One of the most dynamic veteran wideouts in the NFL might just be available at the right price as the Chicago Bears are potentially looking to press the reset button by shopping star pass catcher Brandon Marshall according to reports. A surprising, but not completely unexpected development after the Bears tried spending big to get over the hump in 2014 NFL Free Agency before having a catastrophic season that led to the firing of head coach Marc Trestman.
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Despite the constant drama in addition to slight injury problems that slowed him down, Marshall caught 61 passes for over 700 yards as well as eight touchdowns as one of the more consistent performers on a struggling Bears team. However with a large salary and the Bears needing to re-shuffle in order to change the direction of the franchise it appears that the idea of getting rid of Marshall’s contract is something the Chicago front office is high on.
According to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, NFL sources have learned that the Bears will be open to shopping around the wide receiver rather than to pay his $7.5 million and fully guaranteed deal for the upcoming season. An interesting development that is coming five days before 2015 NFL Free Agency as general managers may have the option to sacrifice mid-round draft picks for the opportunity to bring in a productive receiver who still has plenty to give at just 30 years old.
From the Chicago Tribune
"The Chicago Bears declined to commit to Brandon Marshall when asked about the veteran wide receiver last month and now the team is exploring trade options five days before the start of the new league year.One NFL source said the Bears are shopping Marshall with the idea of moving him. Another source said his belief is the team is taking calls in regard to Marshall. Trades cannot be finalized until 3 p.m. Tuesday.The key date to keep in mind with Marshall is Thursday, March 12. That is when his base salary of $7.5 million for 2015 becomes fully guaranteed.It’s not known what the Bears are seeking in exchange for Marshall, who will turn 31 at the end of the month, but it’s almost certainly less than the two third-round draft picks they sent to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for him in March 2012."
For teams with plenty of cap space and a need for talent, Marshall is an option that would be one of the best players in the free agent class at his position and could be worth a package of mid-round selections along with his $7.5 million salary. Particularly in the case of teams like the Oakland Raiders or the Jacksonville Jaguars who have young quarterbacks and a lack of veteran weapons for their draft picks that they are trying to build under center would Marshall be a good option as he is a target that makes things happen every game he steps onto the field.
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Marshall is almost certainly on his way out of Chicago due to his comments about Jay Cutler and his frustration surrounding the team’s drama over 2014 in which a team pegged for contention in the NFC North was ravaged by injuries before falling completely apart. Those struggles were far from Marshall’s fault as he was on pace for what would have been an eighth consecutive season with 1000 receiving yards if he wasn’t kept out of three games in 2014.
Because of his continued production there is going to be a market for Marshall in the coming days, potentially from a mix of contenders and buyers in free agency who are looking to get a jump on the competition by getting a 30 year old wideout who has been a threat his entire career. Sacrificing a mid-round draft pick for a wideout who has an outstanding seven 1000 yard seasons is something that almost every team in the league can justify as you likely are not going to find a 1000 yard receiver at that stage of the draft or a player who can help your team right away like Marshall can.
As for the Raiders, it might be unlikely that Reggie McKenzie would sacrifice draft picks for Marshall, but needing a weapon for Derek Carr it could be in his best interest to attempt to guarantee himself a player who would be the second best wideout in the free agent class behind the younger Randall Cobb. It has been documented time and time again that the last 1000 yard receiver in Oakland was Randy Moss, so if the Raiders want to change that trend there may be no better option than to make a move with the Bears to secure themselves a top talent without having to deal with the 31 other teams in the league on the open free agency market.