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Trading Marshall would cripple Broncos' passing attack

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    Broncos WR Brandon Marshall

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Recent posts by Michael Blunda

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Posted June 21, 2009 @ 7:08 p.m.
Updated Oct. 06, 2010 @ 7:27 p.m.
By Michael Blunda

Just last season, the Broncos were one of the league's most prolific offenses, finishing second overall and third in passing. But after a tumultous offseason full of turnover, this unit could fall off more than any other in 2009.

After dealing its offense a severe blow by trading away its keystone in QB Jay Cutler, Denver is now in a position where it might be forced into parting ways with Pro Bowl WR Brandon Marshall. While the Cutler deal was devastating, a trade of Marshall, who has 206 receptions in the past two seasons, would be the straw that broke the camel's back.

New head coach Josh McDaniels probably could've made due with an average QB in Kyle Orton but top-notch receivers in Marshall and Eddie Royal. After all, he had success last season with a similar situation in New England (Matt Cassel at QB, Randy Moss and Wes Welker at WR). But the departure of Marshall — without getting a proven wideout in return — would leave the Broncos in desperate need of receiving targets.

Sure, Royal looked like the real thing as a rookie in '08 and probably could do a admirable job as the team's No. 1 WR, but who would line up opposite him? Jabar Gaffney and Brandon Stokley are options, but they are both more suited to play the slot at this point in their careers. Who does that leave? Brandon Lloyd? Chad Jackson? An undrafted rookie? It's a group of lackluster players that McDaniels didn't plan on seeing much of this year but now may have to.

The guy whose fantasy value figures to take the biggest hit without Marshall is Orton. Operating a Bears offense last season with a receiving corps about as talented as Denver's would be if it trades No. 15, Orton had just 2,972 yards with 18 TDs and 12 INTs, including only one 300-yard outing and one three-TD performance. I really liked him to be a breakout fantasy player in '09 playing behind a superb O-line with two tremendous pass catchers, but that would all go out the window if Marshall is taken out of the equation.

If the Broncos have any desire to see their offense succeed this year, they will do the smart thing and hold on to Marshall. His presence makes Orton a guy to strongly consider as your No. 2 QB. And while Marshall's loss might make Royal a bit more appealing, it would make Orton someone to ignore in fantasy drafts.

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