Brandon Marshall (LB)

Ravens Interested In LB Brandon Marshall

We’re starting to get some clarity on Brandon Marshall‘s market. After learning today that the Raiders have interest in the veteran linebacker, Troy Renck of Denver7 reports (via Twitter) that the Ravens have also expressed interest in Marshall.

The 29-year-old was set to earn $9MM with the Broncos in 2019, but the team decided to not pick up his option. Since that time, only the Raiders have been definitively connected to the defender. However, reports indicated that five anonymous teams were interested in the veteran.

Marshall battled through injuries during the 2018 season, limiting him to 11 games. He ultimately finished the campaign with only 42 tackles, his lowest total since he became a starter during the 2014 season. Still, the former fifth-rounder proved that he can be productive when he’s at full strength, as the linebacker finished with at least 100 tackles in each of his three healthiest seasons.

The Ravens have lost a trio of linebackers this offseason in C.J. Mosley, Terrell Suggs, and Za’Darius Smith. The team has naturally been in the market for reinforcement at the position, and they’ve already added Ejuan Price and Matthew Thomas to their corps.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders Interested In Brandon Marshall; Also Interested In Vontaze Burfict?

The Raiders are interested in former Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall, according to Mike Klis of 9News (via Twitter). Marshall, who saw his 2019 option declined by the division-rival Broncos, has attracted the attention of at least five clubs.

He does have a concerning injury history, but Oakland has very little firepower in its LB corps, and Marshall, who compiled 102 tackles and three sacks in 2017, would represent an immediate upgrade if he can stay healthy.

Vontaze Burfict would also represent an upgrade, and the Raiders, never a club to shy away from controversial players and big personalities, may also may be interested in the recently-released linebacker, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The Bengals cut Burfict today after a seven-year run that included one Pro Bowl berth and a whole host of fines and suspensions, and though he may have lost a step or two, there is clearly a need for someone of his ability in Oakland.

In addition to their interest in Marshall and their potential interest in Burfict, the Raiders have also hosted Manti Te’o and Aaron Lynch, as Rapoport observes. Te’o, who just finished a two-year pact that he signed with the Saints in 2017, saw action in just five contests (two starts) last year, compiling 18 total tackles, but he did start 11 games in 2017 and played reasonably well. Plus, he is still only 28, and he would likely welcome a chance to sign with the Raiders given the playing time that might be available for him.

Unlike Burfict and Te’o, Lynch is an edge defender who can line up at DE or OLB. He was in for about 1/3 of the Bears’ defensive snaps in 2018, and he recorded three sacks in his 13 games played (three starts). The Raiders need someone who can get after the quarterback, and Lynch did post 12.5 sacks over his first two years in the league with the 49ers. At 26, he could be a low-risk, high-reward acquisition.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

New York Notes: Tannehill, Mosley, Giants

The Jets made some noise on Day 1 of the legal tampering period, adding Anthony Barr, Jamison Crowder and Josh Bellamy to the mix. Their Barr deal also may not preclude them from a C.J. Mosley pact. The Jets aggressively pursued the four-time Pro Bowl linebacker on Monday, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News tweets. Other teams — including the Browns, Colts and Redskins, in addition to the Ravens — made pushes for Mosley, and those may start back up again Tuesday. The linebacker remains unsigned. The Jets still have plenty of cap room and may be set to waive Darron Lee soon, creating room for Mosley alongside Avery Williamson.

While Barr is expected to help the Jets’ edge rush, he is also viewed as someone who will play off the ball, Mehta notes, comparing the latest high-priced Gregg Williams chess piece to Jamie Collins — the Browns’ off-ball ‘backer who would rush quarterbacks as well. However, it sounds like Barr — a UCLA edge defender — will see more time in rush roles than Collins did.

