The dismantling of the New York Jets continues apace.
After releasing arguably the best defensive player in franchise history on Tuesday, general manager Mike Maccagnan and Co. granted the release of arguably the best receiver in franchise history on Thursday night.
Brandon Marshall played only 31 games for New York, but we’re talking about a franchise that had its fans salivating over a seven-year, $30 million deal for Justin McCareins. This is the same team that treats Wayne Chrebet like Randy Moss and that spent a second-round pick on Stephen Hill, who played college ball for a school that treated the forward pass like a trick play.
Marshall leaves New York as the franchise’s single-season leader in receptions and receiving yards, and he’s tied for the lead in touchdowns. Despite playing less than two full seasons with the Jets, his career numbers with New York rank in the top 25 across all three categories, too. Marshall’s languid-yet-explosive, elegant-but-powerful athleticism would be a rare sight anywhere, but Jets fans had never seen someone navigate a football field the way he could.
Marshall’s arrival in Florham Park marked the beginning of the hyperspeed rebuild Maccagnan attempted after the end of the Rex Ryan era, and his departure is another admission that the plan totally failed. With Darrelle Revis, Nick Mangold, Marshall, and others now gone, the team’s cleared up northward of $40 million in space after entering the offseason with one of the league’s tightest cap situations. New York can finally begin the real rebuild.
As for Marshall, here’s all you really need to know:
He turns 33 next month, but for teams that aren’t looking beyond the next year or two, he’s probably the best wide receiver on the free-agent market. Alshon Jeffery and Terrelle Pryor both might have higher ceilings at this point, but they’ve got much lower floors: Jeffery can’t stay on the field and Pryor has barely been a professional receiver for longer than I have.
Marshall, in other words, will be just fine. As for the Jets? “Fine” is just about the only four-letter word you won’t hear at MetLife Stadium this season.