Not only was 2017 the most disappointing season in the 93-year history of the New York Giants, but it was also the most disappointing season in the 12-year career of Brandon Marshall.
When the New York Giants acquired the 6-foot-5 Brandon Marshall last offseason, they thought he could give Eli Manning a tall, physical receiver that he hasn’t had since Plaxico Burress to be the missing piece to the Giants championship puzzle.
But instead, Marshall struggled mightily as he never quite got in sync with Manning and had numerous crucial drops in the first month of the season, particularly in the Giants’ Week 4 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (25-23).
Then in the Giants’ Week 5 loss to the Los Angles Chargers (27-22), he suffered an ankle injury that would require season-ending surgery.
He finished the season with 18 receptions for 154 yards and zero touchdowns, which were all career lows.
Based on the fact that he’s coming off the worst season of his career, plus the fact that he’ll turn 34 on March 23 and that the Giants can clear $5.2 million in cap space and incur just a $1 million dead money charge, most felt he would be cut early in the offseason.
The Giants also have a capable replacement to Marshall in Roger Lewis Jr. who had 36 receptions for 416 yards and two touchdowns last season.
Maybe he’s survived this far because general manager Dave Gettleman doesn’t believe the four and a half games Marshall played last season is a large enough sample size to prove that he’s over the hill. Or maybe Gettleman likes having a tall receiver on the roster. After all, Gettleman did draft the 6-foot-5 Kelvin Benjamin from Florida State in the first round of the 2014 draft when he was general manager of the Carolina Panthers.
Or perhaps the Giants might be keeping Marshall on the team in case contract negotiations with Odell Beckham Jr. go sour, and he looks to trade the Giants star receiver.
Marshall could still be cut later this offseason, but considering the Giants have already made their big offseason splashes in trading for linebacker Alec Ogletree and signing left tackle Nate Solder, at least for now it appears Marshall is in the Giants’ plans for 2018.
He may not be the player he used to be but he can still make valuable contributions to the Giants, especially when he’ll never go up against an opposing teams’ best cornerback.
He would be the fourth receiving option behind OBJ, Sterling Shepard, and tight end Evan Engram. Having someone the caliber of Marshall as a fourth receiving option is a luxury that all quarterbacks would want.
With Manning’s blindside being secure with the addition of Solder and with Gettleman continuing to address the offensive line in free agency and the draft, there’s no reason to believe that the Giants offense won’t be vastly better than it was a season ago when they averaged 15.3 points per game, ranking 31st in the NFL.
Despite finishing last season 3-13, Gettleman and head coach Pat Shurmur are clearly in “win now” mode, and keeping the six-time Pro Bowl receiver Marshall on the roster seems to give the Giants the best chance of winning, despite last season’s struggles.