Brandon Marshall visited Seattle and left without signing an offer sheet, which makes the situation much more complicated. Simply because, at the moment, no other team seems to be falling over itself to sign Marshall, a restricted free agent who would cost a team its first-round pick if Denver doesn’t match.
ESPN reported Cincinnati had discussions about Marshall, but some writers (including one of ESPN’s own) seemed unconvinced the Bengals are really interested. The Cincinnati Enquirer said Monday that the Bengals were going to bring in unrestricted free agent receiver Antonio Bryant for a visit, and Cincinnati likely won’t sign Marshall and Bryant.
If the Bengals aren’t willing to sign Marshall, what will happen? The Seahawks don’t appear ready to give up the sixth overall pick in the draft. That is a hefty price to pay. A trade for lesser compensation could be worked out, but until there’s a second suitor, the Seahawks don’t have much reason to overpay. Then the situation could turn a bit ugly for the Broncos.
Denver could bring Marshall back, technically. All sides have said the right things over the offseason. But Marshall – whose displeasure with his contract last year was well known and chronicled – surely wouldn’t be pleased to come back for a restricted tender offer of less than $3 million. He was looking at getting a big-money deal in free agency. It would be a massive blow to get only $3 million when other top receivers have already signed huge contracts. The Broncos didn’t exactly indicate their desire for Marshall to return, either, when they tendered him at a first-round level rather than a first and third, like they did with Elvis Dumervil.
So it appears Marshall wants to move on (or at least get paid), and the Broncos want to move on, but there needs to be a partner in the bidding. Seattle is still the most likely destination, but the Broncos can’t afford to give him away. They would probably also rather tie this up quickly so they can re-tool at the receiver position. At the moment, the process isn’t working that smoothly.
Marshall’s situation is far from being over. How it is resolved will go a long way in determining if the Broncos’ offseason was a success.