The Big Question: Will Marshall leave?

March, 9, 2010
3/09/10
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A new Tuesday feature on the ESPN.com NFL blog network.

Will Denver receiver Brandon Marshall be in a different uniform in 2010?

This is the burning question in the AFC West.

And I believe the answer is yes. I just don’t see any way Marshall will return to Denver.

[+] EnlargeMarshall
Eric Hartline/US PresswireBrandon Marshall has recorded at least 101 receptions in each of the past three seasons.
I know all parties have said a Marshall return to Denver is possible. I know there have been reports that the Broncos want a first-round pick for Marshall or they won’t let him go. Remember, Jay Cutler wasn’t going to be traded, either.

I think, ultimately, Denver would change its stance if an attractive offer is made. For example, if Denver is offered a second-round pick and a player for Marshall, the Broncos may think that is worth it. In the end, Denver will want value for Marshall.

If he were to stay in Denver in 2010, Marshall would be set to become a free agent in 2011, assuming there will be football played that season. Marshall would surely leave Denver next year unless he got a new, huge contract.

I know the Broncos are reluctant to commit to Marshall long-term because of his off-field problems. Also, Denver was fed up with Marshall after a turbulent 2009 season that featured a trade demand, a summer suspension and a benching in the final game of the season.

Denver has to be ready to move on. So I don’t expect this first-round demand to be a deal-breaker.

Seattle is the only team to show interest in Marshall so far. It has visited with Marshall, but the Seahawks aren’t expected to offer one of their two first-round picks for the receiver. Still, expect Seattle to get creative with its offer if it decides to make a pitch for Marshall. Denver’s best hope for a first-round pick is if there is a bidding war for Marshall.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter has reported that Cincinnati could make a play for Marshall. Other teams such as Miami, New England and the Jets could potentially get involved. More interest could mean higher compensation.

If that’s the case, perhaps the Broncos will get that first-round pick. But in the end, expect Marshall to leave Denver, first-round pick or not.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN San Francisco 49ers reporter

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