"Actually, I wanted a contract last year," Marshall said today at Halas Hall. "[GM] Phil [Emery] made a promise to me last year. He told me the game plan. He was honest. He told me, ‘Brandon, we couldn't do it.' He told me the game plan and he stuck to it."
That game plan included signing 33 players from the final week of the 2013 campaign until now, before inking Marshall through the 2017 season. It wasn't an easy process, one that took a while to complete.
"It took a couple of months," said Marshall. "It was tough at times."
Marshall, whose production the past eight years rivals any receiver in the NFL, will make just $10 million per season from 2015-2017, which is far less than the vast majority of his contemporaries. When you consider Kansas City's Dwayne Bowe averages $11 million per season, you know the Bears got a great deal.
Yet for Marshall, it wasn't about the money.
"I think my numbers speak for themselves, but when you look at allocation, I would love to be the highest-paid receiver in the league. I think every guy should work toward that," Marshall said. "But we're able to have guys like [Jermond] Bushrod, we're able to have Matt Forte, Martellus Bennett, we have these guys that mean so much to this offense and the success of this team. It's one of those things that you really have to sit back and ask yourself, what is it really about? That was the biggest thing through negotiations."
Since arriving in Chicago, Marshall has shattered nearly every receiving record in the club's history books, including a 2012 campaign in which he broke team marks in catches (118) and receiving yards (1,508).
Yet what separates Marshall most is his yearly consistency. Since joining the league in 2006, he ranks third in the NFL in catches (712), fifth in receiving yards (9,050) and sixth in receiving touchdowns (57).
He has also rubbed off on fellow receiver Alshon Jeffery, who broke out in a big way last season with 89 catches for 1,421 yards and 7 TDs. Marshall and Jeffery combined for 2,716 receiving yards last year, second most in the league and most in a single season in franchise history.
Marshall believes Jeffery, if he stays healthy and consistent, will soon receive a big payday as well.
"When you look at Alshon and the allocation of our offense, we've got so many guys getting paid. But for us to be special guys have to make tough decisions. I had to make a tough decision," said Marshall. "Alshon has potential. We can't crown him right now. You have to be consistent. You have to stay healthy. He has all the potential in the world if he can do that, if he can stay humble. That's what got him here. So if he can do that, he'll set himself up to secure his family and get him some stability. I think we have the guys in this locker room that can really help him with that."
The Bears bring back all 11 offensive starters in Marc Trestman's second year, which has many believing this could be a special year for the offense.
"What we did last year was really tough," Marshall said. "You bring in a new coach with a really sophisticated offense, like we like to say, it's science to our football. You've got Jay [Cutler], he's been in different offenses almost every other year. It's a tough transition, so for us to make that big of leap last year says a lot about our coaching staff and our players. So this year I think that that's something to build off and we can possibly even be better."
Marshall said Trestman is a big reason he chose to sign the extension.
"Coach Trestman, man I've played for some great coaches. Coach [Mike] Shanahan was a great coach, X and Os, one of the best in the business. What I'm about to say about coach has nothing to do with football: [Trestman's] the best in the business. Coach is amazing. He's a man that I look up to. He's a man that I would like to be one day.
"The culture that he's forming here with the help of Phil and the McCaskeys and everyone upstairs, I've never been around it. He puts us in position every single day to grow as men. To be honest I don't think we would be sitting here if it wasn't for coach and me believing in him and his coaching staff."
At this point in his career, Marshall said the only thing that's left is to win a Super Bowl.
"We need to get back to the Super Bowl," he said. "This organization, this city deserves a Super Bowl and I think we are primed and ready to do that."
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fourth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.