Could Brandon Marshall Be The Answer To The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Wide Receiver Question?
It has been a question asked over and over again throughout the Tampa Bay area. Who will step up and become the second wide receiver opposite of Mike Evans? From free agent answers such as Alshon Jeffery, Kenny Britt, Terrelle Pryor and even in-house option Vincent Jackson, to using the draft to find their next number two guy, the rumors and opinions have been flying since the Buccaneers closed out their 9-7 2016 campaign. Thursday, the release of a veteran wide receiver threw another name in the hat, and this one may just be the best way to go.
Brandon Marshall will hit the free agent market following his release from the New York Jets, who are entering a full rebuild mode following the release of multiple veterans such as Darrelle Revis, Nick Mangold, Ryan Clady and Nick Folk. Marshall, 32, has been extremely productive during his 11 year career, snagging 941 catches for 12,061 yards and 82 touchdowns in 167 games for the Broncos, Bears, Dolphins and Jets. Although he had character issues earlier in his career, he has sought and received help for his past issues, and even in the spotlight of New York, has seemingly put his past behind him.
Signing Brandon Marshall could benefit the Buccaneers in multiple ways.
First off, Marshall will come much cheaper than the likes of an Alshon Jeffery, and have the ability to put up similar numbers. Only one year removed from a 1,502 yard, 14 touchdown season with the Jets, Marshall still has gas in the tank. Although he will be 33 years old come the beginning of the 2017 season, Marshall could be willing to sign a two-year deal somewhere in the $7.5 million a year range to play for a contender. With approximately just over $66 million to spend in free agency according to overthecap.com, signing Brandon Marshall could allow the Buccaneers to use their cap space to fill other holes in their roster(i.e. safety).
Even though signing Brandon Marshall could be beneficial to the Buccaneers in their quest to return to the postseason, Marshall would not be the long-term answer given his age. Signing Marshall, however, gives the Buccaneers the chance to draft a raw wide receiver and develop him into the next compliment to Mike Evans. There is value to be had after the first round of the NFL draft at wide receiver in terms of raw talent. One name that sticks out is Washington wide receiver John Ross, although given that he broke Chris Johnson‘s 40 yard dash record with a time of 4.22 seconds, he may not be available by the time the Buccaneers pick in the second round.
Another player the Buccaneers could eye in the second round is Curtis Samuel from Ohio State. Although he was a running back for the Buckeyes, his size makes him more suitable as a receiver, the position he entered the NFL Combine as. He has blazing speed finishing with a 4.31 40 time, and although he is raw, could be developed into a threat while Brandon Marshall holds down the number two spot in the short-term. Samuel would be a wise selection not only for his ability to become a suitable number two receiver, but he also has the ability to return kicks, another position of need for the Buccaneers.
Brandon Marshall may not be the sexiest pickup with Alshon Jeffery and Terrelle Pryor‘s names in the mix, but Marshall may be the short-term answer that leads to long-term prosperity.