Here is more from the Jets’ first day of unofficial free agency and the latest from Giants headquarters:

  • A third Josh McCown Jets season could occur, with the team maintaining some interest in the soon-to-be 40-year-old passer backing up Sam Darnold, per SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano. But McCown released a statement Monday night indicating he is undecided on continuing his career, which could put the Jets in the market for another backup.
  • One of those options figures to be Ryan Tannehill, given his three-year run with Adam Gase in Miami. However, the soon-to-be-released quarterback has not come up in Jets meetings about filling their QB2 role, per Mehta. Tannehill could command a higher-end backup salary, like McCown, due to his extensive run as a starter. But he has not proven he can stay healthy since his knee troubles began in 2016.
  • A Mosley backup plan may be former Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall. The Jets expressed interest in the longtime Denver starter, according to Vacchiano. This would also point to Lee not being in the team’s plans any longer.
  • A third Morris Claiborne contract will not be on the Jets’ agenda, despite their need at corner, Vacchiano adds. Claiborne’s past two free agency stays ended with Jets deals; the veteran corner will likely have to seek his latest contract elsewhere.
  • The Broncos just reset the right tackle market, with their four-year, $52MM deal for Ja’Wuan James, and that should drive up the price for Daryl Williams. The Giants are likely to express interest in the former Panthers starter, Vacchiano notes. But as was the case with former Dave Gettleman find Andrew Norwell, whom the Giants tried to sign last year, Williams probably won’t come cheap. That said, Norwell and James were coming off healthy seasons; Williams missed almost all of last season because of leg injuries.
  • Big Blue, per Vacchiano, also inquired Monday about former Redskins outside linebacker Preston Smith, who is one of this market’s top edge defenders. The Giants just traded Olivier Vernon to the Browns and have a massive need on the edge. But Smith will also be a coveted commodity on this market.

Extra Points: Golden, Jackson, Marshall

Here’s the latest from around the NFL:

  • The Giants have interest in Cardinals free agent Markus Golden, according to Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com (on Twitter). As per usual, free agent pass rushers are expected to cash in big, so Golden could be looking at a substantial deal. Giants defensive coordinator James Bettcher coached Golden in Arizona in 2016 when he notched 12.5 sacks, so it’s a logical fit.
  • The Broncos placed a call on Malik Jackson after his release from Jacksonville, a source close to the player tells Mike Klis of 9News (on Twitter). However, the Broncos didn’t really need Jackson, and they have placed a greater emphasis on finding a nose tackle. Jackson, of course, inked a three-year, $30MM deal with the Eagles this morning.
  • Five teams are interested in Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall, according to ESPN.com’s Josina Anderson (on Twitter). As previously reported, Marshall’s option for 2019 will not be exercised.

Broncos Notes: Flacco, Draft, Marshall

The Broncos may have acquired veteran signal-caller Joe Flacco earlier this week, but that doesn’t mean the organization won’t draft a quarterback in this year’s draft. A Broncos source told Matt Miller of Bleacher Report that the team wouldn’t balk at taking one of the top quarterback prospects.

“We’re going to take the best player on our board when the pick comes up,” the source said. “Period.”

Of course, that quote indicates that the team won’t specifically target a quarterback, but it also shows that the team will be flexible heading into the draft. As Miller notes, the Broncos have been connected to Missouri quarterback Drew Lock, although the prospect isn’t projected to be a top-10 pick (Denver’s slotted in at the 10th-overall pick).

Let’s check out some more notes out of Denver…

  • The Broncos will be searching for some help at cornerback this offseason, according to ESPN’s Jeff LegwoldBradley RobyTramaine Brock and Jamar Taylor are all set to hit free agency, meaning the team will need to search for someone to play opposite Chris Harris. The veteran defensive back recognizes that his team will be seeking reinforcement in the secondary, and he’s confident that new head coach Vic Fangio will help to revitalize the entire unit. “It’s like I’ve said, I think we just haven’t evolved here,” Harris said. “You know, after the Super Bowl [in 2016], it’s like we kind of just got stagnant. We haven’t evolved. We’ve got to evolve with everything … get better as players, all of us. I just think this past year we were kind of behind.”
  • We learned yesterday that the Broncos weren’t going to be picking up linebacker Brandon Marshall‘s option, making him a free agent. The 29-year-old emerged as a starting-caliber player during his tenure in Denver, and he’s been productive in both a 4-3 and 3-4 scheme. Marshall believes that versatility will help him as he searches for his next gig. “I think that’s going to help me a lot (in free agency),” he told Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post. “I was in a 4-3 my first year starting in Denver and playing a 3-4 will let teams know I can do it all.”
  • Back to Flacco, we heard earlier this week that the team doesn’t intend to re-work the veteran’s contract. The 34-year-old is under contract in each of the next three seasons at base salaries of $18.5MM, $20.25MM, and $24.25MM, although none of that money is guaranteed.

