- Sean Jensen at the Chicago Sun-Times points out some of the many positives about the Bears trade of two third round draft picks for wide receiver Brandon Marshall:
“The Bears were linked to Vincent Jackson, a two-time Pro Bowl selection. But Jackson is nearly two years older than Marshall, who turns 28 on March 23, and his price tag was much higher. Jackson signed a five-year contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that averages $11.1 million a year, nearly $2 million more than Marshall.”
“Marshall joins the Arizona Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald and the Atlanta Falcons’ Roddy White as the only receivers to top 1,000 receiving yards in each of the last five seasons. He holds the NFL record with 21 catches in a single game.”
- Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune also highlights some positives.
“What Marshall can do, with size and explosiveness, is make big plays. He had 16 receptions of 25 yards or more last year, which was fourth most in the NFL according to Stats.”
“He was the star of stars at the last Pro Bowl and was awarded the most valuable player award for catching six passes for 174 yards and four touchdowns. He owns the NFL single-game record for catches with 21 against the Colts in 2009.”
“Marshall should make Cutler better quickly, according to one pro scout, because he will give him more margin for error.
“’Brandon is bigger than Devin Hester or Johnny Knox, so Cutler can throw it to an area and Marshall can go get it,’ he said. ‘That makes Cutler more accurate.’”
- Pompei points out a negative:
“If history is an indicator, Marshall will be high maintenance in the locker room and away from Halas Hall.”
“Marshall better get the football.
“If he does not, he can be disruptive. Marshall has a history of complaining and pouting if things don’t go his way.”
- And Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune also makes a good point:
“Marshall, 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, is also known as a rugged blocker in the running game, something that will make him an ideal fit for new coordinator Mike Tice.”
- At least I think we’ve seen the last of this anyway:
- David Haugh at the Chicago Tribune makes this good point as he literally gushes over the trade:
“Symbolically and otherwise, striking with the Marshall trade so soon after free agency began illustrated [general manager Phil] Emery understood the urgency of fixing the Bears’ offense before anything else.”
No matter what you think of the moves Emery made yesterday, one thing is certain. He did act decisively and with urgency to fill some needs. A good sign. A better one will be if he turns out to have gotten the right guys.
- Jensen also points out one major disadvantage to the trade for Marshall: the fact that he eats up a lot of their available cap space. The Bears had roughly $24 million in space before the Marshall signing and he will account for almost $10 million of that. $14 million probably won’t allow them to sign a Mario Williams and take care of their draft picks and other free agents at the same time. So Williams is probably not a possibility any more.
- Pompei agrees that the Bears are likely out of the running for Williams. He suggests alther options such as re-signing Israel Idonije and/or making a run at Kamerion Wimbley if the Raiders cut him. The Raiders need to either guaranteed $17.5 million by Sunday or let him walk. They don’t currently have the cap space to do that.
- Jensen also reports on the signing of back up quarterback Jason Campbell. Campbell played well for the Raiders last year before being injured, going 4-2 as a starter.
- Pompei also had this to say after the Campbell signing:
“Although veteran Josh McCown did some good things toward the end of last season, some in the organization view him as a No. 3 quarterback.”
I think your number 3 had better be a developmental guy. An interesting question that will need ot be answered in the coming months is whether Nathan Enderle will be that guy or will it be someone else?
- Biggs reports that the Bears also signed linebacker Blake Costanzo, probably because they realized Corey Graham would probably not be returning. He’s a special teams standout
“’I always respected what he did and how he worked at his craft — and he’s not the biggest guy, he’s not the strongest guy,’ [49ers special teams coach Brad] Seely told the Associated Press this last season. ‘But he’s one of those guys that his whole is much better than the parts. What he brings on Sunday is really a unique situation for us in special teams in the sense that he’s really good at his job.’”
- Pompei also reports on the resigning of cornerback Tim Jennings:
“’I’m happy. I’m satisfied,’ Jennings said. ‘I got it over and done with. I just wanted the Bears to show me love. I feel like I’ve put in a good amount of the work the last few years. I didn’t really want to test free agency out. I just wanted to be wanted. Free agency wasn’t an option.’”
“The move means the team no longer has cornerback as a major need, though the Bears still could use a corner. It is likely the team will either draft a cornerback or sign a free agent who is not in high demand.”
“The Bears coaching staff would like to see him make more plays on the football.”
Yes, the Bears still need a corner. Jennings is good insurance but they’d rather have someone better, I think. After all is said and done, fans will recall that the Bears did bench Jennings at one point last year for allowing too many big plays. His resigning is probably more an indication that they didn’t see anyone in free agency that they thought they could sign at the right price and they didn’t want to gamble on finding the right guy in the draft.
- Pompei answers your questions:
“What are the chances of the Bears signing a left tackle and a wide receiver in free agency and going heavy on defense in the draft to add some much needed youth on that side of the ball? — Steve Larsen; Sebring, Fla.
