Broncos’ Marshall plan not easy to translate

Just sitting around, waiting for the Brandon Marshall situation to resolve itself one way or the other, thus allowing the Denver Broncos — and the rest of us NFL freaks — to get on with their lives.

Marshall is a restricted free agent and the Broncos have him for a relative pittance next year unless some team offers them a first-round draft choice and they decide the draft choice would be a better option than the receiver. There is also the chance that Denver doesn’t have anyone bite on acquiring Marshall for a first-round pick and later works out another type of deal, the ever-popular combination of mid-round picks and/or a veteran who is on the downside of a career.

Question is, can Josh McDaniels and his staff live with Marshall — who caught an NFL-record 21 passes in one game last season and has three consecutive seasons of 100-plus catches — or would they rather live without him?

I think the answer to that question is rather obvious given the fact that McDaniels benched Marshall on the final game of the 2009 regular season, a game the Broncos had to win to possibly qualify for a playoff spot.

If McDaniels didn’t think Marshall was a necessity then, why would he think he is essential now?

One other factor to ponder is Marshall’s tumultuous past, which could — with only one more minor transgression — land him on NFL-mandated suspension for a huge chunk of time.

Let’s assume Denver parts with Marshall.

Popular thinking in most mock drafts has Denver, which has the No. 11 choice, taking Dez Bryant, the Oklahoma State junior who opted for early entry in the April 22-24 draft.

Bryant is 6-foot-3 and weighs 225 pounds. He is reportedly fast enough to get deep, physical to the point of being able to come down with most of the “jump balls” and can break tackles and ramble far and wide after the catch. He is a virtual clone of Marshall (he’s also been compared to Detroit’s Calvin Johnson, certainly not a bad thing).

Word of warning, however: Bryant may be a Marshall clone in more ways than one.

He was suspended for the final 10 games of the 2009 season for lying to an NCAA investigator who was looking into Bryant’s relationship with former NFL star Deion Sanders. A variety of scouting reports also say Bryant’s focus drops off at times and he comes with emotional baggage.

Suffice to say, if McDaniels and his staff are going to get rid of Marshall and try to replace him with Bryant, they will have checked out the Oklahoma State star inside and out. By the time the draft rolls around, they will know whether the young receiver will fit in with the team concept McDaniels preaches, or not.

If the Broncos decide Bryant is the answer, you can mark him down in Denver’s starting lineup the day of the draft.

The ideal scenario for the Broncos is to obtain Washington’s No. 4 overall pick for Marshall, with new Redskins coach Mike Shanahan the guy who drafted Marshall and the guy who helped turn him into a star.

While we’re wishing and hoping, next up would be Seattle’s No. 6 overall pick. The Seahawks brought Marshall to the great Northwest last week and are thinking about their possible strategy as we speak.

The Seahawks also own the 14th pick, ironically Denver’s pick that turned into corner/benchwarmer Alphonso Smith. Would the Seahawks, failing to give Denver a No. 6, give the Broncos the 14th pick? That would seem more likely.

Washington and Seattle certainly aren’t the only teams who are looking at Marshall. The 49ers, who own the 13th and 17th picks, Cincinnati (No. 21), Baltimore (No. 25) and the Jets (No. 29) have also expressed interest in obtaining wide receivers and could think about giving up a first-round pick for the Denver star.

If Denver somehow comes up with another first-round selection, they could them opt for more defensive beef in the form of inside linebacker Rolando McClain of Alabama or defensive tackles Brian Price of UCLA or Dan Williams of Tennessee.

Right now, I’m thinking, McDaniels and General Manager Brian Xanders are sitting and waiting, hoping some team takes the bait and gives up a first-round pick for their Pro Bowl wide receiver. Failing that, it will be time to make another decision: Do they ride Marshall for another year then lose him for nothing, or do they dump him for an assortment of mid-round picks?

Bronco Nation is watching with interest, hoping for the best.


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