Broncos To Part Ways With Brandon Marshall

The Broncos are set to part ways with linebacker Brandon Marshall, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The Broncos informed Marshall that they are not planning to pick up his option, making him a free agent in March. 

Free agency officially kicks off on March 13, but Marshall’s injury history could force him to wait a week or two before landing anywhere. If he does sign quickly, it’ll be for a lesser sum than the $7MM he was set to earn in 2019 with Denver.

Marshall, 30 in September, was injured for much of the 2018 season. He finished out with just 42 tackles in eleven games, giving him his lowest number of stops since becoming a starter in the 2014 season.

The Broncos inked Marshall to a four-year, $32MM extension in the summer of 2016, tacking multiple years on to his RFA tender season. After he finished out with 102 tackles, it was an easy decision for GM John Elway & Co. But, given his injuries in 2016 and 2018, the Broncos felt compelled to cut him loose.

I love the organization, they gave me my first chance to play,” Marshall said, via Mike Klis of 9News (Twitter link). “I love all my teammates. I really love city. I felt embraced on and off the field. I’m just sorry I was injured two of the last three years. … It’s a really great organization so we’ll see what happens.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Rumors: Brown, Crowell, Pats, Broncos

Although Joe Flacco interrupted Antonio Brown‘s run as the NFL news cycle’s offseason centerpiece, the Steelers‘ drama with their superstar wide receiver remains the league’s top storyline. After Brown’s trade request, NFL executives believe there may be a significant gap between what the Steelers want to part ways with Brown (and take on a sizable dead-money chunk) and what other teams will pay. One NFL GM believes Pittsburgh, regardless of Brown’s age (31 in July) and off-field trouble, will still want a first-rounder, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com notes. Two other high-ranking execs said, via Fowler, Brown could fetch a Day 2 draft choice, while another predicted a fourth-round pick. Collecting a third- or fourth-round pick for a four-time All-Pro, while taking on more than $20MM in dead money, would be an incredible pill for the Steelers to swallow.

One team that may want Brown may not be able to acquire him, with Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweeting the Steelers will not trade him to the Patriots in addition to having a predictable stance on an intra-AFC North trade.

Free agency is less than a month away, but teams are making moves in preparation. Here is the latest on this front, along with other AFC news:

  • Already pushing $100MM in cap space, the Jets may move closer to triple digits soon. They plan to release Isaiah Crowell once they agree to terms with a veteran running back, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News notes. Such a release would clear $3MM off New York’s cap. The Jets have been the team most linked to preparing for a Le’Veon Bell run, and Mehta adds Tevin Coleman would be a nice consolation prize. While Crowell signed a three-year, $12MM deal, the Jets would only be on the hook for the remaining $2MM of his signing bonus.
  • With several free agents at wide receiver, the Patriots‘ pass-catching corps is likely to look considerably different next season. However, if Josh Gordon is somehow reinstated, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe expects the RFA to be back in New England (Twitter link). But the Patriots obviously cannot count on that happening. Additionally, the Patriots are not, in fact, paying for Gordon’s rehab. The NFLPA is doing so, Volin adds.
  • Under Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens have been known to prioritize compensatory picks. They may be ready to collect another prime end-of-round draft choice this year. Za’Darius Smith‘s free agency buzz reminds The Athletic’s Jeff Zreibec of what followed Pernell McPhee four years ago as he readied for the market. McPhee left for a big Bears offer. A contract-year wonder, Smith looks headed elsewhere, too, per Zreibec (subscription required), with the Ravens prioritizing four-time Pro Bowler C.J. Mosley and possible skill-position enhancements. Baltimore is about to lose $16MM via its Flacco trade, and it presently holds just $21MM in cap space. So adjustments will need to occur if these roster-bolstering hopes are to be realized.
  • Brandon Marshall is open to restructuring his contract to stay with the Broncos, Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic notes (subscription required), but Denver may be set to move on after a six-season partnership. The Broncos re-signed Todd Davis last year and like 2018 fourth-round pick Josey Jewell, who started several games for an injured Marshall last season and would be a cheaper alternative. Denver would save $5MM by releasing Marshall while also being tagged with $4MM in cap charges. A Super Bowl 50 starter, Marshall played all 16 games in 2017 but missed five in both 2016 and ’18.

