Statistically speaking Brandon Marshall just had the second worse season of his career. Marshall played in 15 games, catching 59 passes on 128 targets (so he caught the ball on less than half the passes thrown his way) for 788 yards and only three touchdowns. So some might roll their eyes and laugh at him when he suggests he's underpaid, but he's right.
Only Marshall's rookie season was worse (20 catches, on 39 targets, for 309 yards and two touchdowns), normally when a 32-year-old player has their worst season since their rookie year it's time to start thinking about hanging up the cleats but there's extenuating circumstances that explain he's poor statistical showing last year.
There are the injuries, Marshall battled knee and ankle injuries all season after a horse collar tackle against the Bills in Week Two and while he was able to push through the pain it clearly impacted him at times and led to more injuries like the hip injury that kept him out of the last game against the Bills. Many people will point to the handful of easy drops Marshall had, but he's always had those. The drops are part of the Brandon Marshall package, he usually drops a gimme pass a game or every other game, but you live with those drops, even when they come at the most inconvenient of times, because he makes very few players can make. While there are, amazingly, still some Ryan Fitzpatrick truthers out there the real, and incredibly obvious, reason for Marshall's poor statistical showing was the horrendous quarterback play from the Jets.
Sure Marshall dropped a few easy passes throughout the season, but there were far many throws that never made it anywhere near Marshall's almost inhuman catch radius. Far too often Marshall would be open to make a catch, but Fitzpatrick would miss the talented wideout by 10 feet, or even worse he'd be intercepted. At times Fitzpatrick would lock on Marshall and stare him down from the snap and make the throw anyway even if three defenders had already read his eyes and broke to cover Marshall. When Bryce Petty took over not much changed, Petty didn't force quite as many passes to Marshall because he was stuck on the deep balls to Robby Anderson, but Marshall would still get open he's quarterback just didn't get him the ball.
Which brings us to the idea that Marshall is underpaid, an idea he brought up on the radio yesterday.
"People need to get away from me due $7.5 million," Marshall told Bommer and Carton on WFAN Radio yesterday. "Get away from my salary. That's underpaid. Any team should be happy to have me for $7.5 million."
Once again, he's absolutely correct. Tavon Austin will get $15 million next year, Demaryius Thomas $12.5 million, Jeremy Maclin gets $10 million, Randall Cobb $9.5 million, Doug Baldwin comes in at $8.25 million and Torrey Smith gets $8 million. Marshall is better than every one of those receivers (one could make an argument for Baldwin but he's simply a better fit for the Seahawks than Marshall and Baldwin would be a much worse fit for the Jets) and any team would, and should, be happy to have Marshall for only $7.5 million but, to no fault of his own, some teams should be more happy to have him than then the Jets.
If the Jets decide to go all out for one more year and sign or trade for a veteran like Tony Romo then Marshall becomes more valuable to the Jets but seeing how this roster is structured there's really not a realistic shot the Jets can fill all their holes and make a serious run next season, with or without Marshall. So, that means he holds more value to the Jets as a trade assest to be flipped for parts to rebuild with. The 2017 Jets would be a better team with Marshall but that team still won't be good enough to make a meaningful run, so it just makes sense to trade the 32-year-old receiver for draft picks and let him continue to chase his playoff dreams on a team with an actual shot at the playoffs.
The Jets should be encouraged with what they say from Quincy Enunwa and Anderson this season and if Marshall isn't here next year those two will have a much more difficult time getting open consistently without Marshall drawing the attention, but with their quarterback situation looking so dire for next year keeping Marshall around, even for a bargain price, simply doesn't make sense.
Then there's the fact that while Marshall himself is underpaid, the Jets will have far too much money tied up in receivers next year. Right now only the Packers, Broncos, Falcons and Cowboys have more salary tied up in receivers. The Jets currently have $22,263,333 allocated to receivers for next season, getting Marshall off the books would take them down to a much more manageable $14,763,333. $8,750,000 of that $14 plus million will be from Eric Decker's salary, unlike Marshall though Decker has $3 million in dead money that would count against the cap no matter what and considering he's still recovering from hip and shoulder surgery the Jets won't likely be able to trade him or release him and if they could eventually trade Decker, Marshall would still bring in more value in a trade.
Marshall has been a great Jets for two years, but his outspoken demeanor rub a few players in the locker room the wrong way, not just Sheldon Richardson, and there's no reason to think he wouldn't perform well, if healthy, next year and earn every penny of that $7.5 million next year with the Jets, but he's simply worth more to a team that actually has a shot at the playoffs next year.
Chris Nimbley is the editor-in-chief of JetsInsider.com/NYJScout.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@cnimbley), or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org)null