In one of the more stunning twists of the early free agency period, former Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall has jumped across town to join the New York Giants, a source told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.
The development was first reported by Newsday. According to Rapoport, the two-year deal is worth $12 million. Marshall was slated to make $7.5 million with the Jets this year before his release last week. The Giants later confirmed the signing.
“I think it’s the perfect situation for me,” Marshall said in a release sent out by the Giants. “There’s a stability in ownership. Since I’ve been in New York, all I’ve heard is amazing things about how well-run this organization is. Now I can understand why everybody holds the Giants organization so high.”
The move represents the best of all worlds for Marshall, who can remain in the city that he loves and continue to work for Showtime as a correspondent for Inside the NFL. Moreover, it represents Marshall’s best chance to reach the playoffs for the first time in his career. The Giants also get a premier wide receiver with some gas left in the tank at a fantastic market value. After having spent lavishly in free agency in two of the last three springs, general manager Jerry Reese knew he had to be frugal but still make an impact.
The Giants now unquestionably pose the greatest three-headed pass catching threat in the division, pairing the six-time Pro Bowler with the dynamic Odell Beckham and promising Sterling Shepard. Marshall’s above-average strength should also aid the struggling Eli Manning jersey, who has a massive target that can control defensive backs within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage especially well.
“I know my number one job is to take pressure off the other receivers by doing my job and being a great receiver,” Marshall said. “I think that naturally will happen as far as being able to be that older guy in the room where they can learn from my history and my experiences. There is a lot that they can pull from. Hopefully, we’ll learn from each other.”
The signing represents a significant departure for Giants head coach Ben McAdoo, who, until now, was stockpiling the team with wide receivers similar to the ones he dealt with in Green Bay. But after the release of Victor Cruz earlier this offseason, it was clear more change was on the way.
The question now is how this works inside the locker room. Marshall is a sage veteran who is not afraid of dispensing advice and telling the truth. In the best-case scenario, his presence irons out the perceived wrinkles in Beckham’s personality and pairs the budding superstar with the wise old man he has yet to work with. The Giants do not want to consider the worst-case scenario.
Smith, 26, tore his ACL midway through the season last year after Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was benched by coach Todd Bowles. Rapoport recently sat down with Smith, who said he’s five months into a six-to-eight month recovery process, but is on schedule to be a full participant in training camp. Smith passed a physical before signing with the Giants, Rapoport reported.
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This is a regular part of the Giants’ modus operandi during the spring, when they often bring in potentially high-upside backup quarterbacks to compete for the coveted No. 2 slot behind the unbreakable Eli Manning. A few years back, the Giants rustled up former Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman to push then-backup Ryan Nassib. Now, it is between Smith and Josh Johnson, who inked a two-year deal with the Giants on Friday.
Smith’s road is still a tough one from here. With 30 starts under his belt, a high-profile locker room incident and a series of poor performances behind him, Smith might be considered an underdog to hang on with the Giants. He is coming off a significant knee injury and will have to rely on the knee being at near full strength for summer workouts with limited reps. His name had been bandied about on the quarterback carousel for quite some time this offseason.
So it goes for Smith, who has logged a career’s worth of hardships in just a few short seasons. The Giants hope he was just getting it all out of the way first.