By: ZacF | March 8, 2017 | 11:45PM (PST)
The Giants did not waste any time in pre-free agency or as the NFL officially likes to call it the “Legal Tampering” period leading up to Thursday’s official start to this year’s NFL Free Agency. On Wednesday, the Giants announced the signing of veteran WR Brandon Marshall to a 2 year, $12mm contract. Marshall has played on 4 other teams since joining the league as a 4th round pick by the Denver Broncos in 2006. Despite having a subpar 2016 for the NY Jets, I feel this signing will be a beneficial pairing for both Marshall and the Giants. Here are my 3 thoughts:
1.) The Giants needed a true outside receiving threat
The journey of Victor Cruz overcoming numerous injuries to work his way back onto the field excited Giants fans entering last season, but many of us knew what we ultimately witnessed: Cruz was not successful lining up as an outside WR. With the addition of Marshall taking the place of Cruz this upcoming season, the Giants finally have a big target that Eli hasn’t had the luxury of throwing to in quite some time. At 6-foot-4, 230 pds, Marshall is 4 inches taller than Odell Beckham Jr and 5 inches taller than Sterling Shepard. Sure Eli has had other larger WR’s in recent memory (think Corey Washington), however Marshall will give the Giants a weapon, especially in the red zone, that Eli probably hasn’t had since Plaice Burress was last on the team in 2008. In fact, no active player has more touchdown catches in the last decade than Brandon Marshall. And interestingly enough, Trey Wingo tweeted out this interesting fact about both OBJ and Marshall:
2.) Brandon Marshall will open up the field entirely for Eli Manning
The largest issue I had with the Giants offense last year wasn’t the fact that they kept trotting out the same Ace formation (3 WR sets) play after play after play. My issue had more to do with the inability for Ben McAdoo to realize that the size of the field shrunk at times when the Giants offense was on the field. What I mean by this is that-because of the lack of a true pass catching TE to exploit the middle of the field, the ineffectiveness of Victor Cruz to create any separation on the outside, the defense committing to double teaming Odell Beckham Jr wherever he lined up, and a poor offensive line that gave Manning no time- the Giants offense regressed noticeably. How Marshall will impact the offense immediately in 2017 is that defenses won’t be able to just roll coverage over to OBJ’s side all the time anymore. This will then create more opportunities not only for Beckham, but also for Sterling Shepard who will be able to work the middle of the field from the slot position. Keeping the defense on their toes with the constant threat of the pass will also help impact the running game in that the Giants should see more Nickel and Dime coverages and less run stopping bodies. If the Giants can address their offensive line this offseason and provide Manning protection to go through his progressions while also allowing time for his receivers to run full routes, we could see this offense like never before.
3.) The Giants need to win now
At 36 years old, Eli Manning’s most productive years will slowly be coming to an end. Exactly how much longer that may be is anyone’s guess but the urgency to win now is becoming ever more apparent by the decisions the Giants brass are making. In 2016, the Giants turned most of their attention on addresing the defensive side of the ball. With over $55 million in cap space, Jerry Reese made one home run decision after another such as resigning Jason Pierre Paul, and then bringing in Olivier Vernon, Janoris Jenkins, & Snacks Harrison. By keeping Steve Spagnuolo on staff as the DC, the Giants were able to turn an abysmal defense bottom feeding defense into a playoff contender almost overnight. This year the Giants don’t have the luxury of a large amount of cap room heading into this free agency, but with Marshall signing of a prudent 2 year/ $12 million dollar contract, this will allow the team to quickly turn their attention on the offensive line and addressing other needs on all sides of the ball.
With the signing of Marshall, I’m interested to see how all this all plays out. What I do know is that at age 33, Marshall also realizes his window of opportunity is coming to a close and as decorated a WR as he has been these past 11 seasons, having zero playoff appearances to show for his efforts is one Marshall will look to erase with the Giants. If his priorities and motivations are aligned the same as the Ben McAdoo’s and the entire organization, this is something we as fans will gladly look back upon as the 1st piece to building a contender for the 2017 season.