West Notes: Broncos, Raiders, Seahawks

One team that will likely be undergoing a lot of change this offseason is the Broncos. Vance Joseph seems almost certain to be fired at the end of the season, and the shakeup will likely go well beyond the coaching staff. John Elway will have decisions to make about a lot of the roster, including quarterback Case Keenum, and there will be some tough calls. To preview the tumultuous offseason ahead, Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic took a look at the roster and projected who is likely to be gone in 2019.

We’ve already known that outside linebacker Shane Ray and safety Su’a Cravens are extremely unlikely to be back in a Broncos uniform next year, and Jhabvala thinks several other big name defenders are in danger as well. She writes that cornerback Bradley Roby and linebacker Brandon Marshall, both starters the last few seasons, are both unlikely to be brought back. Jhabvala notes that the team traded Aqib Talib this past offseason because they were confident Roby was ready for a bigger role, but they’ve since soured on the 2015 first round pick. Among other players Jhabvala lists as being in danger are center Matt Paradis, who she thinks might be priced out of the Broncos’ range, and guard Max Garcia, who had already been demoted before tearing his ACL earlier this year.

Here’s more from the league’s western divisions:

  • The Raiders are still looking to upgrade their secondary, but they now view third year safety Karl Joseph as a building block for the future, according to Scott Bair of NBC Sports. Bair writes that the team was shopping the 2016 first round pick at the trade deadline, but is now “happy they didn’t deal him” because of his play the second half of the season. The West Virginia alum has received very good marks from Pro Football Focus, especially recently, and has been a large part of Oakland’s recent resurgence.
  • The Seahawks clinched a playoff berth with their huge win over the Chiefs last Sunday night, and got even more good news this week. Starting guard J.R. Sweezy suffered what initially appeared to be a serious foot injury, but coach Pete Carroll said he thinks Sweezy will be able to play in the first round of the playoffs (Twitter link via Brady Henderson of ESPN). Sweezy has started every game this year for Seattle’s reborn offensive line, and while Carroll is notoriously overly optimistic when diagnosing injuries, this is still good news.
  • Speaking of the Seahawks, their defensive tackle Shamar Stephen “is closing in on a significant incentive bonus”, according to Henderson. Stephen is due a $500K bonus if he plays between 45 and 49.99 percent of Seattle’s defensive snaps, or $700K if he plays between 50-54.99 percent. Stephen is currently playing 50.16% of their defensive snaps entering their Week 17 game, so he’s on track to hit it. Considering Stephen’s base salary this year was only $800K, this would be a massive bonus for him to reach.

Trade Rumors: Carr, Raiders, Peterson, Taylor

We learned earlier this morning that Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson has requested a trade, though the team wants to keep him. Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets that Jackson, on his way to the team bus this morning, declined to comment on the report.

With the trade deadline two days away, let’s round up a few more trade rumors from around the league (Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, who says many GMs expect there to be three to five “impactful” deals over the next 48 hours, offers a helpful primer, which includes a list of some of the most-discussed players on the market):

