Former Broncos LB Brandon Marshall was left without a team until “Jon Gruden came through”

AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post Brandon Marshall (54) of the Denver Broncos sizes Derek Carr (4) of the Oakland Raiders up during the third quarter on Sunday, Sept. 16, 2017.

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He’ll still wear No. 54 and play in the AFC West.

Everything else? Different for Brandon Marshall.

A key cog of the Broncos’ defense for years, Marshall moved on to the Oakland Raiders earlier this offseason after the Broncos declined his 2019 contract option.

The colors Broncos fans loathe are now Marshall’s new uniform.

“It is kind of different,” he said. “It’s just crazy because I was always in orange and blue, hating the black and silver. Now I’ll be in silver and black trying to beat the Broncos. It’s going to be an adjustment period, but I’m excited.”

Marshall was back in the area Thursday night to host a benefit for the Williams-Marshall Cares Program. His mother and several close friends live in Denver and he plans on continuing his charitable efforts here. The vision of the charity is to develop programs for boys and girls ages 14-18 to be “responsible leaders through acts of service and dedication.”

Marshall became a fixture in the Denver community and for the Broncos during a career that started on the practice squad in 2013. He played in two Super Bowls and started 63 of 74 games, making 423 tackles.

After an admittedly inconsistent 2017, Marshall’s 2018 was derailed by a knee injury (bone bruise). He missed five games and was limited to sub-package situations upon his return, making it no surprise to him that the Broncos elected to not keep him.

Marshall was surprised, though, by how long it took him to find a new team — 18 days after the negotiating period started.

“Actually, it went completely the opposite of how I thought it would,” Marshall said. His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told him Arizona and the Los Angeles Chargers were the initial teams to show interest.

“Right at the 11th hour, they both pulled out and signed other linebackers,” Marshall said.

The Cardinals and Chargers signed Jordan Hicks and Thomas Davis, respectively.

The next wave was Baltimore and the New York Jets. The Jets signed C.J. Mosley.

“Everything just kind of went left,” Marshall said. “And then it went kind of quiet on me for a second. It was a little disheartening. But you know what? Jon Gruden came through. He said, ‘I’ve been a big fan of Brandon for a long time.’ ”

Gruden connected with Rosenhaus at the league’s annual meeting in Arizona, and Marshall signed a one-year contract.

During his visit to the Raiders’ Bay Area facility, Gruden and Co., were up front — the offer was for one year. But they talked about the move to Las Vegas (Marshall’s hometown) in 2020.

“That’s what they sold me on,” he said. “They said, ‘We want you to help us plant the flag in Vegas. We feel like you’re a leader. We need leaders on the defense. We need alphas on the defense.’ That made me feel good.

“When I went there, they showed me the whole model for the Vegas stadium and I was (like), ‘OK, that’s a selling point for me.’ I’m not sure about everybody else, but me, they knew, ‘Let’s talk to Brandon about Vegas.’ And it worked.”

What hasn’t worked is the Broncos’ plan since winning the Super Bowl. They enter this year having missed the playoffs in three consecutive seasons. After he signed with Oakland, Marshall said in a radio interview that there was a disconnect on the Broncos’ defense.

On Thursday, he said: “I felt like certain details on the field, we weren’t on the same page as players and as coaches. We would talk and the linebackers would think we’re supposed to do things one way and the (defensive backs) would think it’s the other way. Everything just wasn’t solidified. You saw it on the field.”

Marshall will play outside linebacker in the Raiders’ 4-3 scheme, the same spot he played in Jacksonville and early in his Denver career. The key will be staying available.

“I just actually started (training) this week,” Marshall said. “It took me awhile to get back right, but I feel good. The Raiders took care of me. Shout out to them. I think they took care of me better than any training staff has so far. That’s no shot at anybody else, but they went above and beyond and I appreciated that.”

Marshall’s Raiders debut will be at home against the Broncos.

“It’s going to be emotional,” he said. “It’s going to be a great game. The Broncos always play well in the first game. I plan on having my guys ready and, hopefully, we get the win.”

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