What is with the media-fueled speculation that the Bears should trade wide receiver Brandon Marshall?
Let me go through the pros and cons of such a move and let's observe which side wins out.
The pros of a Brandon Marshall trade
- The team eliminates a player who speaks out too much. Apparently, Marshall was overheard yelling at kicker Robbie Gould. He also challenged a fan and Lions center Dominic Raiola to separate fights via Twitter. Marshall also said "I'd have buyer's remorse too" regarding Jay Cutler's mega-contract. And he was the only one who blasted the Bears play as "unacceptable" 17 times after a Bears home loss to the mediocre Miami Dolphins.
- The team would save nearly $4 million in cap space.
- Some have argued that he is aging (turning 31 years old at the end of the month).
- Some have argued that he is injured.
The cons of a Brandon Marshall trade
- Though Marshall will be 31, he is still performing at a high level. His average per catch is 11.8, which a shade under his career average of 12.6. Marshall's 8 TDs make him tied for 12th in the NFL last year among wide receivers with at least 50 receptions—very respectable given his injuries.
- Gifted wide receivers can still produce well into their late 30s. Jerry Rice produced seven more 1,000 yard seasons after age 31. Marvin Harrison produced four more 1,000 yard seasons starting at age 31. So did Terrell Owens. Randy Moss had three more 1,000 yard seasons. Michael Irvin, two more. Jimmy Smith, five more. Reggie Wayne, two more. Isaac Bruce, two more. Keyshawn Johnson had none but flirted with 1,000 yards three times. The point is that elite wide receivers can produce at least two more highly productive years starting at age 31.
- The Bears aren't going to get market value for a Brandon Marshall trade. The Bears are looking at getting a fourth-round pick in a Brandon Marshall trade. The odds are strongly against any fourth-round player providing either the short-term or long-term value that Marshall provides in the short term.
- The injury argument is ridiculous. Marshall is fully recovered now and he does not have a history of being significantly injury-prone, having missed only eight games in his previous nine seasons (an average of less than one game per year).
- The amount the Bears save in cap space is small. The Chicago Tribune admitted that a Marshall move would not be based on cap considerations. If the Bears paid Marshall, the team pay only a base salary of $7.5 million. If the Bears shed Marshall, the cap savings is only $3.95 million. So the Bears would rather take the savings and give it to Brian Hartline? He of 474 yards and two touchdowns last year? Yeah, Hartline will strike fear in opposing secondaries. No disrespect to Hartline but he's no Brandon Marshall.
- Maybe Marshall is too much of an open book, but personally, I like his competitiveness and desire for the team to win. This is in stark contrast to Jay Cutler, who couldn't seem to care less when he throws a game-ending pick or when his team loses. I happen to like that Marshall calls out people who aren't playing hard or who are indifferent to losing. Management can always talk to him privately about engaging people in fights via Twitter but that's hardly cause for a trade.
The bottom line
I'm highly skeptical of the combined wisdom of the Ryan Pace/John Fox regime for the mere fact that they are shopping Marshall. The cons of a Marshall trade far outweigh the pros. Get rid of Cutler if you want, but Marshall should stay.