Although he will turn 33 on March 23, Marshall is certain he has a lot of productive football ahead of him.
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“I feel great,” he said in the Giants’ Quest Diagnostics Training Center headquarters this morning. “I started my training three weeks ago. I have lot to prove. I have a chip on my shoulder. When you get to the plus side of 30, a lot of people say that you’re done. I’ve always been that type of player, to use things like that as fuel. I’m approaching this year like it’s my rookie year. I want to try to outwork everyone and do my best to be the best receiver I can be.
“I think it’s the perfect situation for me. There’s a stability in ownership. Since I’ve been in New York, all I’ve heard is amazing things about how well-run this organization is. Now I can understand why everybody holds the Giants organization so high.”
Marshall was released last week by the Jets, for whom he played the last two seasons.
“Brandon is a big, talented wide receiver who we believe can still play at a very high level,” general manager Jerry Reese said. “But, most of all, we believe he still has the hunger.”
Marshall has caught more than 100 passes in a season an NFL-record six times, including a career-high 118 with the Bears in 2012, when he was selected first-team All-Pro.
On December 13, 2009, Marshall set an NFL single-game record with 21 receptions for Denver against Indianapolis. He is also tied for third on that list with 18 catches for the Broncos vs. San Diego on Sept. 14, 2008 (one of the players he is tied with is Dallas tight end Jason Witten, who caught 18 passes vs. the Giants on Oct. 28, 2012).
Among active players at the conclusion of the 2016 season, Marshall’s 941 catches ranked sixth, his 12,061 yards were fifth, and his 82 touchdown catches tied him with Anquan Boldin for third. But two players ahead of him on the receptions and yards lists – Steve Smith and Andre Johnson – have retired.
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Marshall has exceeded 1,000 receiving yards eight times in 11 seasons, including a career-best 1,508 yards in 2012. He gained more than 1,000 yards in seven consecutive seasons from 2007-13. Marshall has had 1,000-yard seasons with each of his four previous teams.
He has posted those numbers playing with quarterbacks such as Jay Cutler (in both Denver and Chicago), Kyle Orton, Chad Henne, Matt Moore and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Now he gets to play with Eli Manning. When it was suggested to Marshall that Manning is “probably” the best quarterback he has been associated with, the newest Giants gave a direct response.
“Not probably. He is,” Marshall said. “I’ve played with some great quarterbacks. Ryan Fitzpatrick (his quarterback with the Jets) is probably one of my favorite quarterbacks that I’ve played with. I see a lot of similarities there. I don’t think people realize how hard Eli works in the film room and in the classroom, and how he’s an amazing leader. Obviously, we know about his physical ability. What’s not reported is how hard he works off the field. With Ryan Fitzpatrick, I’m used to that type of approach, where they’re leaders and they also push you in the classroom. So being able to play with a guy who’s a two-time Super Bowl champion and has done some amazing things in this league for a long time, he’s a warrior, and I’m looking forward to following him.”
Marshall is also anticipating mentoring the Giants’ young receiving standouts, Odell Beckham, Jr. and Sterling Shepard.
“Whatever our room needs,” Marshall said. “I know my number one job is to take pressure off the other receivers by doing my job and being a great receiver. I think that naturally will happen as far as being able to be that older guy in the room where they can learn from my history and my experiences. There is a lot that they can pull from. Hopefully, we’ll learn from each other.
“I’m super excited to play with and experience an awesome quarterback in Eli Manning and play with the biggest superstar in the NFL, Odell, on the other side. I’m eager to take pressure of him. He’s seen funky coverages. So many teams do everything they can to pull him out of the game.”
Marshall was traded to the Jets by the Bears on March 10, 2015. In his first season with the team, he was voted by his teammates as the Jets’ most valuable player after scoring a career-high 14 touchdowns while catching 109 passes for 1,502 yards, each the second-highest total of his career. He finished in the top five in the NFL in all three categories.
Last season, Marshall started all 15 games in which he played and had 59 receptions for 788 yards and three scores.
Marshall entered the NFL as a 2006 fourth-round draft choice from Central Florida by the Broncos. As a rookie, he caught only 20 passes. But in the next three seasons, his receptions totals were 102, 104 and 101, as he became one of only six players in NFL history to catch at least 100 passes in three consecutive seasons.
Marshall has played in 167 games with 151 starts – that is the highest number of games played by an active player who has not appeared in the playoffs. The Giants were 11-5 and a playoff team in 2016, and Marshall is eager to join them in the postseason this year.
“That’s why I’m here,” he said. “I’m here just because of that reason, because I want to finish my career as a winner.”