Brandon Marshall

Raiders sign ex-Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall to one-year contract

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USATSI

Raiders sign ex-Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall to one-year contract

The Raiders added some veteran leadership to their defense, and it’s someone they know well. Longtime Denver Broncos interior linebacker Brandon Marshall has signed with the Raiders, the team announced on Thursday.

A source said he signed a one-year contract worth up to $4.1 million.

This is an important addition for the Raiders, who have now added two veteran linebackers to a young defense. Marshall joins Vontaze Burfict as newcomers with experience playing off the ball, especially in the middle and on the weak side.

Marshall has been a quality starter for years, but someone with his pedigree is available at this stage of free agency for two reasons: 1. He’ll be north of 30 in September, and 2. He’s coming off knee issues that ruined his 2018 season, which eventually saw him dropped from the starting lineup.

Denver declined his 2019 option and cut bait with two years left on a five-year contract, sending him to the open market with recent game film that doesn’t show him at his best.

Marshall wants to show he can still play at the high level many expect. Burfict wants the same after concussion issues sent him off track. Derrick Johnson had a similar quest last year and that didn’t pan out.

Johnson was coming off injury but didn’t have the same juice at 35 that he had earlier in his career.

Marshall is far younger, with a greater chance to find old form. He could lineup next to Tahir Whitehead and Burfict, with young players Jason Cabinda and Nicholas Morrow and Marquel Lee also in the mix. Burfict and Marshall have played the same role before, so we should wait to see how role shake out before setting a depth chart in March.

We know this: Marshall has been a sure tackler, proving competent against the run and pass.

This move could help the Raiders defense as a whole and fortify the linebacker corps, but it’s far from a sure thing. Guaranteed performers are hard to find at this stage of the free-agent period.

He’s also yet another Drew Rosenhaus client added over this free-agent period. Marshall’s the fourth to end up in silver and black in the last week-plus, following Antonio Brown and Trent Brown and Isaiah Crowell, who also signed up on Thursday.

[RELATED: Raiders among teams set to meet with NFL draft prospect Montez Sweat]

It would be a homecoming of sorts for Marshall if he remains a Raider in 2020. He’s from Las Vegas, where the team will be moving shortly, and went to Nevada-Reno. He only has a one-year deal, but certainly hopes to parlay that into an opportunity to play in his hometown.

NFL rumors: Brandon Marshall, Isaiah Crowell set to visit Raiders

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AP

NFL rumors: Brandon Marshall, Isaiah Crowell set to visit Raiders

The Raiders have added several since free agency began, and might not be done adding veterans yet.

They’ll reportedly host former Denver linebacker Brandon Marshall and former New York Jets running back Isaiah Crowell on Thursday, looking to shore up areas of need before the NFL draft hits next month.

NFL Network reported the Crowell visit and 9News in Denver reported the Marshall news. The Raiders will only deal with one agent for these visits, as Drew Rosenhaus represents both players. He also reps new Raiders Antonio Brown and Trent Brown.

The Raiders have shown interest in Marshall before, though it seemed to wane after Vontaze Burfict signed. Marshall has mostly played inside or middle linebacker, which is Burfict’s preferred position.

Both guys can play other off-the-ball linebacker spots, with experience on the weak side. That’s Tahir Whitehead’s spot, so there’s some curiosity where Marshall would fit among the team’s personnel group. There’s no certainty Burfict rebounds from a disappointing 2018 – he only has $300,000 guaranteed in his one-year deal – and Whitehead struggled at times. The incumbent was given a $3.32 million bonus in Dec. 2018, four months earlier that scheduled to ease its salary-cap burden.

Marshall has been a quality player for some time, but struggled with injuries last year and lost his starting spot. 

The Raiders need running back help, too be sure. Crowell is a do-it-all type the Raiders prefer, considering Jon Gruden’s penchant for using backs in the passing game. He averaged 4.8 yards per carry with the Jets last year, though he didn’t crack 1,000 yards total offense as he did the previous two seasons. He’s a bigger back at 5-foot-11 and 225 pounds, offering a veteran presence should Doug Martin not return to the Raiders.

