The jury is still out on where Denver Broncos' star receiver Brandon Marshall will be playing in 2010, but each passing day is building towards more of a certainty that it won't be in Denver.
Recent reports suggest something that most of us already either assumed or knew; that Brandon Marshall and head coach Josh McDaniels simply can't co-exist.
Regardless of which NFL trade rumors" target="_blank">NFL trade rumors are true about Marshall, McDaniels, or the Denver Broncos, it's our job as fans (and writers) to take each new tid-bit with a grain of salt, but at that same time, to speculate the hell out of it.
Marshall is currently tendered at a first-round draft pick, and as a restricted free agent, can either be signed (and then the team that signs him gives up their first draft choice), or a team could try negotiating a deal with the Broncos.
Read on for the current top three potential suitors for Marshall:
Note: The Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets had previously been solid candidates to land Marshall, but after both teams landed star receivers (Anquan Boldin and Santonio Holmes, respectively), they appear to be out of the sweepstakes.
The Decent Possibilities
Seattle has been unwilling up until this point to part with either of their two first-round draft picks, but it's possible their stance is weakening.
The rumor is that there is almost no way they'd even consider unloading their first pick (sixth), but could discuss letting go their second pick in the first-round (14th).
Denver could also weaken it's own stance on their asking-price for Marshall, and it's possible by the NFL Draft that Marshall could be had for a second-round pick, or a package including a second-round pick.
The Seahawks stick as the front-runner because of their two first-round picks, but also because they could really use the upgrade of talent at receiver.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh ended up being a free agent bust in 2009, Nate Burleson jumped ship for Detroit, and Deion Branch is dead weight.
Even if they're stuck with Branch's contract, landing Marshall would immediately make their receiving corps better, and give either Matt Hasselbeck or Charlie Whitehurst a fighting chance behind a shaky offensive line.
Mike Shanahan is the guy who drafted Brandon Marshall, so you know he's licking his lips over the possibility of landing Donovan McNabb a true threat at receiver.
The Redskins only have Santana Moss as a reliable receiver, and with just one 1,000-yard season in his past four seasons, even he isn't the most dependable guy in the world.
They have Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly as trading pieces, too, so if they trade down in the first-round, or even get Denver to accept their fourth spot in the second round, they could quickly become the front-runners here.
Chicago doesn't have much of a chance at landing Marshall, but with more explosive pass offense coming into town with Mike Martz, the Bears are likely at least pondering ways to get better at receiver.
Add Jay Cutler's certain desire to have Marshall in his offense again, as well as the fact that Denver and Chicago made a huge trade happen last season, and this team can't be held out of the running.
They really would only have a chance if they shipped off one or two defensive players, and would still certainly be letting go of their second, and probably even third-round draft picks.
The Crazy Calls
Kansas City Chiefs
It sounds crazy, but it could work. Josh McDaniels knows Scott Pioli, and the Chiefs definitely could use some help at receiver.
It's a real "out there" call, but if Kansas City is close to giving up on Matt Cassel, he could quickly become dangling trade bait, and depending on how McDaniels feels about the recently-aquired Brady Quinn, he could take a second stab at landing his former wunderkind Cassel.
Denver could receive last year's problem child, Dwayne Bowe, or revitalized veteran Chris Chambers as part of a package deal. Quinn or Kyle Orton would likely be on their way out if this went down.
Oakland just drafted Louis Murphy and Darrius Heyward-Bey last year, and also just got done ridding themselves of Javon Walker.
Why would they even think about pulling this trade?
Well, because they're still run by Al Davis, and while they could get a number of studs with their first-round selection, even they know it'd be much safer to trade that pick for Marshall than to trust their judgment on a "measureables-ridden" rookie.
The Raiders could use some certainty at receiver, and dropping one of their current top-three receivers would be a small price for landing one of the game's best receivers.
San Francisco 49ers
Considering they have two first-round picks, and they could use another starting receiver, the 49ers actually have to be better candidates for landing Marshall than you'd think.
Sure, they could attack their offensive line and secondary, but with heavy rumors that they're interested in adding help at running back to take the load off of Frank Gore , then why wouldn't they be interested in rounding out Alex Smith's offensive weapons?
The 49ers could draft Earl Thomas or Trent Williams with the 13th pick, and then send the 17th pick and a mid-round pick to Denver for Marshall and one of Denver's back-up running backs, answering two questions at once.
It's a long-shot, especially given that Mike Singletary will at least hesitate in bringing in a potential distraction, but it's something for 49ers' fans to think about.
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