The New York Giants and Brandon Marshall could be a match in free agency in the coming days.
The New York Giants have some clear cut needs heading into free agency. The usual suspects are on the list, such as linebacker and offensive line. There is a good chance that offensive line is at the top of that list. Their inability to pass protect or open holes in the running game torpedoed the offense as a whole.
One area the Giants could look to upgrade that many people will overlook is wide receiver. With Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard people will say the Giants are set. But, with the frequency that the Giants use three wide receiver sets a third receiver is needed.
The Giants used three-receiver sets more than any team in the NFL last season. It was basically their base set as they did not have a fullback, using tight ends to masquerade as fullbacks at times.
Victor Cruz did not cut it last season and was given his walking papers this offseason. Tavarres King flashed during the offseason and the Giants like Roger Lewis Jr. as well. But, can they trust either player with a prominent role in the offense? Probably not, which makes free agency the place for the Giants to address the need.
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One player to keep an eye on is the recently released Brandon Marshall. Marshall and the New York Jets agreed to part ways as Marshall wants to play for a contender. The Giants are close to being contenders and Marshall could help push them closer.
The Giants badly need a receiver to play on the outside to complement Beckham Jr. with Shepard locked into the slot. Marshall would be a perfect complement to the explosive Beckham Jr. as a bigger, possession type receiver.
Marshall would give Eli Manning another viable target in the passing game and improve the Giants red zone offense as well. Standing 6-feet-4 inches tall, Marshall would be an excellent weapon near the goal line.
Beckham Jr. and Shepard are both excellent players, but both are under six-feet tall. Marshall would add some much-needed size to the Giants receiving corps that they have not seen since Plaxico Burress, Amani Toomer, and Ramses Barden to a certain extent; all three players stood at least 6-feet-3 inches tall.
Marshall is coming off one of the worst seasons in his career, but some of that can be attributed to the situation he was in. The Jets were not a good team last season, as Marshall had passes being thrown to him by Ryan Fitzpatrick, Geno Smith, and Bryce Petty. Manning, despite being 36-years old and showing some signs of decline, is much better than all three.
Marshall would also find life easier with so many weapons surrounding him. He had 109 receptions for 1,502 yards and 14 touchdowns with Eric Decker across from him catching passes from Fitzpatrick; imagine what he can do with Beckham Jr. and Shepard garnering attention and Manning slinging the ball around?
Marshall would also be an excellent addition to the Giants locker room. Yes, he has had his share of run-ins and incidents, but the Giants need a veteran presence to help groom Beckham Jr. Marshall was one player to talk to Beckham Jr. last season and would provide guidance as a player that has gone through some tough times himself.
The biggest hurdle the Giants would need to clear is money. Marshall was set to make $7.5 million before the Jets cut him. If he wants to make near that, he may have to look elsewhere. The Giants are not flush with cap space as they were last season.
But, if Marshall’s comments near the end of the 2016 season are any indication, the Giants should have a chance to land him given their commitment to winning.
"“It’s not about the money,” Marshall said. “I’m good. I’m good with the money. I just want to win. That’s all I want to do. I’ll play for free. My bills are paid.”"
That is good news for the Giants who have pressing needs at other positions. If they are able to land Marshall at a bargain price while upgrading along the offensive line the offense should take a huge step forward in 2016.
The Giants are returning plenty of their key contriubtors from last season on both sides of the ball. Adding Marshall to that group should help push them closer to the other contending teams in the NFL.