The New York Jets and Brandon Marshall have parted ways. The Jets granted Marshall his wish to be released. Marshall reportedly turned down an extension with the team, likely because they’ve begun a complete rebuild. He’ll hit free agency and join a deep list of available of wide receivers.
Should the Bills target Marshall?
Marshall is coming off a down year and is 32 years old, but he should be a target for the Bills in free agency. The down year can be attributed to the fact that the Jets quarterbacks this year were Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bryce Petty, and Geno Smith. Also, if you can believe it, the receiver group in New Jersey was just about as bad as it was in Buffalo. Eric Decker got injured in the third game of the season, which left Quincy Enunwa as the No. 2 option. I think it’s fair to say defenses could lock onto Marshall during 2016.
Marshall will turn 33 at the end of the month, which is concerning. However, there’s evidence he still has some left in the tank. In 2015, he was 6th in the league in receptions, 4th in receiving yards, and 1st in receiving touchdowns. There’s also some precedent for success at his age. Larry Fitzgerald led the league in receptions this past season at 33.
In his prime, Marshall was one of the best receivers in the NFL. He would be a big, skilled target to a Bills wideout contingent lacking talent in a major way after Sammy Watkins. He should be a target for the Bills, but will he?
Will the Bills target Marshall?
The Bills have been trying to get a big wide receiver on the Bills for years now. Remember when they signed former-star-recruit Da’Rick Rogers (6’ 3”) and we all got excited? How about former Syracuse star Mike Williams (6’ 2”)? They also drafted Dez Lewis (6’ 4”) in 2015. James Hardy (6’ 5”) was a different regime, but same mold. I apologize for bringing that name up. All of those investments have seen very little return. The only one who has produced for the Bills is Justin Hunter (6’ 4”), who caught four touchdowns but only 23 passes this season. Marshall is 6’ 4” and has had more success in the NFL than all of those players combined.
New Bills offensive coordinator, Rick Dennison was Marshall’s offensive coordinator in Denver from 2006 to 2008. Marshall had some great years under Dennison, but there were some off the field issues that may have soured the relationship. If we learned anything from the Rex years, familiarity goes a long way in the NFL.
Marshall fits the mold of a player the Bills have been targeting for years, and their OC has familiarity with him. This leads me to believe the Bills will be interested in Marshall.
Do the Bills have a chance at landing Marshall?
So, the Bills should target Marshall, and I think they will, but do they have a chance? Unfortunately, I do not think so.
Marshall is arguably the greatest receiver in NFL history to never play in a playoff game. He is 18th in receptions, 24th in receiving yards, and 8th in receiving touchdowns. He’s tops in all of those categories for players who have not seen the postseason. Before last season, he discussed being hungry for the playoffs and a championship. In a farewell message Marshall posted on Instagram early today he stated “I'm looking forward to finding a great organization where I can contribute and bring home a championship.” We can debate how close the Bills are to the playoffs, but it is safe to say that the Bills are not the ready-made championship team that Marshall may be looking for. Then again, what player doesn’t want to win a Super Bowl? While the Bills should and likely will be interested in Marshall, I do not think the feeling will be mutual.