“I like the way you are thinking Steve. I wouldn’t get too excited about landing a left tackle in free agency though. The left tackle free agent class will be very, very thin — possibly non-existent. And the last we heard, the Bears are confident that J’Marcus Webb can improve enough to handle the position. But the idea of going with defense in the draft is a good one. The Bears defense doesn’t just need to add good players, it needs to add good, young players.”
I really don’t understand why the Bears are stuck on J’Marcus Webb as the left tackle of the future. Virtually everyone else who has eyes can see that Webb doesn’t have what it takes to handle the position. In a division full of excellent defensive linemen, they need a left tackle badly.
- On a related note, Khaled Elsayed at Pro Football Focus tells us how much they love free agent Eric Winston, who was just released from the Houston Texans. Winston is a right tackle but the Bears could be in the market if they’re willing to move either him or Gabe Carimi to the left. Probably the best free agent lineman is still Jared Gaither, who is a true left tackle. He is still a possibility.
- On the other hand, we have this question to Pompei:
“Given how hard it is to get good, starting offensive tackles in free agency, should the Bears draft an OLT in the first round and use free agency to upgrade at WR and DE? If not, who will be the Bears swing tackle in 2012? — Paul Taylor; Chandler, Ariz.
“If a left tackle who is an excellent value is available at 19, I’d have no problem if the Bears selected him. I don’t suspect that will be the case, however. There probably are three offensive tackles worth taking that high — Matt Kalil of Southern Cal, Riley Reiff of Iowa and Jonathan Martin of Stanford. My hunch is all three will be off the board by the time the Bears pick, and better values will be available at other positions. The Bears’ swing tackle in 2012 very well could be Chris Williams, or, if Williams wins a starting offensive tackle job, the swing tackle could be Webb. Either way, at this point it looks like Williams is moving back to tackle.”
I note that Mel Kiper at ESPN has both Bobby Massie and Mike Adams ranked above Jonathan Martin in his position rankings. Adams, at least, projects as a left tackle. In fact, Kiper has him going to the Bears in his latest mock draft. Adams posted disappointing numbers in the bench press at the combine. But I’m guessing that how Adams performed on tape is what’s going to count with Emery.
Adams was an inconsistent performer but when he was on, he showed immense talent on the field. He might be a guy to watch.
- And Pompei fields another good question:
“Will the Bears draft an outside linebacker and start him or sign a free agent? Nick Roach is an average linebacker at best. — Tawone Miller, Chicago
“I think there is a good chance the starting linebackers in 2012 will be Roach, Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs. I don’t believe the Bears will actively try to replace Roach, though there is a chance they could draft a linebacker in the high rounds with the thought that he will be an eventual replacement for Urlacher or Briggs. If that player can be an immediate upgrade from Roach, he could start out as the strong side linebacker this year. The only other complicating factor in the linebacker scenario is Briggs’ unhappiness with his contract. There remains a chance Briggs could play elsewhere this season, but I think it’s a slim chance.”
Its been easy to ignore the linebacker position with Urlacher and Briggs as steady performers. But I think everyone agrees that its high time the Bears paid some attention to it.
- Head coach Lovie Smith had lunch with wide receiver Stephen Hill, a potential draft pick. Hill impressed at the combine with his size and speed but isn’t known for having very good hands. He sounds to me like a Raider but safe to say the Bears are interested. Via Biggs.
- On a related note, ESPN NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert points out that Smith was on hand to watch wide receiver Justin Blackmon workout. As the Bears have absolutely no shot at drafting Blackmon, I can only assume there’s another Okalahoma State player on their radar.
- Probably the most disturbing aspect of the New Orleans Saints bounty program isn’t the involvement of defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Its the involvement of a somewhat shady character named Michael Ornstein, who is profiled by the web site Dead Spin here. Ornstein is a close friend and confidant of Sean Payton.
“Ornstein on at least four occasions pledged his own money to the Saints’ defense’s bounty fund. In 2009, $10,000 toward knocking an opposing quarterback out of the game. In 2011, two separate contributions to targeting the quarterback. And on at least one other occasion, Ornstein pledged his money in an email to Payton, which spelled out the details of the bounty program.
“The NFL knows this because it has that email, a highly incriminating paper trail that makes it impossible for Payton to argue his innocence, or for the Saints to claim the bounty never left the locker room. It might be the single most damaging piece of evidence, based solely on Ornstein’s history.”
- NFLPA spokesman George Atallah told The Associated Press that they asked the league to hold off on any punishment for the Saints until they were done gathering information from their own investigation. I still don’t understand why the union is investigating this at all.
- The Redskins move up to the Rams #2 spot in the draft so they could take Robert Griffin III prompted this interesting observation from Seifert:
“As you assuredly know, the Vikings were on track to have the NFL’s second-worst record before they defeated the Redskins 33-26 in Week 16. (Tailback Adrian Peterson also suffered a major knee injury in that game, an unrelated but no less serious event.) After Friday night’s trade, we now know the difference between winning and losing that game was two future first-round picks and a second-rounder.”
- Vikings fans are also getting restless as they appear to be laggards in free agency. Via Siefert.
- Fred Mitchell at the Chicago Tribune highlights Donovan McNabb‘s plight. I’d say McNabb’s career is probably over.
