Ravens kick tires on Broncos' Marshall

OWINGS MLLS -- Although the Baltimore Ravens have yet to reach out to the Denver Broncos to inquire about unhappy star wide receiver Brandon Marshall, team officials are looking into his character issues and football skills. At this point, the Ravens' potential interest in the troubled Pro Bowl wideout remains at an exploratory level.

"We're interested in anybody that can help our team," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Tuesday during a rookie minicamp. "He plays for the Broncos and he's under contract. So, he's not a guy that we're considering or concerned with right now. We'll just have to see what happens."

A prospective trade for Marshall could require surrende ring a package of first-round and third-round draft picks.

The Chicago Bears, where Marshall could be reunited with former Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler, and the Cleveland Browns have emerged as other potential landing spots.

Marshall stormed out of a recent meeting with Broncos owner Pat Bowlen and has requested a trade due to his displeasure with his contract. He has also complained about the Broncos' medical staff and is recovering from hip surgery. He skipped a mandatory minicamp over the weekend.

Marshall has been repeatedly linked in rumors to the Ravens, who looked into trading for Arizona Cardinals Pro Bowl wide receiver Anquan Boldin prior to the NFL draft. Ultimately, the Ravens passed on Boldin due to the hefty draft pick compensation involved as well as salary demands that approached $10 million annually.

In the case of Marshall, his extensive history of domestic violence issues, recent surgery, the Broncos' trade demands as well as Marshall's salary requirements of at least $8 million to $9 million annually might derail any serious pursuit from the Ravens.

Marshall is due just $2.2 million this season in the final season of a four-year contract.

Marshall is set for a court date this summer on a pair of misdemeanor battery charges filed by a former girlfriend who detailed her stormy relationship with the former Central Florida standout during a recent ESPN investigative report.

Marshall, who's nicknamed "The Beast," could face NFL sanctions if he's convicted of the pending charges.

When asked about considering players with a history of legal problems, Harbaugh replied: "Their background matters. Any player we bring in is going to be a man of integrity and will be someone who is going to be respected in the locker room. We're never going to compromise on that."

Marshall, who was suspended three games last season by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and served only one game because of the reduced punishment, has been arrested four times. Two of the imposing NFL player's arrests have involved domestic violence.

He has been questioned by police at least 13 times, including seven domestic abuse allegations, over the past five years, according to published reports.

In a blog on his personal Web site with "Clearing The Air" as the title, Marshall broke his silence and made it clear that he's ready to leave the Broncos.

"To whom it may concern," Marshall wrote. "Life is filled with change, and where I am in my life now change is probably best. It's hard leaving an organization ran by one of the best owners in all of sports, and someone who's been there for me through my ups and downs.

"The hardest thing was hearing Mr. B wish me luck in the future, but we both came to the conclusion that this is probably the best thing for me to grow on and off the field. I thank the Denver fans who embraced my emotion and play on the field and showing me love every time I step outside my door."

Marshall also voiced his complaints about the Broncos' medical staff for allegedly failing to diagnose the full extent of his hip injury.

"It's kind of funny now, but some of my coaches thought I was getting 'big-headed' and just didn't want to practice but I needed some fine tuning," Marshall wrote. "What made last year so weird was that I got two MRIs, one in camp and the second around week six and was told nothing was wrong but come to find out THERE WAS A BIT OF A PROBLEM after all. LOL."

Meanwhile, Marshall's agent, Kennard McGuire, told a Denver television station Tuesday that the Broncos are willing to attempt to trade the disgruntled wide receiver.

"Yes, there was a meeting between Brandon, and Mr. Bowlen," McGuire said "There was a request for a trade. Mr. Bowlen has said that ownership will do everything in its power to accommodate his wishes."

One of the reasons that the Ravens shied away from drafting Nebraska running back Lawrence Phillips prior to their inaugural season in 1996 was his ugly history of domestic violence.

Ultimately, the Ravens went the safe route and were rewar ded by picking future Hall of Fame offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden.

There's no question, though, about Marshall's ability.

At the age of 25, Marshall has already caught 226 career passes for 2,899 yards and 15 touchdowns. He has ideal size at 6-foot-4, 230 pounds and the ability to create separation behind fast cornerbacks.

He caught 104 passes for 1,265 yards and six touchdowns last season.

The Ravens have injury issues at wide receiver with Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton and Demetrius Williams recovering from shoulder, heel and Achilles tendon/ankle injuries, respectively.

So, Marshall can't be ruled out immediately despite his legal problems and expensive price tag.

"Are we looking to upgrade our receiver position?" Ha rbaugh said. "The same as we are every other position. And if we can get a player in here that can make us better, sure, but if we can make the players we've got better, healthier, more productive, that's what we're going to do.

"We're trying to put together as strong a football team as we possibly can, and it's not really any more complicated than that. So, you have an interest in the receiver position just like every other position."

QUICK HITS: There was a brief altercation between rookie defensive end-outside linebacker Paul Kruger and an unnamed offensive lineman. "I got my helmet knocked off trying to break it up," outside linebacker-defensive end Willie Vandesteeg said. "That will happen when guys are trying to prove themselves and get noticed by the coaches. It's not a big deal." ... The Ravens tried out 10 players, including former Towson wide receiver and basketball player Tommy Breaux. A Randallstown native who tried out for the Washington Redskins at a minicamp but wasn't retained, Breaux is a lanky 6-foot-7, 199-pounder. "It's a dream come true," said Breaux, who caught 35 passes for 514 yards and six touchdowns for the Tigers last season. "There is nothing better than being at home, so it's been a blast being here. I just want to show them that I can play this game. I'm willing to work hard and want to help this team win the Super Bowl. I'm still a younger receiver, and I think this young kid has potential to play receiver in this game. . . . It's like going from high school to the NBA." ... Harbaugh wasn't sure if any of the players who participated on a trial basis will be signed. "We're going to look at this tape, and once we get three days of tape, we'll take a look and see if any of those guys can make us better," he said. "If they can, then we'll make a change." … Quarterback Joe Flacco attended the minicamp, greeting his former University of Delaware coaches who drove down to take in the practice. ... Undrafted free agent quarterback Drew Willy got quite the workout, throwing every pass as the only quarterback in camp. "It was fun," he said. "I didn't get too tired. It was just great to get a chance to show the coaches what I can do."

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.


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