This morning, multiple media outlets reported the Chicago Bears are shopping wide receiver Brandon Marshall. This isn’t groundbreaking news, despite the attention it is receiving, as just yesterday we wrote about the uncertainty regarding Marshall’s future in the Windy City.
Yet it does prove the club’s desire to move on from Marshall, who is being run out of town for the third time in his NFL career.
Marshall is an elite talent and set numerous franchise records in his two Pro Bowl seasons with the Bears. In reality, he’s the best receiver to ever play in the Windy City, and it’s not even close, but his upcoming departure from the club goes beyond his value on the field.
In 2014, the wheels came off for Marshall, who made more news off the field than his career-low numbers did on the field.
After a Week 7 loss to the Miami Dolphins, Marshall called out Jay Cutler and berated teammate Robbie Gould in the post-game locker room. He then challenged a Lions fan to a boxing match and threatened Lions center Dominic Raiola with physical violence on Twitter, went on a 40-minute rant against the wishes of Bears brass to defend his history of domestic violence, and called a Chicago radio host a “clown” roughly 10 times on air. He also said publicly he would’ve had “buyer’s remorse” for signing Cutler to his large contract, cracking an already unstable relationship between quarterback and receiver.
Marshall has said multiple times he’s “too real” for some people. Count Bears ownership in that group.
New GM Ryan Pace and head coach John Fox would not commit to Marshall during the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine a few weeks ago. Like ownership, it appears the new decision makers don’t want the headache either.
But what can the Bears legitimately expect in return for trading Marshall?
Honestly, not that much. The Dolphins in 2012 were so tired of Marshall, who was still in his prime then, they sent him packing for just two third-round picks. This time around, the Bears will be lucky to get one third-round pick. Most likely, they’ll have to settle for a fourth- or fifth-round pick.
Marshall will soon be 31 years old and is coming off an injury-marred season in which he caught just 61 passes for 721 yards, his lowest totals since his rookie season. He’s due $7.5 million in base salary next year and carries a $9.57 million cap hit.
In addition, he’s proven for the third time in nine seasons that he’s not a good teammate and has the potential to tear apart a locker room. And finally, despite the elite numbers he’s posted for most of his career, he’s not a winner, having never participated in a single playoff game.
No doubt there will be suitors for Marshall’s services. If he’s fully recovered from the ankle and rib injuries that derailed his 2014 campaign, he could have a lot of value in an established offense with a solid locker room. Teams like the Patriots, Seahawks and Ravens will surely have interest but none will be willing to break the bank for him.
If the Bears can’t find a suitable trade partner for Marshall, there’s the real possibility they’ll outright waive him. The club would be on the hook for $5.62 million in dead money but would clear $3.95 million in cap space by cutting him.
Typically, when a team looks to trade an aging veteran, it usually means they’ll waive him if no other team takes the bait. Either way, moving Marshall must happen before next Thursday, March 12, which is when his 2015 base salary become fully guaranteed.
This process won’t drag out.
One way or another, it appears Marshall’s career in Chicago is over and the Bears will be forced to accept whatever they can get in return for a player they can’t get out the door fast enough.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fifth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter.