The Chicago Bears and Brandon Marshall appear to be on a collision course days ahead of the March 12th start of the new league year. According to the Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs, the Bears are actively exploring trade options for the mercurial wide receiver.
"One NFL source said the Bears are shopping Marshall with the idea of moving him. Another source said his belief is the team is taking calls in regard to Marshall."
Marshall’s hefty $7.5 million base salary becomes fully guaranteed and with his $200k workout bonus, the Bears are would be on the hook for $7.7 million in 2015. If the Bears were successful in trading Marshall, they’d free up just shy of $4 million in cap space, although he’d still count $5.6 million in dead money.
Don’t think Marshall hasn’t noticed:
If the Bears were to trade or even cut Marshall, new GM Ryan Pace would be sending a clear message that there’s a new sheriff in town.
Marshall had a rough season in 2014, only recording 61 catches for 721 yards and 8 TD’s, lows in both catches and yards since his second year in 2007. But besides the dip in production on the field, it’s the noise off the field that has many speculating that this could be the end of the road for Marshall in Chicago. From his Showtime Inside the NFL appearances to his locker room outbursts, he seems to have worn out his welcome.
New Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase had a firsthand look at Marshall at his worst. Gase was wide receivers coach in Denver the first season after the Broncos traded away Jay Cutler. Marshall was routinely throwing tantrums during training camp, punting balls and not running his routes.
If the Bears are able to trade Marshall, you have to wonder what a 31-year old wide receiver who’s never made a playoff appearance and would be moving on from his third team in nine seasons. The Bears gave up a pair of 3rd round selections to grab Marshall from the Miami Dolphins before the 2012 season. Most believe that Marshall might not command more than a mid-round selection in return, especially with rumors swirling that the Bears may cut him before next Thursday if they can’t find a dance partner.
If Marshall leaves, it opens up a huge void in the Bears offense. Say what you will about Marshall’s off field and locker room antics, he has been very productive for the Bears on the field, accounting for 31 touchdowns and over 3500 yards in three seasons in the navy and orange. Alshon Jeffery, who had a breakout season in 2013, would become the #1 wide receiver option. Jeffery exploded on the scene in his second season with 89 catches for 1421 yards and 7 touchdowns, including a few highlight reel grabs.
Jeffery enters the last year of his rookie deal in 2015. The Bears will likely discover if he is worth a #1 wide receiver contract that his agent will undoubtedly be seeking. Can Jeffery flourish without Marshall drawing attention on the other side? Besides Alshon, the Bears don’t really have any proven wide receivers. There were high hopes that 2013 7th round pick Marquess Wilson would develop into the #3 receiver last season, but a collarbone injury in training camp cost him half his season and by the time he returned, he couldn’t get into the flow of the offense.
What do you think. Should the Bears move on from Brandon Marshall? Are his locker room and off field antics worth the production on the field? Was 2014 a blip, result of injuries or is he starting to decline?