Son of a gun. In another move that makes the AFC East the best division in the NFL, it seems the Miami Dolphins have made a trade to obtain WR Brandon Marshall from the Denver Broncos. Wow. It appears the Dolphins have just picked up their missing piece of the offensive puzzle just after the New York Jets polished off their offense.
The Dolphins have been looking for a true #1 receiver to pair up with quarterback Chad Henne, in order to give him a more lethal target than Tedd Ginn Jr. and Greg Camarillo. Mission success. Marshall is easily a top 5 WR in the league and with Chad Henne being considerably better than Kyle Orton, expect Marshall not to lose a step this upcoming season.
The cost doesn't seem like too much for a #1 receiver, especially when the acquisition fills the position of greatest need. Marshall was traded for the Dolphins 2010 and 2011 second round draft picks.
Marshall has been seen to some as a "locker room cancer" due to his prima donna attitude, but his skill cannot be denied. The AFC East seems to have picked up a lot of these characters lately, starting with Moss in '07, Terrell Owens and Braylon Edwards in '09, and now Santonio Holmes and Brandon Marshall in 2010. Moss, and arguably Edwards, have had success leaving their troubled pasts behind them, so it's not infeasible that both Holmes and Marshall transform into locker room players. I just wouldn't bet on Holmes.
Marshall, under Bill Parcells, will be forced to climb aboard the team boat and be a team player. I expect him to be what Owens was supposed to be- a player fixing their identify, who puts up All-Pro numbers. Expect Marshall to stay out of the media's attention by spitting out lines that Parcells feeds him, just like Owens was spouting last year.
While one could argue that both Holmes and Marshall are one year loans, due to each having one year remaining on their contracts, the fact remains that their respective teams would be in the front running to sign each player long term. I wouldn't be surprised if Marshall was signed to a long term deal after he passes his physical.
This deal absolutely affects the Patriots, their draft and this off-season. The Patriots are now forced to obtain a top CB in the draft, or afterwards, to counter these recent WR acquisitions. With the Jets playing Dustin Keller, Edwards, Holmes and Jerricho Cotchery and with the Dolphins sending out Marshall, Greg Camarillo and Davone Bess, our secondary needs a huge boost.
While Leigh Bodden will most likely be asked Marshall and Edwards, it's highly unlikely that he can cover them alone- no one in the league can cover them solo, save for possibly Jets CB Darelle Revis. I don't feel safe with Darius Butler or Shawn Springs squaring up against Holmes and Camarillo/Bess.
If Kyle Wilson somehow falls to us at 22, we might have to take a chance and grab him, despite other needs. Or, if we believe that improving our pass rush will make our secondary look better (which is what most Patriots fans have been saying for the past year), look for us to address DE and pass rush OLB with the first two picks and CB with one of the next.
However the Patriots deal with this blockbuster trade, there are two things you can be certain of:
1. The Patriots will do their best to adjust to these new circumstances with the remaining off-season, but don't expect them to break the bank to match their rivals.
2. The Buffalo Bills will be in the cellar for a long time.