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Who has it worse: Broncos with Marshall or 49ers with Crabtree?

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    Broncos WR Brandon Marshall

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By Eric Edholm

Who would you rather be right now? New Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels, trying hard enough to move on following the Jay Cutler fiasco that never should have happened, but instead dealing with a petulant Brandon Marshall? Or 49ers head coach Mike Singletary, sensing that you might have to prepare to never have Michael Crabtree for an offense that badly, badly needs receiving help?

Let's break each one down.

The Broncos are facing a really tough situation. Cutler is gone, and Sunday's preseason game against the Bears (who took Cutler off of their hands, thank you very much) will only be a stark reminder of what they lost this offseason. Add into that Marshall, who has pouted and sloughed his way to a suspension and who now has put the team in an almost untenable situation.

The easy solution is to trade their disgruntled wideout, and a precedent already has been set here on this. But that's part of the problem. Marshall knows this. He knows he can force his way out of town, a la Cutler, and that the team might not have a more attractive option. The Broncos almost certainly can't get market value for a player who is 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, ridiculously talented and has 225 catches (including seasons with 102 and 104) at age 25. Are they going to get the first- and third-round return for him? Certainly not after his latest juvenile acts and given that this is not the first time he has been in trouble.

Pair that up against the 49ers' dilemma. They have a serious need at wideout that could be filled with Crabtree, but this appears to be heading nowhere quickly. Agent Eugene Parker for the first time has talked about his client re-entering the draft next fall, potentially losing millions of dollars, which is a bold and insane move for an agent who has a reputation of being very tough but also very level-headed when it comes to negotiations. He's clearly acting here on behalf of his client, who has made it clear he wants more money than the team is willing to pony up.

NFL rules make it nearly impossible to trade an unsigned Crabtree. Boiled down, CBA rules essentially state that Crabtree, because he has not signed his contract 30 days prior to the start of the season (that passed on Aug. 14), the 49ers cannot trade him, or sign and trade him, prior to March 1 of next year. Further, Mr. Crabtree may not play in the league this season if he has not signed with the 49ers by the Tuesday after Week 10 (Nov. 17) and is eligible to be taken by any team — other than the Niners — in the 2010 draft. Basically, they are stuck with this guy and they still might not get anything from him.

My gut says that the Broncos, given that they still can get something for their guy, might be better off in the two worst-case situations. But ask yourself this: Which team has the best chance to iron things out? My sense is that Marshall has sailed his ship in Denver but that there still is a chance things could work out with Crabtree and San Fran.

I don't have too much in the way of insider information on the Crabtree negotiations, so it's hard to make a prediction on this one. My guess is that something will get done eventually. So that leads me to say that the Broncos, already having sent one star player away for probably less than he's worth and about to do the same with another, are worse off. If the 49ers get nothing for taking Crabtree, clearly they get shafted pretty hard, but I suspect neither side really wants it to come to that, despite all the tough talk from both sides.

So I'll go, conditionally, with Denver being worse off. What say you guys on the matter?

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