The smile that creases Brandon Marshall's face is a sly, "Yeah, we'll see," kind of grin.
"Nah, I'm done," the 13-year veteran said, when asked Wednesday if he can still do it. "I'm washed up. What my film says this year is what it is. So, that's what it is."
But Marshall doesn't believe that the film entirely spills the truth.
An abbreviated stay and limited production this season in Seattle – 11 catches for 136 yards and a touchdown in seven games – were preceded by offseason toe and ankle surgery that triggered a slow start.
"And the first couple of weeks of the season for me was like camp," Marshall said. "I remember being in camp, and I just ran a simple hitch route, and my knee just – something happened in my knee, my knee started flaring up. I was out for a day but, it's like, it takes time. It just takes time to get in football shape."
Marshall is in football shape now, which is one of the reasons he had a strong workout for the New Orleans Saints, and one of the reasons that he received and accepted an offer to sign with the team after Dez Bryant ruptured his Achilles last Friday.
Marshall and Bryant worked out for the Saints on the same day, Nov. 6.
"I know the narrative is that I'm done," he said. "So getting out there and showing…being a big guy (6 feet 5, 232 pounds), running, getting in and out of my breaks, catching the ball, strong hands, picking up things fast – there's just so much to it. I can't pinpoint one thing but I know that I felt really good about the workout, so I was really devastated when it didn't work out."
It worked out that his denial became a delay. And the Saints are eager to see what he can add to an offense that already leads the league in scoring (36.7 points per game), is fifth in total offense (413.9 yards per game) and seventh in passing yards (287.1).
"I'm excited about him," quarterback Drew Brees said. "I've known him for a long time, our paths have crossed doing a bunch of things off the field. Played in a Pro Bowl together, back when it was in Hawaii (in 2014; both were selected in '13, but Marshall didn't play due to injury).
"I've known of him for a long time, really heard a lot of good things about him. I've been a fan of his, just watching him on film. He's a very smart, veteran guy who's very fluid. I've seen him in a lot of different offenses really be successful, both as an outside receiver, as an inside receiver. I think he's very versatile, there's a lot of things he can do. He's a big target, so big catching radius. Just watching him on today was pretty impressive. I'm excited about having him."
Marshall's extensive background – New Orleans is his seventh team – will speed up his learning curve.
"I've had nine different offensive coordinators," he said. "So, a slant is a slant, a seam is a seam. You've just got to understand terminology, and the quarterback's timing. But for the most part, I'm comfortable with what we're doing here. I've still got a lot to catch up on.
"I've been in pro-style offenses, I've been in offenses similar to this. I've been in the 'Wildcat' a little bit in Miami. So I've done it all. To me it's just, it's offense. I think what's really helping me right now is I've been in this system for two years (with the Bears in 2013-14), with (current Rams offensive line) coach (Aaron) Kromer, who spent a lot of time here."
Kromer, an assistant under Saints coach Sean Payton from 2008-12, was Chicago's offensive coordinator in '13-'14, "So the running game was identical," Marshall said.
"And then (former Bears head) Coach (Marc) Trestman (in '13-'14) spent time here interning and just being a shadow and other that things he was doing. So we did a lot of the things. When you talk about the splits, those little details are the same. But then, there's obviously things that are different in the playbook. There are some things that, it's just memory. Once you pick up the terminology, you understand where you're supposed to be, when you're supposed to be there."
Brees said he doesn't foresee a reason why Marshall won't quickly pick up the offense.
"I think the good thing about a veteran guy is that the majority of the time, these are concepts that he's seen before and done before," Brees said. "They might be called something slightly different, so really then it just becomes a verbiage thing and maybe a little bit of memorization as to what we call it.
"But as far as how the route is run, where the hole is in the defense, why you're calling the route, what you're looking for, what are the adjustments off of it, these are things that a veteran receiver like him, who has that type of experience, knows."