Brandon Marshall's numbers took a big dip last season and, at age 32, it looked like the beginning of a late-career decline. But the Jets receiver apparently doesn't agree with that sentiment.
In fact, he guarantees that next season, at age 33, he'll be right back up at the top of the charts.
Marshall vowed that he will be a "top-five" receiver again while making an appearance on ESPN's First Take during Super Bowl hype week in Houston on Wednesday. He acknowledged the misery of his 2016 season, in which he had just 59 catches for 788 yards. But to him, that was a blip on his radar, not a sign of diminishing skills.
"Last year was a down year for several reasons," Marshall said. "I'm not even in the top 30 (among NFL receivers). I had 700-and-something yards.
"But this year, I promise you, I'll be in the top five at the end of the next year."
That's a bold guarantee from an 11-year veteran who has no idea who'll be throwing him passes next season -- either with the Jets or elsewhere. Obviously the quarterback will be the most important ingredient in any revival Marshall might have. The regression of Ryan Fitzpatrick, the injury to Geno Smith, and the struggles of Bryce Petty all contributed to his struggles in 2016.
Given how vocal Marshall was about the Jets re-signing Fitzpatrick last offseason, after the two of them combined for a brilliant 2015, you'd think Marshall might have an opinion on whom the Jets quarterback should be next season. But in multiple interviews on Wednesday he insisted he's "retired" from making personnel suggestions.
"I'm not in the quarterback department. I'm out of the personnel department," Marshall said on SportsCenter. "I'm just focused on catching footballs and my role.
"I don't know what we're going to do and I don't care. I just want to catch footballs. Last year I spent so much time and energy lobbying for Ryan. I'd do it again because he had a tremendous year (in 2015) and we had a lot of success. That's what teammates do. You stand up for each other. But it took so much time and energy. Every day I woke up and was on my phone like, 'Did he sign? Did he sign?' That's not my job."
Marshall might be asking a similar question about himself shortly, since his return to the Jets is far from a guarantee. He has one year remaining on the three-year, $26 million contract he signed prior to the 2015 season. He's due a $7.5 million salary in 2017 and the Jets would clear it all off their salary cap if they were to release him.