Daily Focus: Brandon Marshall deal a good move for Broncos
Editor’s note: Every day in “Daily Focus,” PFF analysts take the latest NFL news and translate what it really means for each team involved.
Brandon Marshall extension is a good deal for Broncos: While the Broncos are still working on an extension for Von Miller, the team reached an agreement with another of their linebackers, Brandon Marshall, whom Denver retained as a restricted free agent this offseason. The contract is worth $32 million over four years ($20 million guaranteed), which is a slight boost over what his former teammate and fellow inside linebacker Danny Trevathan received from Chicago in free agency.
The two graded similarly last season, with Marshall finishing just behind Trevathan in our player grades, ranking 12th to Trevathan’s 10th, although the former has the more impressive multi-season production, including above-average marks in both coverage and run defense.
Overall, this is a smart move for the Broncos to lock up one of their key producers in the front-seven, especially with the departures of Trevathan and Malik Jackson in free agency. Further, Marshall is just 26 years old and durable (2043 snaps played over 2014 and 2015 seasons).
Breshad Perriman will provide a boost to Baltimore’s receiving corps: There was a lot of news out of Baltimore on Tuesday, first regarding the team’s 2015 first-round draft pick, wide receiver Breshad Perriman. Despite undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery on Tuesday, he’ll reportedly be good to go for start of the regular season. That’s exciting news given Perriman spent his entire rookie season (and preseason) on the sideline due to injury.
He excelled as a deep threat during his final college season at UCF; only a handful of FBS receivers gained more yards on 20-plus-yard passes than Perriman’s 525, while his 2.50 yards per route run that season would have ranked sixth among NFL receivers in 2015.
That deep threat role is much-needed in Baltimore. Last season QB Joe Flacco’s production on deep passes dropped substantially after Torrey Smith’s departure in free agency to San Francisco. Flacco passed for just 444 yards on 43 deep attempts, both of which ranked 27th at the position. That’s down from an average of more than 78 deep passes per year from 2011-2014. A healthy Perriman should help there, along with Mike Wallace, who signed in free agency after a disappointing stint in Minnesota. Otherwise, the Ravens will be relying on Kamar Aiken, who finished with the 19th-best PFF grade among receivers last year, but only has one season of meaningful production under his belt, and a 37-year old Steve Smith returning from a torn Achilles.
Which teams should consider trading for Baltimore OT Eugene Monroe? The other news out of Ravens camp is that the team Baltimore is looking to trade left tackle Eugene Monroe and holding him out of practice, which likely means the starting left tackle job will belong to the team’s first-rounder, Ronnie Stanley out of Notre Dame. As we noted pre-draft, Stanley was one of the best pass protectors in this year’s class and is a solid fit for Baltimore’s outside-zone heavy run scheme. However, the struggles of recently drafted tackles should lower expectations somewhat – only one rookie tackle has finished with a positive overall grade in each of the last two seasons.
As for Monroe, he regressed in his last two seasons with the Ravens, finishing with the 58th-best overall grade in 2014 and managing just 319 snaps a year ago. But few players have played as well as Monroe did over his three-year peak from 2011 to 2013, and if he can regain that form, or something close to it, he could be a steal for whichever team gives him a shot.
Among the teams that could benefit include Carolina, after Michael Oher finished the season as the league’s lowest-graded run blocker, even though his pass protection was much improved. Among other teams that struggled at tackle last season are Tampa Bay, Seattle, San Diego, and the New York Giants. Seattle in particular could stand to give Monroe a look a shot given its current projected offensive line.
What Darren McFadden’s injury means for the Dallas backfield: Cowboys running back Darren McFadden will be out for a “couple months” with a broken elbow, according to head coach Jason Garrett. What impact will that have on the Cowboys’ rushing attack? Despite racking up the fourth-most rushing yards last season (1,089), McFadden finished with a negative rushing grade and was below-average in both yards gained after contact and tackles avoided. His injury likely won’t affect the projected workload of rookie No. 4 overall pick Ezekiel Elliott, but should mean a potential chance for former Redskin Alfred Morris as the team’s No. 2 back.
After finishing with PFF’s second-ranked rushing grade during his rookie year (2012), Morris saw a steady decline in both workload and production over his last three seasons in Washington. However, he still maintained above-average rushing grades each year, which can’t be said for McFadden. That should only improve moving to Dallas and rushing behind the league’s best offensive line, although it will likely still be tough to crack the lineup considering Elliott’s well-rounded skill set and the team’s investment in him.