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Free Agent Snapshot: Richard Marshall

03.01.12 at 11:26 pm ET

We continue our look at 15 possible fits for the Patriots in free agency this offseason with a breakdown of cornerback Richard Marshall. With the understanding that the NFL’€™s franchise tag window is from now until March 5 (which means some of these players we list could ultimately be retained by their team) here are some players worth keeping an eye on that might be a fit in New England when free agency begins March 13:

Richard Marshall
Position: Cornerback
Age: 27 (turns 28 on Dec. 12)
Height: 5-foot-11
Weight: 198 pounds

Full disclosure here: this idea was planted during an episode of the ‘€œIt Is What It Is’€ Podcast with Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus, which was taped earlier this week (and should be released on Monday). But the more you look at Marshall, the more you ponder his numbers and how he might possibly fit into the New England defense, his acquisition would make sense. A solid veteran corner who would come relatively cheaply, he played for Bill Belichick pal Pat Hill at Fresno State, and was someone the Patriots sniffed around before the 2006 draft. Last season with the Cardinals, he played on the outside as a corner, in the slot and at safety.

Marshall is not considered an elite corner, but has built a rep as a dependable presence over the course of his six seasons in the league (five with Carolina, one with Arizona.) Last season with the Cardinals, per PFF, in 848 snaps, he allowed 394 receiving yards, 95 of which came on one play. In all, he was only thrown at 54 times all season and yielded 28 receptions represents, an impressive 51.9 percent mark. (By way of comparison, the closest Patriots’€™ model was probably Kyle Arrington, who played 991 snaps, was thrown at 100 times and allowed 54 receptions and 810 receiving yards.)

As we’€™ve stated on several occasions, New England has some decisions to make on what to do with their secondary going forward. But the low-risk addition of a versatile, relatively consistent performer like Marshall who could presumably step in and play significant snaps in 2012 would be an intriguing one, and likely represent something of an upgrade from the rest of the nickel corner possibilities that are currently on the roster.

(One story that’€™s worth remembering when it comes to Marshall and the Patriots: As a member of the Panthers in 2009, he and teammate Chris Gamble were critical of Randy Moss‘€™s effort against in a Carolina-New England game, one where the Patriots won, 20-10. The day after the game, Belichick took a shot at Marshall and Gamble, saying, ‘€œI think Randy is a great player. Most teams we play think the same thing. I guess these two guys from Carolina didn’€™t think so after they lost again.’€)

Why it might not work: The Patriots have gone down this road before with veteran corners in a similar situation, and it can be a mixed bag. Sometimes, you get a guy who can be a perfect fit, even for a brief time (like Leigh Bodden was in 2009). Other times, not so much (like Shawn Springs the same year). There’€™s also the fact that all of those positive things about Marshall have caught the eye of the Cardinals, which would mean they’€™d push to sign Marshall to a multiyear deal. (He just finished up a one-year contract with Arizona.) In that same vein, Arizona will be under the cap, but not so much that they’€™ll be major players in free agency.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Chris Gamble, free agent snapshot, Kyle Arrington



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