The Cowboys rolled to a surprising NFC East title last season by building their offense around a dominant run game. The rival Giants continue to go a different route.
Newsday reported Wednesday that New York has reached a two-year deal with free-agent wide receiver Brandon Marshall, adding the veteran to a group that already includes Odell Beckham Jr., and Sterling Shepard. Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Marshall’s deal will be worth $12 million over the next two seasons.
The Jets released Marshall last week on the heels of a 59-catch season—Marshall’s worst since his rookie year of 2006. (Because of that release, Marshall is free to sign with the Giants before free agency opens Thursday.) Two years ago, though, Marshall posted 109 receptions for 1,504 yards and a league-high 14 touchdowns. The Giants, obviously, are banking on the soon-to-be 33-year-old Marshall having a bit more of that magic left in the tank.
It almost goes without saying that this is a win-now type of move by the Giants. They finished last year 11–5 and claimed a wild-card berth, losing to the Packers in the opening round of the playoffs. More to the point, Eli Manning turned 36 last month, so New York’s window with Manning under center is slowly closing.
The Marshall addition should take some of the pressure off Beckham, whose 1,367 yards last season doubled the next most productive Giants receiver (Shepard, 683 yards). The No. 3 player on that list was Victor Cruz (586 yards), whom the Giants recently released.
Marshall will fill an outside role, likely with Beckham on the opposite side of the field and Shepard in the slot—the Giants do move Beckham inside, on occasion. No matter the setup, it’s a formidable group of weapons for Manning to throw to.
Next up for the Giants will be repairing their porous offensive line and establishing some balance via the run game. They may not be able to reach Ezekiel Elliott levels of production, but last season’s ground attack was nonexistent. New York ranked 29th in rushing yards and 30th in yards per carry (3.5).
TBD: How Marshall and Beckham will coexist. Both have notoriously fiery and ultra-competitive personalities. Will they be willing to defer to one another in the passing game? What happens if the Giants’ offense skids at some point during the 2017 season?
The potential rewards should outweigh the risks. Beckham is a top-five receiver in the NFL, and Marshall remains a physical presence with a long history of production. Especially at what looks like a depressed price tag, the Giants landed a significant piece in their new receiver.