Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports
Recently released former Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline is scheduled to make a visit to the Chicago Bears on Wednesday ahead of free agency. Could Hartline spell the end for Brandon Marshall in Chicago? It would be a strange twist of fate that one friend could supplant another on the Bears roster. Hartline and Marshall were teammates with the Miami Dolphins in 2010 and 2011.
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For those who think that Hartline could fill the needed Wes Welker type of slot wide receiver role that the Bears have been lacking and add him to the mix with Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, think again. Besides both being white, Hartline and Welker have very different games. Hartline stands 6’2″ and weighs 200 pounds; Welker checks in a 5’9″ and 185. Hartline is typically an outside wide receiver and would play the same position and Jeffery and/or Marshall.
Hartline was released by the Dolphins earlier this week after a disappointing 2014 campaign in which he had a career low in receiving yards and only mustered 39 catches and 2 TD’s. In his six seasons, Hartline has over 298 catches for 4200 yards and 12 TD’s.
So unless the Bears are looking to add some depth to the wide receiver position, adding Hartline could mean the Bears are paving the way to usher Brandon Marshall out of town. The Bears face a March 10th deadline to make a decision on Marshall or a chunk of his 2015 salary becomes guaranteed.
Marshall had a down year of his own in 2014. He suffered an ankle injury in Week 1 and struggled to stay healthy enough to show his usual burst for much of the season. But it was Marshall’s locker room antics and off the field issues that drew the ire of Bears management.
Marshall insisted on holding a press conference in an effort to refute old domestic violence claims against him that bubbled up in the wake of the Ray Rice situation. Marshall also signed up to do a weekly hit on Inside the NFL, entailing a weekly trip to New York on his off day. The locker room tirade after the Bears loss to the Dolphins in Week 7 brought a lot of the Bears locker room chaos to the surface.
Talk of a Marshall/Cutler rift heated up when Marshall echoed statements that he would have had buyer’s remorse over the Cutler contract too. As the start of the new league year inches closer, it’s possible that neither Marshall nor Jay Cutler will be in the Bears’ plans in 2015.