Marshall gone, Bears move on


Alexander Aghayere

Halftime from the Sideline

By Copy Chief

Take down the highway billboards. Brandon Marshall is no longer on the Chicago Bears.

The wide receiver who single-handedly pulled a football out of the air while already mid-air against the San Francisco 49ers in the early part of last season—he jumped up, extended his arm and literally caught the ball with one hand for a touchdown—is being traded to the New York Jets.

A staple of the team’s offense since 2012, fans like myself were not expecting the 6-foot-4, 229-pound receiver to be traded at all, let alone to the Jets.

But hey, at least the Bears are benefitting from the trade.

Oh, wait.

According to the trade deal reported March 6, the Bears are getting a fifth-round pick in return for a five-time Pro Bowler.

Marshall’s height, weight and athleticism enabled him to outreach and overpower defenders—he can catch higher passes that other receivers may not be able to get their fingers on—and he provided a spark to the Bears offense by forcing double-coverage from opposing teams, leaving other receivers, namely Alshon Jeffery, open for passes.

The trade still makes sense, though…to an extent. Getting rid of Marshall means saving $7.7 million and creating $3.95 million in cap space, according to a March 6 ESPN report.

With new management, the Bears are clearly setting a tone.

Marshall had his worst receiving year in 2014 since joining the Bears with 61 receptions, compared to 100 the previous year and 118 in 2012. It wouldn’t be as much of a problem had he been able to come close to the receiving yards he caught in previous seasons, but that’s not the case. Marshall’s numbers plunged overall, and quite frankly, it’s not much of a surprise.

He’s 30 years old, which means he’s climbing the age ladder for an NFL player.

It also makes sense that Bears management would trade him because he complains to-—and about—his team in the locker room post-game and tweeted in November (apparently jokingly) that he would give a fan who provoked him with insults $5,000 to get in a boxing ring and that he would shell out another 10k if Marshall lost.

He’s also been injury-prone, which doesn’t help his case, and quarterback Jay Cutler is practically blind to other receivers when Marshall is on the field. He keeps his options predictable.

Furthermore, if the Bears keep Cutler on the roster come March 10, they will be responsible for guaranteeing him $10 million of his salary for the 2016 season.

However, Marshall’s trade cannot become official until free agency begins on March 10 at 3 p.m. Central time, and he would also have to pass a physical, according to the ESPN report.

Bears management might be taking steps in the right direction in showing the team and its fans that they are taking their jobs seriously, but how can fans sleep at night with their offensive stars gone?