KUSA – Brandon Marshall, a five-year starting inside linebacker for some of the best Denver Broncos’ defenses in team history, has been notified he will be released.
Marshall had a clause in his contract that fully guaranteed $1 million of his $6.5 million salary the day free agency opens on March 13. Marshall told 9NEWS on Friday morning someone on the Broncos informed his agent Drew Rosenhaus the team would not exercise that $1 million guarantee, a move that will release him to free agency.
Although Marshall was the team’s lone inside backer with “cover speed,” his release was expected. Besides his $6.5 million salary, Marshall was also in line to draw $500,000 in per game roster bonuses, which could have bumped his 2019 payout to $7 million.
Still, Marshall was one of general manager John Elway’s best personnel moves, as the Broncos signed the linebacker to their practice squad in 2013 after he was cut for a third time by Jacksonville. He earned his promotion to the Broncos’ 53-man roster late in the 2013 season and played special teams in Super Bowl XLVIII.
“I love the organization,’’ Marshall said. “They gave me my first chance to actually play. I loved the team, all my teammates. I really loved the city. I feel like I was embraced on and off the field. I’m just sorry I was injured two of the last three years.’’
Marshall was also one of the Broncos’ most controversial players as to open the 2016 season before a nationally televised audience, he supported his college teammate Colin Kaepernick’s cause against social injustice by taking a knee during the playing of the National Anthem.
Marshall brought awareness to his cause by either kneeling or staying in the tunnel during the playing of the National Anthem off-and-on in 2017 and 2018, too. Although he emerged into an excellent linebacker – leading the team in tackles in 2014 and 2017, and calling the plays for the Broncos’ historic Super Bowl 50 defense in 2015 – Marshall’s National Anthem demonstration was so powerful, it may be his lasting legacy as a Bronco.
“I’m fine with it because I think every man, every individual has to make decisions throughout their lives on what they believe in, or what they feel strongly about, what they’re convicted in,’’ Marshall said in a sit-down interview with 9NEWS prior the Broncos’ final game on December 20 against the Chargers. “And that whole year I was able to go home and sleep peacefully knowing the decisions I made and the risks that I could potentially take on.
“And in hindsight, two years later, I’m fine with that. It hurt me in some ways in terms of sponsorships and maybe my perception around the league or around the organization. But everybody seems to be cool with me. Joe Ellis (the Broncos’ president) is always cool and talks to me and was always all good. I thank Joe Ellis for everything. The other day I thanked him, and he said thank you for being who you are in the community. I think I was able to back it up with some of the stuff I did.
“So, I hope they would remember that but when I get stuff on Twitter, they still hate me for that. Let’s say I miss a tackle. They hate me, because of what I did, when I took a knee. But at the end of the day, man, the people that I love, they’ve got my back.’’
Marshall, 29, missed five games last season because of a knee injury, although he did return to play in the final three games. Among the teams who may be interested in interested in Marshall are Arizona, where former Broncos head coach Vance Joseph is the defensive coordinator, the Los Angeles Rams, where former Broncos’ defensive coordinator Wade Phillips holds the same role and Minnesota, where former Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak is the offensive head.
The Broncos, meanwhile, will be looking for an inside linebacker who can run to complement the tackling machines Todd Davis and Josey Jewell. Many NFL mock projections have the Broncos using their No. 10 overall draft pick on LSU’s Devin White.
Marshall will join Malik Jackson, Danny Trevathan, Sylvester Williams, DeMarcus Ware, T.J. Ward and Aqib Talib as starters from the Broncos' famed Super Bowl 50 defense who won't be around four years later.
Von Miller, Chris Harris Jr., Derek Wolfe and Darian Stewart are the Super Bowl 50 starters who remain with the team. Stewart may be vulnerable of experiencing the same fate as Marshall as the safety, who turns 31 in August, is scheduled to make $4.97 million this season.