Brandon Marshall wanted the chance to make a Super Bowl run. And now he’s got a quarterback who can pull it off.
Less than a week after the Jets granted his request to be released, the veteran wide receiver found a new NFL home — conveniently located in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
After wearing green and white the past two seasons, Marshall has agreed to terms on a two-year, $12 million deal to join Eli Manning and the Giants, sources told Newsday.
Marshall is the second Jets free agent to recently join the crosstown rivals. Nose tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison left in free agency last offseason, signing a five-year, $46.25 million deal with the Giants.
Marshall, who turns 33 on March 23, now is on his fifth team in 12 seasons. Since being selected in the fourth round of the 2006 draft by the Denver Broncos, he’s had brief stops in Miami, Chicago and Florham Park, New Jersey. But this time, Marshall won’t have to relocate very far. Plus, the Giants boast everything the Jets don’t have: a two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback, a top-five defense and one of the most talented No. 1 receivers in the game in Odell Beckham, Jr.
“I’m tired of watching the playoffs on my couch,” Marshall said in January after the Jets finished 5-11 and failed to make the postseason for a sixth straight season.
At the time, the veteran wideout said he’d “probably play until I’m 38, 39.” But he made it known his more pressing goal was to play for a Super Bowl contender. And now, he has a chance to make a postseason run, or better.
The Giants — who bested Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in Super Bowls XLII and XLVI — ended their five-year playoff drought in 2016 thanks to Manning and Beckham. But they lost to the Green Bay Packers, 38-13, in an NFC wild-card game.
Playing for Ben McAdoo’s team also ensures that Marshall will be able to remain in New York, where he tapes his weekly appearance on Showtime’s “Inside the NFL.”
The Jets’ plan all along was to rebuild the roster by releasing high-priced veterans this offseason, including star cornerback Darrelle Revis and longtime center Nick Mangold. But all the while, the front office viewed Marshall as part of its future in 2017. According to a source, the two sides discussed a contract extension before the 2016 season and later revisited the topic midway through the year. But even though the Jets had hoped to retain Marshall in 2017, in the end, the organization allowed him to find “a better fit,” as Newsday reported last week.
Meanwhile, the Jets’ roster remains in flux as the organization looks to fill holes left by big-name departures through free agency and the NFL draft. Marshall’s release saved the Jets $7.5 million in salary-cap space, though he’ll count $1.875 million against the cap in dead money.
After trading for the former Chicago Bear in March 2015, the Jets seemed poised for a playoff run in Marshall’s first season. That year, he set franchise records for receiving yards (1,502), catches (109) and touchdowns (14) in 2015, while setting a single-season record with 10 100-yard games and earning his sixth Pro Bowl selection. But the Jets’ playoff hopes were dashed when then-quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and the offense self-destructed against the Buffalo Bills in a season-finale game with playoff implications.
And things only got worse from there. A tougher schedule, mediocre quarterback play and mounting injuries derailed the Jets’ hopes of a successful 2016 season. Marshall’s production also plummeted: 59 catches for 788 yards and three TDs.