Brandon Marshall has been in the NFL for 11 years. He's accomplished a lot in that time. He has caught 939 passes for 12,039 yards and 82 touchdowns. He's caught at least 100 passes in six different seasons. He's led the league in touchdowns. He's been to six Pro Bowls. He's been named an All-Pro twice, once on the first team and once on the second.
But he has never been to the playoffs.
For that reason, Marshall told the New York Daily News, he might consider joining the New England Patriots, if the opportunity were presented to him. "That's intriguing, but that wouldn't be my team," Marshall said. "I would be a rental player."
Marshall has a year remaining on his three-year, $26 million contract, but none of the $7.5 million salary due to him is guaranteed. With the Jets so far away from contention, it seems entirely plausible that they elect to cut ties with the soon-to-be 33-year old receiver this offseason and elect to use that $7.5 million on younger players that might grow with whatever the team's new core winds up being.
At that point, Marshall would be free to choose his next home. And making the playoffs is a "top priority, I would say, over anything," Marshall said. "But there's two things that make it really difficult. One, I love it here. And two, I don't want to be a rental player for anyone. So, I don't want to jump ship and take the easy route and go somewhere where I'm just a rental cop for a year or two and I'm not a core guy. I want to do it being a big part of the puzzle."
The Patriots have been known to sign players of Marshall's stature late in their careers, but they mostly do so on one-year deals because they don't like to commit to using their cap space on older players that might soon be ineffective. Marshall was excellent as recently as last season, but his play has taken a downward turn this year. Much of that is due to Ryan Fitzpatrick's regression to the mean, though, so we don't know if Marshall's skill level has actually eroded.
In any case, he'd make for an interesting fit in New England, if he wound up there. Most of the Patriots' receivers are of the smaller, shiftier variety, and they haven't had a big possession wideout in Marshall's mold in quite some time. Their big (in terms of body size) playmakers are their tight ends -- Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett. Adding Marshall to the mix would almost be unfair to defenses -- given how well Tom Brady typically works with that type of player -- especially if the down-tick in his performance this season is more due to Fitzpatrick than to Marshall himself.