Brandon Marshall: Time to call it a career

With age and, maybe, health no longer on his side, now seems like a good time for Marshall to close the book on an eventful, but successful career.

(Photo credit: Keith Allison)

Brandon Marshall is confident he can still be an asset to an NFL team. At age 34, do any teams feel the same? Not at the moment, considering he’s still available for hire.

Like Marshall, some believe he can still be effective, but after his forgetful 2017 season with the New York Giants ended five games in because of an ankle injury, there’s reason to think the six-time Pro Bowler’s best years really are behind him. There’s also the notion he’s not worth the money – and maybe even the hassle – to keep around as a backup.

The latter is probably true, so even though Marshall wants to prove he’s worth more than a roster spot, the reality is he’s obviously no longer the player who caught 109 passes for 1,502 yards and 14 touchdowns for the New York Jets in 2014. 

Marshall is a proud man, but he also has an ego, at some point the former has to be swallowed and latter must be checked. That time is now.

Just not same

If last season with the Giants taught us anything about Marshall the player, it’s that even when healthy he’s longer a tier 1 receiver. Odell Beckham Jr. was there, too, so Marshall didn’t really need to be the No. 1 guy. But Eli Manning likes to spread the wealth, and while 2017 was a complete dumpster fire for the Giants, Marshall was non-existent with 18 catches for 154 yards and, for the first time in his career, no touchdowns.

Truthfully, the decline started one year earlier with the Jets when he caught 59 passes for 788 yards and just three scores. Age and mileage will do that to a football player, even one as physically gifted as Marshall.

Gone is the man who has an NFL-record six seasons with at least 100 receptions, scored at least 10 touchdowns four times and posted seven straight 1,000-yard receiving campaigns. The rest of the NFL knows he’s not the star he once was, but not Marshall, at least not yet. If he is to latch on with somebody, he must be willing to take a side role, perhaps as a red zone option, which then would make him an enticing option for any quarterback.

Give him his due

Marshall’s career, as we know, has hardly gone smoothly while making as many headlines off the field as on it. The freak injuries, drunk driving, domestic violence and battery charges. He was at a Denver club the night Broncos teammate Darrent Williams was fatally shot on New Year’s Day 2007 and was stabbed in the stomach by his wife in 2011.

Later in 2011, Marshall announced that he was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Through it all, however, he’s kept going. Marshall hasn’t always been the model teammate, and is vocal and passionate, sometimes for the wrong reasons at the wrong times.

However, when Marshall’s career does officially end, his credentials are worthy of debate for a spot in Canton. He’s the first player to have a 1,000-yard receiving season for four teams, is 41 receptions shy of 1,000 and ranks 23rd all-time with 12,215 receiving yards.

The resume is impressive, even if some of his off-field actions were not. If it were to end today, like it probably should, Marshall’s career on the field has been a success and one anybody could be proud of.

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Jeff Mezydlo

Jeff is our NFL Editor, who has written and reported on the NFL for more than 20 years and spent a decade as the Chicago Bears beat reporter and columnist for two daily newspapers. His favorite all-time player is Walter Payton and he attended the famous 'Fog Bowl' Bears-Eagles playoff game as a teenager. He's also contributing to our coverage of World Cup 2018.