What Brandon Marshall must do to stick with the Seahawks

Brandon Marshall is no lock to make a Seahawks team that has a history of signing veterans only to cut them before the season begins. Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports

RENTON, Wash. -- Before you pencil Brandon Marshall onto the Seattle Seahawks' roster, let alone into the No. 3 spot in their wide receiving corps, it's important to remember Antoine Winfield.

Or Jahri Evans. Or Eric Winston. Or Barrett Ruud.

All four fit a similar profile. They were well-known veterans either nearing or over 30 years old, whom the Seahawks signed well into free agency as inexpensive insurance at positions where they lacked experience. None of them ended up making the team once general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll decided younger players were the better options.

In April of 2012, the Seahawks signed Ruud only to trade him after rookie second-round pick Bobby Wagner showed he was ready to start at middle linebacker.

In April of 2013, Winfield was viewed as an addition that could put Seattle's secondary over the top, but he was cut when Walter Thurmond -- finally healthy after missing 26 games over his first three seasons -- beat him out to be the team's fifth defensive back.

Winston, signed early in training camp in 2014, was the veteran who became expendable once Seattle was comfortable going with rookie second-round pick Justin Britt as the starter at right tackle and undrafted rookie Garry Gilliam as the cheaper backup.

Evans, signed early in training camp in 2016, met the same fate when the Seahawks went with rookie first-rounder Germain Ifedi at one guard spot and first-time starter Mark Glowinski on the other side.

This is not to predict it will happen to the 34-year-old Marshall, whom the Seahawks signed last month. Kevin Williams, Tony McDaniel (in his second stint) and Austin Davis are a few notable examples of veteran stopgaps who stuck around with Seattle after being signed under similar circumstances.

The point is Seattle's history, not to mention a contract that includes only $90,000 guaranteed, suggests Marshall is no lock to make the team.

Here are three things he must to do stick around:

Get healthy and stay healthy

Marshall must be healthy. It's a fairly obvious point but one that's worth stating given that Marshall, in his own estimation, has a ways to go before he's back to 100 percent.

He's coming off a season in which he played five games because of an ankle injury that required surgery. That led the New York Giants to waive him with a failed-physical designation in April. Marshall also revealed to the media after signing with Seattle that he had surgery to fix a toe injury that had been bothering him since 2015.

He did only light work during organized team activities, then didn't take part in any of the Seahawks' three minicamp practices. Carroll said that was to prevent any re-aggravation of a hamstring injury.

Speaking frankly about his own health, Marshall said late last month: "I'm not where I want to be, not even close, but my goal is to be in midseason form come camp."

Carroll also said the team expects Marshall to be ready for training camp. But with all his recent injuries, and at his age, it's hard to know how he'll be health-wise.

Outperform the youngsters

Marshall's addition made receiver perhaps the most crowded position group on the Seahawks' roster. They have 12 and will likely keep five or six on the 53-man roster.

There's plenty of potential but not much in the way of NFL production for the eight receivers behind Baldwin, Lockett, Marshall and Jaron Brown. Three of the eight (Amara Darboh, Marcus Johnson and Tanner McEvoy) have combined for 27 NFL receptions while the other five (David Moore, Cyril Grayson Jr., Damore'ea Stringfellow, Keenan Reynolds and undrafted rookie Caleb Scott) don't have any.

The Seahawks spent a 2017 third-round pick on Darboh, but he has yet to pop. They're high on Moore, a seventh-rounder from last year. Johnson (acquired in the Michael Bennett trade from Philadelphia) has seemed to click with Wilson, while Stringfellow (signed after taking part in rookie minicamp as a tryout) caught almost everything thrown his way.

Those four may represent Marshall's biggest challengers for a roster spot. He'll have to convince the Seahawks one season with him will outweigh whatever longer-term value there would be in going with one of the younger receivers.

Show he can be Russell Wilson's big target

Tight end Jimmy Graham led the team with 10 touchdowns last season but departed during free agency, leaving the Seahawks without their biggest pass-catcher.

They signed Brown (6-foot-3, 204 pounds) in free agency, adding a veteran option with some size behind starters Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett, who are both 5-10 and less than 200 pounds. It should help Marshall's prospects that Brown didn't distinguish himself during the offseason program, though Brown's two-year contract includes an $800,000 guaranteed salary for 2018.

At 6-5 and 232 pounds, Marshall is bigger than every Seahawks receiver except for McEvoy (6-6, 230).

Carroll sounds excited about what Marshall could bring to Seattle's offense as that big receiver, but his wording left the impression that nothing is a given.

"He's a big receiver, he's a physical guy, he works well in close areas, working off of defenders and all that," Carroll said. "The fact that he's been a go-to guy in his past, there's those kinds of thoughts out there. We'll see what happens. I don't know. We'll see how he fits in. Really, he's like the rest of the guys. He's got to battle for every step of the way, and he knows that. I was very emphatic about how this is going to work out, and he was fired up about it and ready to go."