- Evan Silva at profootballtalk.com says that the 49ers are bringing in Brandon Lloyd for a visit. They already signed Randy Moss and with Lloyd they will be well stocked with big receivers. They could be a hand full. The Bears play at San Francisco next year.
- Teams are being “worn out” by the Peyton Manning chase. From Mike Florio at profootballtalk.com.
- From Pro Football Weekly’s Audibles section:
“What were people saying at the beginning of last season? With no OTAs or much time for installation — the veteran teams that kept it simple and relied on one playbook instead of three would be the ones left standing. There were a lot of other reasons for it, too — don’t get me wrong. But I think there is a lot of truth to it for the last four coaches that were standing.”
- The Sports Pickle has implicated Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow in participating in their bounty program:
“Yet according to sources, Tebow paid Broncos defensive players Von Miller, Brian Dawkins and Elvis Dumervil more than $50,000 each over the course of the season for helping opposing players back to their feet after tackling them.”
Where does it all end?!
- And finally, The Onion scoops everyone with this headline: “Wes Welker Signs 2-Foot Extension With Patriots”.
One Final Thought
Apparently Biggs had the same thought a lot of us did when he heard about the Brandon Marshall trade:
“But it’s more than curious the Dolphins would let go of the 27-year-old Marshall for so little, especially since the offense new coach Joe Philbin is installing relies on wide receivers more than any in the league. Also, the Redskins went all-out for wide receivers in free agency and Marshall’s former coach Mike Shanahan didn’t deal for him.”
Of course, there are the usual concerns that we all knew about, a list of transgressions, arrests and general troubles that is about a “mile high”.
“Marshall has had issues off the field. In school at Central Florida, he was charged with assault on a law enforcement officer. He pleaded a DUI arrest in Colorado down to driving while impaired.
“The Rocky Mountain News reported sheriff’s deputies were called to Marshall’s home 11 times in a 21/2-year span. In 2008, he put his arm through a television set, a story he originally explained by saying he slipped on a McDonald’s wrapper. In March 2009, he was charged with disorderly conduct following a disagreement with his fiancee, now wife, in Atlanta.”
And lets not forget this one:
“Last April, Marshall’s wife, Michi Nogami-Marshall, was arrested after allegedly stabbing Marshall.”
All of this was explained away as Marshall said after the April incident that he was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, a mental illness that leads those who suffer from it to struggle with relationships, mood control and emotions.
So he’s been troubled and he has a history of mental illness which he now has under control right? So what’s with the low price tag? Suddenly, late last night, the reason was revealed:
“Monday night, [Marshall] was involved peripherally in an incident at a New York club in which his wife was hit with a bottle during an altercation neither of them was part of, according to a statement from Marshall’s attorney, Harvey Steinberg. He said Marshall took his wife to a hospital where she was treated for ‘serious injuries’ and Marshall hopes to ‘assist authorities’ regarding the matter.”
Of course, given that he initially claimed that he “slipped on a McDonald’s wrapper” in the 2008 incident above, you knew this wasn’t going to be the end of the story:
“The New York Post, however, reported the episode took place around 4 a.m. Sunday and that Christin Myles filed a police report saying that during the fracas Marshall hit her in the left eye, blackening it.”
For those of you who think all of this is irrelevant and that all that counts is what he does on the field, think again. Given the laundry list of troubles above, I think you can count on at least a four game suspension is any part of that New York Post story turns out to be true. Indeed, Florio also makes this relevant point:
“The question then becomes, if the Dolphins knew, did the Bears? And will the Bears care? There could be some rule or bylaw somewhere allowing the Bears to bail on this one if the Dolphins were aware of pertinent information and failed to share it.”
I think a lot of Bear fans would also like to know if their new general manager hasn’t already blown his first major acquisition by not investigating the situation throughly enough.
Regardless, whether the Bears knew about the incident or not, I don’t think the Bears are going to bail on the trade. Besides the fact that they are unlikely to admit that they didn’t do their due diligence, they need Marshall too badly. And that highlights the real problem.
This is what happens when a franchise is mismanaged the way the Bears have been over the last five or six years. It all comes down to the draft. Without players in the system, you are left to try to make up the talent difference through other means. That means picking through other teams trash in free agency or, as in this case, actually paying for it. That was the case in 2009 when they traded for Jay Cutler because they couldn’t draft a quarterback and its the case now.
What’s worse, because the Bears have decided to compete now rather than playing for the future, they paid for Miami’s trash in draft picks. And that’s really why this trade is disturbing. Just like the situation three years ago with Cutler, the Bears now have fewer options in the draft to solve the real issue. Which means they’ll probably have to dip into trades and free agency even more in the future to make up the difference. Its a spiral of death that any Washington Redskin fan can appreciate.
The Brandon Marshall trade highlights how desperate the Bears long-term situation really is. And it also highlights the short-sighted direction they have decided to take in order to solve the problem. Given that they are trading draft picks to maintain competitiveness and that even the ones they have will take years to accumulate and develop, we won’t probably see things get better for a long time.