Linebacker Brandon Marshall and edge rusher Shane Ray were each released by their 'new' teams on Friday. Marshall had signed with the Oakland Raiders earlier this spring, while Ray had joined the Baltimore Ravens.
Unfortunately for Marshall, the health problems that plagued his final three years in Denver derailed his brief time in Oakland. After he was cut, Marshall tweeted this:
I thank Oakland for the Opportunity! Unfortunately I had to use training camp to work myself back to full health, and I did just that! Ready for what God has for me next.
When asked on Twitter whether he'd like to return to the Broncos, Marshall tweeted, 'Would LOVE to!!'
Two exclamation points there, in case you missed it. Meanwhile, Ray's tenure in Baltimore ended in a fizzle in large part due to the fact that in four preseason games, he totaled just a half-sack and two tackles.
It's a common and natural, and almost physiological reaction by fans to want those old players they're familiar with to return back to the 'home' team. But here's why that would be a bad idea for the Broncos in the case of Marshall and Ray.
Why it wouldn't work with Marshall
In the case of Marshall, he's injury-prone. Plain and simple.
When he was healthy, he was an animal for the Broncos. And don't get me wrong, the man's a warrior. He played hurt with a torn shoulder through all of 2017, but still started all 16 games. However, when a player is constantly hurt and in pain, it alters his focus. It diminishes the impact he can make.
Marshall fought like hell for his team and he deserves credit for that but over his final two years in Denver, he was a shell of the linebacker who helped the 2015 Broncos bring home the Lombardi Trophy.
Marshall is also about to turn 30 in September. If the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, it's likely to be all downhill from here for Marshall.
Lastly, just because Marshall is familiar with the Broncos' locker room doesn't mean he knows anything about Vic Fangio's defense. Don't forget, since the Broncos parted ways with Marshall, an entirely new scheme has been installed.
Why it wouldn't work with Ray
In Ray's case, many of the same drawbacks hold true, but especially the injury concerns. On the heels of totaling eight sacks in his second season, Ray was on deck for a big 2017 campaign before he suffered a brutal wrist injury early on in training camp.
Without recounting all the grisly details, Ray was never the same player after that. And in 2018 — his final year with the Broncos — his attitude in the locker room took on a negative tone. He claimed it was 'disrespectful' that the Broncos would make him a healthy scratch late last season but the bottom line was, NFL coaches — especially those whose jobs are on the line like Vance Joseph's was last year — don't sit down healthy, high-impact players.
Ray hasn't been a play-maker in a long time. And just because he's a former first-round pick doesn't change that fact.
That first-round draft pedigree landed him another opportunity to keep his career alive in Baltimore but he couldn't sustain it. Why? Because that wrist injury of which he had surgically repaired multiple time sapped him of his phenomenal, natural ability.
Of the two, I'd be more inclined to consider bringing Brandon Marshall back, but only because of how badly the Broncos have been hit by the injury bug at off-ball linebacker. However, I really don't see it happening.
If John Elway and Vic Fangio deigned to bring back Marshall or Shane Ray, it would mean taking reps away from the young players the Broncos have steadily been working hard to develop, like Alexander Johnson, Justin Hollins and Malik Reed.
No, the Marshall and Ray days in Denver are in the rear-view — where they belong. Besides, once Elway turns the page on a player, unless that player's name is Brock Osweiler, he's probably not ever looking back.
One last thing, before you bring up Kayvon Webster (who was released by New Orleans), remember this; Elway has had multiple opportunities to reconnect with Webster. It's not going to happen, especially on the heels of Friday's trade for Duke Dawson.