WASHINGTON — The New York Giants have agreed to a two-year, $12 million deal with free agent receiver Brandon Marshall.
The Giants now boast a receiving corps of Marshall, Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard, easily one of the top trios in the league. Perhaps no team can realistically challenge them as far as offensive firepower, though they could still use an upgrade at running back, and this is coming on the heels of a massive spending spree on the defensive side of the ball almost a year ago.
Marshall has played each of his past two seasons with the New York Jets, so he won’t have much moving to do. Previous to his stint with the Jets, he played with the Chicago Bears (2012-2014), the Miami Dolphins (2010-2011) and the Denver Broncos (2006-2009).
Despite failing to reach 800 yards in two of the past three seasons, Marshall has topped 1,000 yards in eight of his past 10 seasons, and he has four double-digit touchdown seasons in his career (2009, 2012, 2013, 2015). He was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015, and he was a first-team All-Pro in 2012.
Though he turns 33 on March 23, Marshall, at 6-foot-4 and 229 pounds, provides a huge third target for Eli Manning, who has not struggled to produce offense with the likes of Beckham and Shepard. Beckham caught 101 passes for 1,367 yards and 10 touchdowns last season, while Shepard was good for 65 catches, 683 yards and 8 touchdowns in his rookie season. Victor Cruz (39 catches, 586 yards, 1 touchdown) and Will Tye (48 catches, 395 yards, 1 touchdown) each contributed as a third receiver, but neither is anywhere near as reliable as Marshall.
For the Redskins, who desperately need help in pass coverage after Bashaud Breeland struggled and Josh Norman was the only consistently effective player in the secondary, this is a problem. Norman will spend much of his Redskins career chasing Beckham around the field, but with a pair of stellar receivers on the field at the same time, the Giants can use Beckham as a distraction while Shepard and Marshall wreak havoc on the defense.
In four career games against the Redskins, Marshall has 25 catches for 418 yards and 3 touchdowns; put another way, he averages 6 catches and 104 yards per game against Washington, and there’s a 75 percent chance he scores a touchdown.
Additionally, reports emerged Wednesday morning that the Giants were working to restructure the contract of Dwayne Harris.
Harris was signed primarily for his special teams prowess. Though he is technically a receiver, he had just one catch last season, and he’s had fewer than 10 catches in three of his five seasons. However, he has one career punt return for a touchdown against the Redskins, and he’s returned 26 punts for 318 yards against Washington over his career. He’s also returned 15 kicks for 380 yards, and he has generally been a pain for Washington’s special teams units.
If the Giants can improve their offensive line and bring in reinforcements at running back, they suddenly look very dangerous in 2017.