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Marshall's big payday is coming

Broncos receiver proves his worth on a team headed to postseason. Matt Bowen

Print This December 16, 2009, 07:04 AM EST

Brandon Marshall is going to get paid.

And if the Denver Broncos wants to continue to build on what should be a playoff season in 2009, they will pay big to keep Marshall in a Broncos uniform — for years.

What a difference 15 weeks can make, right? Remember back to mid-August when Marshall grabbed all the headlines for his antics during training camp that were, well, less than unprofessional when we talk about the great receivers in this league? It led to a suspension, bloggers went crazy and we were all against Brandon Marshall.

I was guilty of it, just as many Broncos fan were. And depending on whom you talked to in the league, Denver was reportedly looking to shop Marshall around. Yes, the same guy who just caught 21 passes on Sunday to break the NFL record for receptions in a game was the subject of trade talk. Crazy talk now after you see his numbers and that 8-5 record for the Broncos.

I even talked to a high-level NFL executive in August who called Marshall a “bad apple.”

But production in this league talks, despite off-the-field issues and a lack of maturity on the practice field. You see, we talk about this often whenever a player like Marshall has red flags attached to his name. But when the guy can go out and dominate a game like he did Sunday — where no coverage was an answer — that all falls behind a closed curtain that won’t likely ever be opened again.

And it always plays out like a stage play, where the villain turns out to be the hero. Because as much as we want to say that this guy or that guy is bad for the locker room or doesn’t take coaching, or even that he doesn’t see eye to eye with the front office, as along as he can get it done on Sunday, he’ll get paid.

That’s the NFL, like it or not.

Marshall is one of those guys, and it isn’t just this past Sunday we’re talking about. So far in 2009, he’s third in the league in receptions with 86, behind Wes Welker and Reggie Wayne and ahead of Larry Fitzgerald. And on top of that, Marshall is tied for fourth in the league with nine touchdown catches.

But once again, those are just numbers, and numbers can be viewed in a variety of ways depending on what type of offensive system you play in.

Exactly, and that’s my point with Marshall and the Broncos. He’s an ideal fit for coach Josh McDaniels’ system. He can win versus press man consistently at the line of scrimmage and has the ability to defeat a rolled-up corner in a Cover 2 look and have his way with a safety standing 15 yards off the ball.

But more important, he’s a “run after the catch’ type of receiver, a bigger and faster version of Arizona’s Anquan Boldin once he gets his hands on the football. A 3-step slant route can turn into a touchdown, just as a simple fade route can turn into the lead-in highlight on the 10 o’clock news.

Plus, Marshall bought into this system under McDaniels. Sure, it didn’t happen overnight, but did we expect it to after the training camp he had? Of course not, but he eventually got on board with the rest of his teammates and is now most likely going to take part in some playoff football. He’ll be worth every dollar spent on him because the Broncos can’t and won’t win without him.

He’s that good — on the field — and he’ll soon be the highest-paid receiver in the NFL.

Because that production, and days like Sunday, talk when it’s time to head to the negotiating table. Denver knows this, McDaniels knows this, and Marshall knows it, too.

It’s time to get paid.

Follow me on Twitter: MattBowen41

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