With Kyle Orton's perceived top target looking more like he wants to play elsewhere, the Denver Broncos brought in a guy who looked like he was on his way to being Orton's top target last season.
Denver reeled in Brandon Lloyd, signing him to a contract Monday afternoon. He's no replacement for Pro Bowl performer Brandon Marshall, but he gives the Broncos someone Orton is familiar with heading toward training camp. Lloyd jumped out last summer in the preseason game at Seattle when Orton went to him repeatedly in the two-minute offense. They continued to work well together through the first four games of the regular season when Lloyd was easily the club's leading receiver. But a minor knee injury in Week 4 put him on the shelf and whatever chemistry they had together fizzled before Lloyd returned six weeks later. It came as a surprise to no one when Lloyd exited at the end of the season after his one-year deal expired.
What also didn't come as a surprise was the report out of Denver earlier today that Marshall told Broncos owner Pat Bowlen "I think I'd like to be traded."
Sound familiar? Star player wants out of the Mile High City? Unlike Jay Cutler, Marshall's beef is over money. He boycotted the team's mandatory minicamp over the weekend, and has been a no-show for voluntary OTA's. It's not that Marshall would have been on the field. He is still recovering from April 1 surgery to his hip.
When there is news of a disgruntled star wide receiver, the idea that he could come to the Bears isn't far behind. It will be that way from now until the Bears land a No. 1 wide receiver. In fact, the idea of Marshall has been floating around since, oh, about a half-hour after the Bears dealt for Cutler on April 2. If you think Cutler has a rapport with Earl Bennett, that's nothing compared to how he worked with Marshall. The Broncos would be hard-pressed to justify dealing Marshall, but no one thought they were actually going to cut ties with Cutler. You don't have to read between the lines with coach Josh McDaniels. He wants Marshall.
"All we can say about this is we're going to do everything we can to reconcile the situation so that Brandon returns to the field," McDaniels said. "Until then, we're going to concentrate on the players that are here."
Marshall is set to enter his fourth year in the league and the final year of his contract. That doesn't mean he's destined to become an unrestricted free agent after the season. First, if there is no CBA extension, Marshall will be a restricted free agent in 2010. Second, the Broncos would be foolish not to place the franchise tag on him if he is headed toward the open market. Julius Peppers wanted out of Carolina. That doesn't mean the Panthers wanted to see him go. They tagged him. Denver isn't going to let Marshall walk away for nothing.
The Bears have at least pondered the idea of pursuing Plaxico Burress, who has legal troubles in New York. Burress took an unlicensed, loaded handgun into a Manhattan night club last November and shot a hole in his leg. Marshall was the recent subject of an ESPN special, and his off-field legal woes were at the center of the piece. He's been accused of domestic battery on multiple occasions. He's been busted for DUI. Last summer, the Rocky Mountain News reported police had been summoned to Marshall's home on nearly a dozen occasions. He has a pending misdemeanor battery case in Atlanta that is expected to be heard in court in August. In college, he was charged with assaulting a law enforcement officer. Far from a legal issue but certainly an off-field incident worth exploring ... it was 15 months ago that Marshall offered one of the all-time explanations for an injury--he slipped on a McDonald's bag while wrestling with family members and fell through a television, cutting his right forearm. It would be short-sighted to ignore the issue. Marshall said he played last season even though his right hand was numb.
Burress, before he ever gets to court, is guilty of a stupid, stupid decision that could have injured or killed someone else. Marshall's track record seems to be that he's trouble waiting to happen.
We doubt the Broncos will consider shipping away Marshall, but we'll readily admit we never thought Cutler would be able to change his zip code to 60045.