Seattle Seahawks hot in pursuit of Broncos’ Brandon Marshall

brandon-marshallTurns out the Seattle Seahawks are not going to tiptoe into the league’s free-agency period after all.

The team’s methodical approach has now turned into a full-court press for one of the best receivers in the league, as the Seahawks are expected to meet with Denver Broncos restricted free agent Brandon Marshall today. The move was first reported by and later confirmed by the team.

The Seahawks took an early hit in free agency by losing unrestricted free-agent wide receiver Nate Burleson to Detroit just hours into the start. Burleson, a Seattle native who had said he wanted to return to the Seahawks, signed a five-year, $25 million deal – $11 million of which is guaranteed – with the Lions. Burleson was the first player to sign a deal once free agency began Thursday evening.

Burleson said the Seahawks declined to match the financial package the Lions offered.

“In Detroit, they were far more enthusiastic about me coming and being a part of their program more than anybody else, including Seattle,” Burleson said during an interview with local radio station KJR-AM.

Seattle wasted little time trying to secure Burleson’s replacement.

Marshall is a restricted free agent, and the Broncos tagged him with a first-round tender, meaning that any team that signs Marshall to an offer sheet would have to give up a first-round pick as compensation if Denver doesn’t match the offer.

For Seattle, that would mean the Seahawks would be on the hook to give up the team’s No. 6 overall pick.

However, a second option exists where the Seahawks and Broncos essentially do a sign-and-trade deal. Like the first option, the Seahawks and Marshall would negotiate terms for a new deal. Once that’s in place, the Broncos, who want to part ways with Marshall anyway, could negotiate terms for compensation they would receive from Seattle for the right to sign the talented receiver.

Under that scenario, Denver does not necessarily have to receive Seattle’s No. 6 pick as compensation. The Broncos might settle for getting Seattle’s No. 14 overall pick, which the Seahawks received in a draft-day trade from Denver last season. The Broncos sent their first-round pick this season to Seattle for a second round pick in 2009, which Denver used to take Wake Forest cornerback Alphonso Smith.

If the Seahawks do sign Marshall to an offer sheet, then the Broncos have seven days to accept the offer.

There’s no doubting Marshall’s talent. At 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, Marshall has been compared to Arizona’s Anquan Boldin in terms of the physical way he plays. Marshall turns 26 on March 23, and in the last three seasons he has 307 catches – only New England’s Wes Welker has more during that time.

Marshall’s potential move to Seattle also offers some familiarity. He played for Seahawks offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates and quarterbacks coach Jedd Fisch in Denver in 2008 when Bates and Fisch coached there under Mike Shanahan. Bates served as the Denver’s offensive play-caller and Fisch as the receivers coach.

However, Marshall’s off-the-field issues offer reason for concern for the team that brings him on board.

Marshall has been arrested a handful of times and suspended by both the Broncos and the league. He held out of Denver’s offseason workouts in 2009 and asked for a trade because he was unhappy with his contract.

Last season Marshall set a league record by finishing with 21 catches for 200 yards and two touchdowns in a 28-16 loss to Indianapolis. But three weeks later, Marshall showed up late for treatment for a pulled hamstring. And with his team playing for a chance at a postseason berth, he was benched for the final game of the year – a 44-24 loss to Kansas City.

Along with Marshall, the Seahawks reportedly have several other players scheduled for visits in the next few days, including Marshall’s teammate, offensive guard Ben Hamilton; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Arnaz Battle; New England Patriots tight end Ben Watson; Baltimore Ravens defensive lineman Dwan Edwards; and Carolina Panthers defensive end Tyler Brayton.