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Could Brandon Marshall End Up with the Patriots Next Year?

NY Daily NewsBrandon Marshall’s surreal journey across the NFL cosmos must end in the only place that can guarantee what he deserves: He should be a New England Patriot in 2017.

Marshall’s 166-game resume has one glaring omission: He’s never made the playoffs.

The veteran wide receiver has the longest postseason drought of any active player, a stunning reality for one of this era’s biggest game-changers. Marshall is second in receiving yards and receptions and third in touchdown catches since entering the league in 2006. He is a matchup nightmare, a difference maker and a rare talent who hasn’t made it past 16 games in a calendar year.

Marshall, who will turn 33 this offseason, is scheduled to make $7.5 million in the final year of his contract in 2017. …

“That’s intriguing, but that wouldn’t be my team,” Marshall told the Daily News in a candid discussion about his future. “I would be a rental player.”

Is it March already? I mean, that’s the time we usually start in on the “elite wide receiver who’s never won anything comes to the Patriots” talk. Not when most of us are still waiting on the last of our Amazon shipments and looking for the Pats to lock up the 1-seed. But since the Jets are so downtrodden that in New York they’re already talking about shipping their best player to Foxboro like a Hebrew mother putting her baby in a basket on the Nile so he won’t have to suffer under the Pharoah? Fine. What the hell. I’ll play the game.

Sure, it’s only natural to look at Marshall’s skill set and production, imagine him running routes for Tom Brady and end up with a boner a cat couldn’t scratch. But I don’t see happening it for a lot of reasons.

First of all, $7.5 million to a wideout will never happen in New England. Not in this lifetime. I think the Patriots believe, like I do, that wide receiver is not just the most overrated, overpaid position in football, but in all of sports. And their draft record bears that out. In 17 drafts under Belichick, they’ve drafted a total of 15 receivers. Several of whom were either last round flyers like Jeremy Gallon and Devin Lucien, or pure special teamers like Matthew Slater. They wouldn’t blow up their salary structure for Marshall just because, philosophically, they just don’t value the position.

Nor should they. Quarterbacks make receivers, not the other way around. Consider the way the article calls him a “game-changer.” If he’s changing so many games, why has he never been to the playoffs before? Or why say, the ridiculously productive Calvin Johnson was in two playoff games. It’s because you just can’t affect a game all that much being targeted 8-12 times. Not the way a tight end can, blocking on every down and running patterns. The Patriots can always find another Chris Hogan and spend their money elsewhere.

Another reason why Marshall won’t work in New England is bad blood. Or have we forgotten this little insurrection he pulled on rookie head coach Josh McDaniels in 2009:

I like to think Belichick believes in second chances. But not nearly as much as I like to think he believes in holding onto grudges with both hands and never letting go. Marshall was a punk who undermined McDaniels’ career before he’d ever coached a game.

Finally, I just don’t think Marshall meets their “football is important to him” qualification. For Christ’s sake, he’s got a weekly gig on “Inside the NFL.” I’m not saying they expect all their players to be falling asleep with their playbooks on their noses every night. But this isn’t some contractually-obligated 10 minute call-in to the local sports radio show. That spot requires show prep that is time and effort taking away from game prep. Besides, how much go they want a guy who’s answering questions about where he’ll play in 2017 in the middle of 2016?

I’ll never say never. But Brandon Marshall would have to come crawling on his hands and knees, talking contrition, massive pay cuts and commitment to football if it’s ever going to happen.