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Dolphins “worried” about Marshall’s future, but won’t break ties with WR

Miami Dolphins’ Brandon Marshall (R) lets the ball slip from his hand for an incomplete pass as Tennessee Titans’ Cortland Finnegan defends during the third quarter of their NFL football game in Miami, Florida November 14, 2010. REUTERS/Hans Deryk (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

According to a report by the Miami Herald, the Dolphins are wary of Brandon Marshall’s ongoing off-field issues and are “worried about his future,” but not to the point of releasing him.

The Dolphins have to weigh Marshall’s long-term viability with the team because his history suggests trouble is coming again even if that trouble casts Marshall as a victim or a major player in the drama, as he was in the shooting death of former Denver teammate Darrent Williams.

The Dolphins, at this time, have no intention to break ties with Marshall, a source said Saturday. Miami reportedly has the option to break away from Marshall by not paying a $3 million option bonus that guarantees the player’s salary through 2012.

Not paying that bonus would let Marshall walk after only one season in Miami.

But the Dolphins today, right now, have no intention of releasing Marshall in that fashion. They will continue to gather facts about the latest incident and make plans based on those facts with the idea of keeping Marshall.

Yes, the team’s direction on the matter can change. But right now, the plan, written in sand rather than concrete, is to keep Marshall.

I wouldn’t expect that the Dolphins would release him after something like this. They knew what they were getting when they forked over two second round picks to acquire him from Denver, and then a $47.5 million contract. They knew of his past transgressions, including the fact that he had seven reported domestic violence incidents with his ex-girlfriend, and the fact that they weren’t acquiring a model citizen.

Marshall is trying to create a better image for himself, but this latest incident certainly won’t help. The elephant in the room is whether or not he provoked his wife to stab him. She claims she acted in self-defense, which isn’t shocking considering he has a history of allegedly putting his hands on women. (He claims he never laid a hand on his ex, but the police reports that she’s filed suggest otherwise.)

If Marshall’s wife did stab him because she was concerned for her life, then he and the Dolphins have a big problem here. I doubt he’ll be released either way, but now Miami feels the burden that Denver once did.

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Were the Dolphins wise to commit to Marshall long-term?

The Dolphins have been desperately searching for a true No. 1 wideout for the better part of the last decade. That’s why they ultimately decided to part with two second round picks in order to acquire Brandon Marshall from the Broncos on Wednesday, and why they broke out their checkbook to sign the receiver to a four-year, $47.5 million contract extension.

When Marshall is healthy and happy, there’s little doubt that he brings a lot to the field. At 6’4”, 230 pounds, he has great size and once he gets the ball in his hands, he’s a playmaker in every sense of the word. He’s drawn comparisons to Terrell Owens (in his prime), only it’s T.O. that wishes he had Marshall’s hands.

When he’s healthy and happy, Marshall is worth the money. But keeping him happy has proven to be difficult.

Miami did what they had to do. They had a major need at receiver, so they acquired the best one available and made sure they locked him up to a long-term contract. But there’s no doubt that the Dolphins are taking a huge risk by committing to a player that is about as well behaved as Pacman Jones inside a strip club with $10,000 in his back pocket. The hope for Bill Parcells and company is that Marshall will behave now that he has a long-term contract, but there’s no guarantee of that.

In comparison, the Packers signed Greg Jennings to a four-year, $26.9 million contract in June of 2009. Granted, Marshall is more talented and this is an uncapped year, but when you factor in the risk associated with Marhsall, you can see that the Dolphins are taking a big leap of faith. (For another comparison, Marshall is set to make $2 million more than Roddy White too, whom the Falcons signed to a six-year, $48 million contract last August.)

But again, the Dolphins had no choice. In this case, the risk is worth the reward because Marshall is still young (26), very productive and could potentially be the difference-maker that Miami has coveted for years. If he behaves, the Dolphins won’t live to regret their decision.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

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