Bear Report’s Aaron Leming was first to report this morning the Chicago Bears will be trading wide receiver Brandon Marshall to the New York Jets. ESPN’s Adam Schefter confirmed the report an hour later.
Details of the trade cannot be confirmed, although it’s believed to be for a fifth-round pick. The Bears cannot officially trade Marshall until the start of free agency, this upcoming Tuesday at 3 p.m.
Marshall carries a base salary of $7.5 million in 2015, with a $9.57 million cap hit. The Bears will carry $5.625 in dead money due to Marshall's contract extension signed last offseason, yet will clear $3.95 million in cap space.
Marshall spent three seasons in the Windy City and set franchise records in receptions (118) and receiving yards (1,508) in 2012. He followed that up in 2013 with a 100-catch, 1,295-yard campaign. He earned trips to the Pro Bowl his first two years in Chicago.
Yet Marshall had the second worst season of his career in 2014, recording just 61 catches for 721 yards. He also made plenty of news off the field, which didn't sit well with ownership.
At the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine last month, new GM Ryan Pace would not commit to Marshall in the long-term.
"We met with him like a lot of individual players and that's going to be a slow process and we look forward to evaluating that," Pace said in Indianapolis. "Sometimes these reputations outside the building, you get inside and it's not what you expected and I think we need to make our own decisions and our own judgements and that's the process we're going through right now.
“There are a lot of things that happen with every NFL team. And obviously those are things that occurred and we’re analyzing that and researching those things. But it’s not just one player. There are a lot of things that are going on. Why is a team not successful? And you’re trying to dive into all those specifics. I know this, football needs to be the number one priority. And we’re going to win a lot of games if we keep football our number one priority.”
Obviously, Pace and new head coach John Fox want to the wipe the slate clean. That process may include Jay Cutler as well, who was not given a vote of confidence either.
"We're still evaluating all that," Pace said of Cutler's future. "Obviously going through this whole thing so again I don't want to rush into any decisions. I want to max out the time that we have and just be thorough with every one of these."
Moving Cutler would need to happen before next Thursday, March 12, when another $10 million of his contract becomes guaranteed.
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.