First things first—this story is still developing.
With that having been said, I don't think that there is anyone, especially those who call Denver their home team, who doesn't view the recent demand by Brandon Marshall to be traded as a retread of a very bad nightmare.
A nightmare that ended with Jay Cutler wearing Chicago Bear colors.
It doesn't look like we're done talking about the Jay Cutler situation yet. You see, there can be no discussion of the Brandon Marshall trade demand without mentioning Jay Cutler's. While the reasons for the trade request may be slightly different—Brandon Marshall reportedly wants a new contract—the result will be same for the Broncos if he is allowed to saddle up and ride out of Denver like Jay Cutler.
Broncos brass will be hard pressed to explain letting two of the top contributors to their second-ranked offense of a year ago get away in the same offseason. Two Pro Bowlers, no less. McDaniels made light of the contributions that Jay Cutler made to that offense, implying that he could pretty much put any quarterback into his system and they would be successful (That of course, remains to be seen. I didn't buy it then, and I don't buy it now).
Apparently, working with Tom Brady inflated his sense of what he could do with a quarterback who was not Tom Brady. While Matt Cassel had a solid season filling in for the injured Brady, I am still not ready to use last season as any type of indicator of McDaniel's abilities. Not yet. One season does not make a superstar.
So let the debate begin anew. It's deja vu, folks. Should Denver give in to Marshall's request? Should they force him to stay and honor his contract? Should Marshall just "be a man" and suck it up, be quiet and just do his job? Stop whining? And so on—we've heard it all before.
Here's the thing—Brandon Marshall does not figure to have the same kind of numbers that he had the previous two seasons with Kyle Orton under center. The last two seasons he had 2,590 receiving yards, which ranked third in NFL behind only Reggie Wayne and Larry Fitzgerald. That's some quality company. There is some sentiment that now is the best time for him to go for a new contract; not next year when his numbers may be lower.
Let's not forget his considerable off the field issues as well. Certainly, they make a long-term extension a gamble for the Broncos. But aren't all contracts something of a gamble? No one has a crystal ball that will tell exactly how well a player will perform. All we really have are indicators—and the expectation that the new season will be an improvement on the previous one. At the very least, there is the expectation of more of the same.
Whether or not Marshall is worth the Broncos taking that gamble, there is no doubt that his leaving the Broncos could have potentially devastating implications for the team this season. Team leadership played it loosely with Jay Cutler, and, by and large, received a free pass for doing so with the fans and from a PR perspective.
Don't expect the same latitude if Marshall gets his wish. At some point, you have to wonder who is running the asylum.
At what point does leadership reign in McDaniels and remind him that regardless of how good you are (or think you are), you cannot win without high-caliber players in this league? At some point, the hard line has to bend. Will they give Marshall the contract that he has proved he deserves? Or will they take their chances (again) and let him walk?
Deja vu all over again.
Let's hope for Denver's sake, that they learn from the mistakes they made with the Jay Cutler situation, and make a call that not only Brandon Marshall can live with, but Denver fans as well.