By Rob Staton
It's been quite an eventful weekend with Brandon Marshall making a flying visit to Seattle and igniting an endless discussion as to whether he'll be making a permanent move in the future. He's back in Denver at the moment, with all parties perhaps enjoying a moment of reflection. Clearly the Seahawks have no intentions of giving up the 6th overall pick. If they had, they could've signed Marshall to an offer sheet already. That would've given the Broncos a chance to match the offer or collect Seattle's first round selection.
Meanwhile, the Broncos say they're not willing to negotiate. A predictable response in that Denver were never likely to cough up one of the league's best receivers for a bargain price. It does create something of a stalemate though, with the Seahawks potentially looking to work on a deal and the Broncos biding their time.
We should discover in the next few days what other interest is out there. From afar, it doesn't look there's much of a market. Cincinnati have been touted as a potential suitor, but they've been loathe to give up first round picks under current ownership and appear to be focusing on Terrell Owens and Antonio Bryant. Other teams like the Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets have made moves to acquire other big name wide outs (Anquan Boldin, Braylon Edwards) whilst a lot of other teams might be put off by Marshall's off-field troubles.
I don't expect the situation to change any time soon, which will test Denver's willingness to go into the 2010 season with a ticking time-bomb on their roster. Seattle probably has talked contract with Marshall and he'll be well aware that a deal to potentially make him the highest paid wide out in the NFL is on the table. Collecting the $2m salary he's owed by staying in Denver would be a comparable pittance. As we get closer to the draft, the Broncos might be more willing to do a deal. As things stand, there's no rush on their behalf to solve this problem but there might be in a few weeks.
So what does Seattle's interest in Marshall show with regard to future team building and the draft? For starters it shows that the Seahawks have very much moved away from Tim Ruskell's 'clean-cut' image for prospects. Although character plays a part in every franchise, the new regime appear more flexible in that sense. The Carlos Dunlap's of the 2010 class would not fit into Ruskell's roster. That probably isn't the case now, although that doesn't necessarily mean they'll purposely go in that direction.
It also shows that the Seahawks view getting a top receiver as a priority. It may just be coincidence that the team saw Nate Burleson depart and then acted to bring Brandon Marshall in for a visit. It's unclear how much the Seahawks actually wanted to keep Burleson anyway. It could just be that Marshall is a huge talent and that alone warrants interest.
However, I also believe that wide receivers get a bad deal. You often hear people talk about lineman as a priority, building in the trenches - the usual cliche's. Top class wide outs and running backs are almost seen as a luxury these days and not a necessity. I firmly believe that the receiver position is no less important than the other so-called premium areas of a roster. A top wide out demands respect, can force a team to totally change it's coverage patterns and open up other receivers. You know teams will have great difficulty matching up both Marshall and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Throw in a solid pass catching tight end in John Carlson and you have half an offense. Those kinds of weapons stop a team blitzing too much and takes pressure away from the offensive line - which ultimately gives your quarterback more time. If you were to ask me, I think the Seahawks appreciate what a top talent at receiver can bring to a team which is why Marshall was on that seaplane.
If they want him bad enough, it could cost one of those two first round picks. That potentially means a lot - maybe missing out on a quarterback for the future, a top defensive lineman, a much needed left tackle or a talented addition to the secondary. Quite a price to pay when you're in the midst of a rebuild. They'd have to compare the risk involved taking a proven veteran with character issues over taking an expensive unproven rookie.
Not landing Marshall - which remains probably the most likely scenario at this point - could force the Seahawks to review the situation in the draft. Do they look to make a major investment in a guy like Dez Bryant? Will it be enough to wait until #40 and hope that a Brandon LaFell or Damian Williams remain on the board? I think you can read it both ways. Either they want Marshall because they feel they need to add a wide out and therefore will review options in the draft - or they may feel there's no comparable solution in this class which is why they're entertaining the prospect of making a huge splash for a troubled but talented veteran.
Either way, I think this is a sign from the Seahawks that rebuilding the offense will be a priority. Expect that to continue on April 22nd too. The only question is - will Brandon Marshall be a Seahawk by then? We might be waiting a long time to find out.