The Silver and Black are slow-playing Marshawn Lynch right now despite him being fully healthy and open to a return. The Raiders aren’t expected to make a decision there until after the NFL draft.

[RELATED: Raiders among teams to meet with prospect Sweat

They’re looking for a young three-down back and could pluck one in the early rounds.

Crowell and Jalen Richard could accent a draft pick, with Chris Warren also set to compete for carries.

Marshall's admission a reminder culture of health doesn't exist

Marshall's admission a reminder culture of health doesn't exist

Brandon Marshall of the New York Jets had one of his greatest games ever against the San Francisco 49ers two years ago and remembers almost none of it, because, as he told reporters Wednesday, he was cloudy-minded on painkillers.

This admission is one more reminder that sports are not necessarily good for one’s health, in large part because the culture of health in sports really doesn’t exist.

There is, rather, a culture of ordnance, and the players are the weaponry.

Marshall’s acknowledgement that he was masking pain from a high ankle sprain that should have kept him out of action for “four to six weeks,” by his own estimation but had him returning to action 10 days after the original injury.

“I’ll say it: I took a couple pain pills, so . . . I took a couple of pain pills to mask the pain,” he said on a conference call with CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocco. “I really wasn’t supposed to play. So I don’t remember much from that game. I just remember catching those balls. That was pretty much it.”

We now re-enter the culture of playing when it isn’t prudent, either out of a misplaced sense of bravado or employer-based pressure to perform (there is no direct statement from Marshall saying that the painkillers were given to him by the team). The sense of bravado, which most athletes have, probably can never be legislated, and the culture of downward pressure to perform no matter what the infirmity has proven immensely difficult to conquer.

But there is another factor here, and that is the general lack of efficacy of painkillers. Warriors coach Steve Kerr took to using a form of medicinal marijuana because the painkillers he was taking for long-lingering symptoms from his back surgery were doing more harm than good. He said he found the marijuana was equally lacking, but he had enough concerns about the deleterious effects of Vicodin, OxyContin and other standard medications assigned to athletes in pain.

“I’m not a pot person; it doesn’t agree with me,” Kerr told CSN Bay Area’s Monte Poole on the Warriors Insider Podcast. “I’ve tried it a few times, and it did not agree with me at all. So I’m not the expert on this stuff. But I do know this: If you’re an NFL player, in particular, and you’ve got a lot of pain, I don’t think there is any question that pot is better for your body than Vicodin. And yet athletes everywhere are prescribed Vicodin like it’s Vitamin C, like it’s no big deal.”

He later expanded on that after the initial “Kerr Is A Sparker” headlines hit the Internet.

“Having gone through a tough spell over the last year with my own recovery from back surgery, a lot of pain, a lot of chronic pain, I had to do a lot of research,” he said. “You get handed prescriptions for Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet . . . NFL players, that’s what they’re given. That stuff is awful. That stuff is dangerous, the addiction possibility, what it can lead to, the long-term health risks. The issue that’s really important is how do we do what’s best for the players.

“But I understand that it’s a perception issue around the country. The NFL, the NBA, it’s a business. So you don’t want your customers thinking, ‘These guys are a bunch of potheads.’ That’s what it is. To me, it’s only a matter of time before medicinal marijuana is allowed in sports leagues because the education will overwhelm the perception. If you do any research at all, the stuff they’re prescribing is really bad for you and the stuff that they’re banning is fine.”

It is instructive, then, that when Marshall was asked for his position on the NFL’s stance not to include marijuana as a permissible substance for pain management, substance, a Jets public-relations employee who could be heard in the background of the call saying that Marshall “knows better than that.”

But Marshall did answer the question, saying in essence that he fully intends to know better, period.

“That is something that I actually want to research more this offseason when I have time,” he said. “I’m not a guy that knows about the benefits of what it can do for pain and other things. But I’d like to hear others’ opinions and really research the effects it can have on us – positives and negatives.”

In the meantime, sports soldiers on, using increasingly debunked methods for dealing with the pain their businesses inflict upon their employees and issuing warnings about breaching the silence of the workplace. But tales like Marshall’s will continue to surface until the businesses that require him and his like come to grips with the toll of their shortsightedness and, in some cases, neglect.