Jay wrote yesterday an opinion and analytical piece concerning the Bengals spending practices and relative success in the past 10 years. Comments pointed out that some successful teams are high budget and some are low budget. In a capped era, it did not really matter all that much. There could be no New York Yankees of football. My argument, though, is that the quantity of money is not the important variable. As with all sports and business, where and how that money is spent is the crucial variable.
The inability to recognize the impact of a free agent like Brandon Marshall is a problem. The refusal to invest in players like Marshall that can impact the franchise for years is the real problem. Combined with the failure for the Bengals to successfully draft and develop wide receivers (remember Bennie Brazell, Reggie McNeil and Maurice Mann? Me niether), and this move just makes too much sense.
At 26 and performing at a Pro Bowl level, recording 100-catch seasons perenially, Brandon Marshall is a unique talent and opportunity for the Bengals organization. By some accounts, he's the sixth best receiver in the NFL, ranking just ahead of Chad Ochocinco. He could be the future #1 in Cincinnati for as many as 5 years, and could take an enormous amount of pressure off of Chad Ochocinco. Additionally, as a weapon to revitalize the passing game, this acquisition would provide much needed balance to Cincinnati's offense. Along with the investment in a true, dangerous, able-bodied tight end, Marshall could go miles toward improving a dismal offensive performance. The offensive line will inevitably get better as it stays together. All that's left is depth there. But adding a tight end, even one like Baker, and Marshall could coddle juggernaut status out of the Bengals' offense for the first time since 2005.
The Bengals have shown the willingness lately to sign guys like Vern Coles (who was the highest paid player on the team last year) and Ben Utecht. He shelled out mega-bucks to Antwan Odom, who has been an unstoppable force and game changer when healthy. The Bengals have also gone to great lengths to lock up guys like Andrew Whitworth, Carson Palmer, Domata Peko and Robert Geathers with long, lucrative contracts. There have been years that we've seen Warren Sapp or Shaun Rogers slip through our fingers, but to call Brown cheap isn't entirely accurate.
Maybe it's not so far fetched that the Bengals, then, would make a move for Brandon Marshall. Look at 'Vern Coles contract, front loaded as it may have been. The team recognized a need at wide receiver and addressed it by paying (the wrong player) a premium. If the front office has learned from its mistakes, it won't overpay for Terrell Owens or risk inconsistency with Antonio Bryant. It will spent that money on one of the best players in the league in Brandon Marshall and make an investment for the future of the franchise that will start paying dividends today.
We'll probably find out in the next few days how the front office feels about Marshall with guys like Owens and Bryant available for just money and no draft pick (and probably for less money). But if the last few years have taught us anything, it's that Mike Brown will spend money - we just have to hope he picks the right player this time.