INDIANAPOLIS - In a perfect (and uncapped) world, Brandon Marshall would make perfect sense for the Giants. He's the big receiver they've needed for years, a potential mentor for the young and turbulent Odell Beckham, and with a personality that proved to be a good fit for New York.
And while the Giants' salary cap situation could make it complicated, now that Marshall is an ex-Jet, a move to the other locker room at the Meadowlands makes too much sense for the Giants not to at least try.
Begin with the football aspect of it. The Giants are in need of an outside receiver after cutting Victor Cruz, who was a bad fit on the outside anyway. They need one accomplished and dangerous enough to take some pressure off Beckham. And they need one with size, since the book on quarterback Eli Manning since his college days has always been that when he misses his target, more often than not he misses high.
Just remember how successful Manning was in his best years, throwing to the 6-3 Amani Toomer and the 6-5 Plaxico Burress. Manning was (and to an extent still is) an expert at throwing passes, especially along the sidelines, where only his receivers can reach them. Add in a tall receiver with long arms - something the Giants really haven't had since Burress left -- and there's seemingly a recipe for instant success.
Now, the 36-year-old Manning isn't the same player he was back then, and neither is the soon-to-be-33 Marshall. But Marshall is still 6-4, 230 and he's only one year removed from a 109-catch, 1,502-yard, 14-touchdown season - which, by the way, was accomplished with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback. Even last season Marshall caught 59 passes for 788 yards while battling injuries and catching passes from a literal mess of Jets quarterbacks.
There's no reason why he can't do much better with Beckham and Sterling Shepard drawing coverage and Manning throwing the ball.
Of course, Marshall does come with issues. For one, he'll likely want to continue his high-profile job with Showtime - which could be difficult since "Inside the NFL" tapes on Tuesdays, and that's a work day on the Giants' schedule now. If it can be arranged, though, the Giants would likely let him do it as long as it doesn't conflict with his work schedule. After all, as Ben McAdoo proved during the playoffs last season, he's pretty lenient and understanding about with what his players do on their own time.
Marshall also was the center of some locker room turmoil with the Jets. He has a vocal, direct leadership style that rubbed some of his teammates the wrong way. That could be an issue, though it's worth noting that the Jets' locker room was particularly dysfunctional last season, and Marshall's presence wasn't a problem when they went 10-6 in 2015 - only when the losing started last year.
In fact, Marshall actually could turn out to be good in the Giants' room - especially for the volatile and often controversial Beckham. The two of them spoke last season when Beckham's on-field behavior again seemed to be on the verge of getting out of control. Marshall had similar issues earlier in his career as he struggled to deal with his quick rise to stardom.
He could turn out to be the veteran mentor that Beckham needs.
And it seems pretty clear that Marshall would be willing to switch local teams. He's played 11 seasons without ever reaching the playoffs - undoubtedly a huge reason why he declined a chance to return to the Jets. The Giants, in a full-sprint attempt to compete for a championship before the end of the Manning Era, are coming off an 11-5 season and bringing most of their key players back. They have a good chance to be a championship contender in 2017. And Manning, by the way, will be the best quarterback Marshall has ever had.
So the only question is the cost - a legitimate worry with the Giants only expected to have about $17 million in salary cap space to spend. That's probably enough, considering they aren't expected to be very active in free agency and seem like a longshot to re-sign defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins at this point. They may be able to bargain shop on the offensive line and tight end and bolster their depth and still entice Marshall, too.
Marshall was scheduled to make $7.5 million with the Jets this season. Late in the season, though, when discussing the possibility of taking a pay cut to stay with the Jets, Marshall insisted that money wouldn't be his primary concern.
"It's not about the money," he said. "I'm good. I'm good with the money. I just want to win. That's all I want to do. I'll play for free. My bills are paid."
That sure sounds like an opening for the Giants to entice him with the chance to finally be on a winner, and perhaps get him at a short-term bargain. And it looks like it could be a big win for both sides.