A third rounder could be used to fill another hole, like RB. It would be nice to trade Branch in the deal and further reduce the burden on the draft but he's also expensive and we don't even know if the Bronco's want him. I don't want to give up #14 because I want Charles Brown and I believe that's where we'd have to take him. #40 would be a great spot for DB or D-line. In summary, I'd prefer Marshall, Brown, Chad Jones and Hardesty to Berry, Brown and Mathews, which represent in my mind the best we could hope for with our current picks.

Kip Earlywine said...

Well, I agree that often abusive relationships are a two way street. However, I think its telling though that Marshall had shown violent behavior both before and after his episodes with his 1st girlfriend. He was arrested for assaulting a cop in 2004, and he was cited for hitting his next girlfriend after he finally broke up with his 1st.

As far as Marshall's value, that will take some time to develop. Just my opinion, but risks and all, I think Marshall has roughly a late 1st round value. If the Bengals sign the tender, they'd be paying close to fair price. The #14 is overpaying based on his market value. But then again, if Marshall continues to produce and stays on the field, the #14 pick will look like a huge bargain.

ivotuk said...

Very thoughtful and well written Kip. I've had issues in my own past and I have a friends who have struggled with DV.

DV stems from anger and anger is not a true emotion but a product of fear or hurt. People get angry when they are scared of something or when their feelings get hurt and if they already have a short fuse they tend to lash out in order to end the hurt.

Sadly in some situations one side or the other will take advantage of someone who has issues with anger and use it to manipulate them. That is where it becomes very tricky when trying to assess domestic violence in a home.

Is someone afraid of getting hurt so they lash out first?

So when I look at Brandon Marshall's situation I have to wonder if his relationship with his previous girlfriend was unhealthy to begin with or did it develop over time as the stress of success built?

I agree that wherever Marshall goes he will need a strong figure in his life. One incident involved his father asking for money and then telling the police that Brandon had fired a gun. That kind of father/son relationship is a nightmare and it would take a strong, successful person of authority to be able to have any kind of positive influence in Brandon's life. I also agree that if the Seahawks do sign him that Pete Carroll is that kind of guy.

I can only imagine how overwhelming it must be to come from a relatively unknown college and end up being a superstar in the NFL. I really think that Goodell would be wise to set up some kind of requirements for all rookies such as money management classes and lessons on how to adjust to a life where everyone wants a piece of you.