NFL: Dolphins expect Brandon Marshall to boost receiving corps
By Jeff Darlington
MIAMI — Sporting a crisp, black Florida Marlins baseball cap as he exited a Fort Lauderdale doctor's office Wednesday, wide receiver Brandon Marshall had just passed the physical that would help finalize his trade to the Miami Dolphins.
His smile beaming, he rode shotgun to the team's facility in Davie, where he would ink the largest contract ever awarded to a wide receiver in NFL history. He then would attend a Miami Heat home game, where he already arranged for courtside seats.
Less than 12 hours after the Dolphins agreed to give up two second-round picks to the Broncos for one of the league's best young players, Marshall already felt at home.
"This is home for me," Marshall, 26, told The Miami Herald. "I'm right up the road from Orlando. I'm a Florida boy."
The Dolphins' decision to bring Marshall back to his state sent a shock wave through the NFL on Wednesday, reshaping an offense that no longer lacks big-play ability.
Marshall, who signed a deal worth $50 million through five seasons (with $24 million guaranteed), must now prove that his impact will be felt solely on the field. During four seasons in Denver, he was a perennial distraction with a list of legal troubles.
Dolphins wide receiver Greg Camarillo said he believes the Dolphins will be a better team with Marshall — but he also hopes the star brings with him a mentality that meshes with the corps' current team-first mentality.
"Anytime you bring in a proven talent, you instantly get better," Camarillo said. "He has proven he can be dominant. I don't know Brandon Marshall, but I hope he brings our same mentality. I hope he's a team-oriented guy."
No one knows whether Marshall will prove more responsible than the person who has been charged with DUI and suspicion of domestic violence in the past.
But many, including Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland and vice president of football operations Bill Parcells, are confident Marshall will allow players around him to reach their potential, particularly third-year quarterback Chad Henne.
That's why they were willing to give up a second-round pick in next week's draft — and another in 2011 — to get him. Marshall, at 6-4, 230 pounds, fits the size and skill set Miami treasures in a receiver.
During the past three seasons (Marshall has been in the league four years), only Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker has more catches. During that same span, only five other wide receivers — including Larry Fitzgerald and Randy Moss — have had more yards.
So why would the Broncos be interested in trading him? A few reasons.
For one, during training camp last year, Marshall was suspended for insubordination after he threw fits during practice as a result of his displeasure with the Denver Broncos medical staff for what he believed was a misdiagnosis of a hip injury.
He also wasn't happy with his contract, and was later suspended for the final game of the season for being late to a treatment of a hamstring injury that coach Josh McDaniels publicly questioned.
Despite all of that, Marshall still managed to catch 101 passes for 1,120 yards to make the second Pro Bowl of his career.
"I think we worked it the best way that we could so that all of us kind of got what we were looking for," McDaniels told The Denver Post on Wednesday. "I'm pleased with the way the whole thing went down."
The Broncos did get solid compensation — but they lost their best offensive weapon. And the Dolphins did get their answer at wide receiver — but they also gave up a pair of valuable draft picks and a hefty contract for a controversial star.
Whatever the pros and the cons, the Dolphins can focus on filling needs at safety, nose tackle, outside linebacker and guard in next week's NFL Draft.
On Wednesday, though, no position seemed to matter more than the one Marshall will play next season. The Dolphins added a major weapon. And everyone took notice.
"I'd like to welcome my new teammate to Miami," wide receiver Brian Hartline said on his Twitter account Wednesday. "Big things happenin' down here in the MIA."