  • Albert Breer of TheMMQB says that the Raiders may not be done dealing just yet, though he does not expect the team to move Derek Carr (indeed, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reported this morning that the Raiders have told Carr that he is the quarterback of the present and future). However, Oakland is open to moving Karl Joseph and Gareon Conley, though the Raiders are driving a “hard bargain” with teams interested in Conley.
  • Breer names a number of other players whose names we have not heard in recent rumblings but who could nonetheless be on the move: the PackersHa Ha Clinton-Dix, the 49ersPierre Garcon and Jimmie Ward, the CardinalsChandler Jones, and the BroncosShane Ray and Brandon Marshall. Breers adds that San Francisco would need to get something “significant” to deal Ward. He also says that, while teams are certainly interested in Denver corners Bradley Roby and Chris Harris, he thinks it would be difficult for the team to trade either.
  • If they had elected to trade Patrick Peterson, La Canfora writes that the Cardinals could have received a bounty for him, and may have even landed multiple first-round picks (in fact, several teams were already prepared to offer a first- and second-rounder). JLC reports that Peterson was considered the “crown jewel” of the deadline, and given his attractive contract status, he may be the subject of renewed trade rumors during the offseason.
  • Breer also writes that the Browns are open to trading Tyrod Taylor, whose contract structure could make a deal feasible. Meanwhile, Tony Grossi of ESPN.com suggests that Cleveland GM John Dorsey may be trying to acquire wide receiver help (Twitter link).
  • The Bills remain unlikely to trade LeSean McCoy, per Schefter.
  • Jets GM Mike Maccagnan has demonstrated a proclivity for making trades, and Rich Cimini of ESPN.com says Maccagnan has been doing his due diligence on everyone, including big-name players. But while there is a sense that New York could swing a deal, the fact that the team is in a no-man’s land between buyer and seller, and the fact that the roster does not have many tradeable pieces, could make a trade difficult to pull off.

AFC West Rumors: Broncos, OL, Patterson

While the Broncos have made two Super Bowls in the past five seasons and have seen numerous players sign extensions or land lucrative deals elsewhere, they have not had much luck filling their right tackle job. Denver has assembled Week 1 lineups with five different right tackles since the 2013 season, and in 2018, the franchise could be set to extend that streak to six. The Broncos are scouring the market for tackle help, Nick Kosminder of the Denver Post notes. With Garett Bolles set to play left tackle for a second season, this presumably means the franchise is again looking to upgrade on the other side.

John Elway said at the Combine the team planned to keep Menelik Watson, despite his struggles with performance and injuries last season. The 2017 UFA acquisition followed Donald Stephenson as a disappointing mid-level UFA add, but at this point, Denver would be pursuing another lower-tier free agent since the top talents on this market have signed. Of PFR’s top 10 UFA tackles, only LaAdrian Waddle, Cameron Fleming and Sam Young remain unsigned. Waddle is meeting with the Patriots, and Fleming is visiting the Cowboys on Monday. The Broncos signed Watson after middling results with the Raiders, and Oakland’s other two right tackles in that span — Austin Howard and Marshall Newhouse — are now available. The Broncos have tried draft choices Michael Schofield and Ty Sambrailo here as well and could bring in competition through that avenue again, but the team looks like it’s examining veterans right now.

Here’s the latest from Denver and other AFC West locales.

  • Brandon Marshall‘s $5MM 2018 salary became fully guaranteed on Sunday, Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post notes. He will return to start for a fifth season in Denver. This isn’t a big surprise considering the Broncos signed Marshall to a four-year, $32MM extension in the summer of 2016. He’s set to comprise $7MM of the Broncos’ 2018 cap. This comes after the Broncos agreed to a three-year, $15MM deal with Marshall’s inside linebacker running mate, Todd Davis.
  • Prior to bringing back Davis, however, the Broncos offered to pay Corey Nelson a one-year deal worth $2.25MM, Jhabvala reports. The Broncos were interested in retaining their longtime backup, who is viewed as a superior coverage player to Davis, but he instead accepted a one-year, $2.25MM offer to sign with the Eagles. Denver still has backup inside linebacker Zaire Anderson under contract.
  • The Raiders agreeing to ship Cordarrelle Patterson to the Patriots freed up $3.25MM in cap space, but the primary reason for the trade was Patterson not being a fit for what Jon Gruden is eyeing, Vic Tafur of The Athletic tweets. Patterson signed a two-year deal with the Raiders last year. The Raiders have reshuffled their receiving corps but are now in deed of more depth at that position.
  • The Chiefs are examining the RFA pool by hosting defensive lineman Xavier Williams on a visit. Williams is a Kansas City, Mo., native.