Brandon Marshall, goodbye Chicago, hello New York City. The road of redemption for Marshall takes on a new route as the Chicago Bears, per NFL.com, agreed to trade their top wide receiver to the New York Jets. The misunderstood receiver now gets to utilize his platform in the one media market that is bigger than where he comes from. Marshall is an advocate for mental health reform, so it’s a perfect stage to continue delivering his message.
For Marshall, his three seasons with the Bears were productive. He caught 279 passes for 3,524 yards, with 31 touchdowns. No one can argue that he gave his all when he was on the field. The problems came about off the field. This recent year, Brandon Marshall was said to have been a disruptive force in the Bears locker room. One of those incidents, reported by the Washington Post, was a shouting match with kicker Robbie Gould.
The argument came after an embarrassing loss to the Miami Dolphins, Marshall’s former team. What escalated the scene was his post-game rant where he uttered the word “unacceptable” 17 times.
Tumultuous is a description that was often used when discussing the Chicago Bears’ locker room. While most of the blame was placed on the shoulders, or the throwing arm, of quarterback Jay Cutler, some observers were none too pleased about Marshall taking the role of the vocal leader. While it did not make for a divided workspace, there was some definite tension. Enough so that moving on without the pass catcher was quickly becoming a realistic possibility.
Before the season Brandon Marshall put the season’s success on his & Jay Cutler’s shoulders. Who gets the blame? http://t.co/viUkZBvjcc
— ESPN First Take (@ESPN_FirstTake) March 6, 2015
Ask the local sports radio and television personalities in Chicago about whether they wanted to see Brandon Marshall leave and you will hear a near unanimous yes. The discord between him and the local media almost seemed personal. Only few would separate the personal feelings over the productivity.
Judging from the Bears’ trade with the Jets, there was not a trace of anything personal. It was a business decision to trade away the best receiver in the history of the franchise.
Marshall was due to make a guaranteed $7.5 million in a few days. If the Bears were to find a team willing to take on his talents, that money would be removed from the books, leaving roughly over $4 million of extra money to work with during NFL free-agency. The Bears already had a lot of cap room to sign players, but they need depth in all areas of the team. This deal was more about salary cap flexibility than dismissing a talented player.
There is a huge need for defensive players on this team. The Bears have holes on the defensive line, they need a couple of quality linebackers, and there is a long-standing need at the safety position. The money that will be saved by trading Brandon Marshall could very likely be allocated there.
Is it too early to grade this trade from a Bears standpoint? Yes! There is now a need for a wide receiver. The free agency class has a couple of interesting names, including Green Bay’s Randall Cobb. Also, the upcoming NFL Draft is rich in the receiver corps, with several receivers who will be taken in the second, third, and fourth rounds who will have first round grades on many draft boards. The Bears now have an additional pick – they will get a fifth round selection from the Jets as compensation.
While many fans personally do not agree that parting ways with Marshall was the right idea (many fans would have rather seen Cutler sent to another address), the deal is done. Now fans must wait to see what the follow-up move will become. It is then that judgment can be given. Just know that when deciding the case of Brandon Marshall, the personal feelings or the productivity, the Chicago Bears chose none of the above.
Mr. Brandon Marshall, the New York media is the next stop for your redemption act. Wish you well.
[Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images]