Marshall Extension the Ultimate Risk – Reward for Emery and Chicago Bears

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Dec 29, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall (center) celebrates his touchdown with wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (left) and wide receiver Marquess Wilson (right) during the second half against the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field. Green Bay won 33-28. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

In his two seasons since joining the Bears, Marshall has 218 catches for over 2800 yards and 23 touchdowns, already securing a place in Chicago Bears record books.  But equally important is what Marshall has done off the field in terms of leadership and mentoring that’s really impressed GM Phil Emery:

"“He is healthy,” Emery said on WSCR-AM 670. “He feels great. We have a really good relationship. He gets along very well with his teammates. Obviously, the things he did during the offseason to show leadership and to help pull the team together, they mean a lot; they mean a lot to our other players. It just shows the quality of person he is.”"

The new contract is a testament to Marshall and how he’s turned his life around, which is why it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Marshall donated $1 million to mental health awareness.  Marshall was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and has used that diagnosis to not only turn his career around, but to turn his life around.  He’s gone from a “clubhouse cancer” to the focal point of a team’s offseason activities.

The Bears offseason program only officially kicked off a few weeks ago, but it was in full swing in South Florida at Marshal’s Fitspeed Academy for months.  Marshall took Alshon Jeffery under his wing last offseson with Pro Bowl results.  It’s drawn several Bears players into the offseason program while building camaraderie and chemistry this offseason.  And it’s not just wide receivers in on the act.  Jay Cutler and and Jordan Palmer, Matt Forte, several offensive linemen and a few defensive players were all part of Marshall’s #southbear program.

It looks like the gamble that Phil Emery took at the onset of the 2012 league year has paid off, but the big key will be for Marshall to continue on this trajectory for the duration of the extension.  Marshall turned 30 a couple of months ago and there are certainly questions about production as players move into that decade of their lives.  Besides, Marshall is just a year removed from repair to a hip that’s required multiple surgeries.

Phil Emery’s initial gamble on Marshall was a high risk, high reward move so far.  Let’s hope this latest gamble turns out the same.