Trust me, as a former player it's hard writing an article defending new Bears'No. 1wide receiver Brandon Marshall. Everybody trusts the talent, but do you trust the individual? Do you want Marshalls abbreviated or elongated wrap sheet?Ill surmise: He was arrestedsix times, admitted mental disorder (borderline personality disorder) and was subsequently accused of battery coinciding atrade to the Bears via the Miami Dolphins.Whats not to love? Marshall seems like a great guy. Can the Bears Trust Him?Its always dicey making deals with the devil but Im sure one Bear stuck his neck out to vouch for Marshall: It would be their starting quarterback Jay Cutler.Their history is well documented with the Broncos. Marshall averaged 92 receptionsper year and over 1,000 yardsper season when they played together. Its not happenstance those records occurred just because theyre both talented, but rather their relationship is much deeper.BondsWhen you get drafted together like Cutler (first round) and Marshall (fourth round) were in 2006 by the Broncos, bonds are created. They are created every year between all draft picks of every team. Draft picks decide amongst themselves who has the heart, passion, desire and skill required to achieve the task at hand. Earlier draft picks with higher investment have the edge, but all draft picks are trying to accomplish the same goal and dream, which is to make the team and play in the NFL. Speed DatingCutler and Marshall observed early on they were special. They excelled when other draft picks faltered. Talent was the common thread but they both recognized and respected their discussions about the desire to be great, working hard at their craft in order to be special in the NFL. Its just what winners do. Its called Backing it up."Is there a trusted Doctors diagnosis for this disease in modern medicine and is the desire to be great Illegal? Cutler has not been arrested like Marshall but he has been handcuffed in a parallel universe known as the Bears' pass game since his arrival. Prescribed medication maybe the key, but I think two guys who trust each other will live up to their bond as rookies.No meds needed. The Bears will be just fine when it comes to trusting Marshall. Just look at the facts. Marshall has to play nice due to the legalbattles. Hehas no wiggle room at all in 2012, considering how he arrived to the Bears.Sweat EquityCutler and Marshall have a ton of sweat equity together with the Broncos. Trust me, trust is not an issue.
Not all that long ago, back in the seemingly promising Dave Wannstedt days, something of an annual narrative began around the Bears. All too frequently since then it has been the refrain of more offseasons than not, including last year’s. And if there is a cause for very, very sobering realism in the wake of the heady wave of free-agency signings in the first days of the new league year, it lies in what has so often transpired to put the lie to that optimism.
The mantra then, and now, has been various iterations of, “If these three (or four, or six, or 12) things work out, the Bears are gonna be good this year.” Because the reality is that all those what-ifs seldom, if ever, all come to pass, whether because of injury, mis-evaluated abilities or whatever.
Look no further than this time last offseason, just considering the offense:
If Kevin White can come back from (another) injury, if Markus Wheaton flashes his Pittsburgh speed, if Dion Sims takes that next step from a promising Miami stint, if Kyle Long is back from his lower-body issues, if Cameron Meredith comes close to those 66 catches again, if Mike Glennon has the upside that led the GM to guarantee him $18.5 million, and hey, Victor Cruz, too, if… and so on.
And exactly zero of those “if’s” came to pass, with the result that John Fox and Dowell Loggains became idiots.
The point is not to a picker of nit or sayer of nay. But the fact is that a lot of the offseason moves and player development ALL need to come down in the plus-column for the Bears to be even as good as they were back in, say, 2015, when the offense had Martellus Bennett at tight end, Alshon Jeffery at wide receiver, Eddie Royal coming in at slot receiver (with 37 catches in an injury-shortened season), Kyle Long at his Pro-Bowl best, and Jay Cutler about to have the best full season of his career. And a new (proven) head coach and defensive coordinator, and an offensive coordinator with head-coaching talent.
All those things “worked” for a team that would wobble to a 6-10 year.
Now consider 2018:
The current top two wide receivers are both – both – coming off season-ending ACL injuries;
The incoming slot receiver has never had a season as reception-productive as the one (Kendall Wright) he is replacing (59) or as many as Royal had in just nine 2015 games (37);
The new tight end has never been a starter and has fewer career catches (63) than Bennett averaged (69) in three supremely disappointing Bears seasons;
The best offensive lineman (Long) is coming off missing essentially half of each of the past two seasons with injuries, and the co-best (Sitton) is gone from an offensive line that was middle of the pack last year and has high hopes for two linemen (Hroniss Grasu, Eric Kush) who’ve been largely backups, and a third (Jordan Morgan) who missed his rookie season with an injury;
And the quarterback (Trubisky) upon whom the franchise rests, who needs to overcome any so-called sophomore jinx and improve from a rookie level (77.8 passer rating) that was barely better than Cutler’s worst NFL season (76.8).
All of which sounds negative, but it really isn’t, just a perspective. Offseasons are about hope, but realism isn’t all bad, either.
When the Bears signed Trey Burton to a four-year contract worth a reported $32 million (with $18 million of it guaranteed), the natural thought was this: So long, Dion Sims. But the Bears are all but certainly going to hang on to the 27-year-old tight end after his $4 million roster bonus became fully guaranteed on Friday, barring a trade.
“We like Dion Sims, a well-rounded tight end,” general manager Ryan Pace said on Thursday. “We’re excited we got him.”
Cynically — or, perhaps, fairly — Pace’s comments could’ve been interpreted as part of a play to trade Sims, who signed a three-year contract in 2017. The Bears saw Sims as a strong run blocker with pass-catching upside, but still gave themselves an out after one year that would’ve netted $5.666 million in cap savings.
Sims didn’t show any of that receiving upside last year, though, catching 15 of 29 targets (51 percent) for 180 yards with one touchdown. Crucially, the Bears have the cap space to keep Sims, even with the flurry of signings they’ve announced this week -- and Kyle Fuller's reported four-year, $56 million extension -- and contract extensions looming for Eddie Goldman and possibly Adrian Amos, too.
So hanging on to Sims means the Bears value his contributions as a run blocker and are willing to shoulder a $6.3 million cap hit for him to primarily be used in that role. The Bears expect Shaheen to be their primary in-line tight end, with Burton and Daniel Brown, who signed a one-year contract Friday, the more pass-catching-oriented “move” guys in Matt Nagy’s offense. But Sims will still have a role as the Bears look to maximize their production from the tight end position.
“I think we can use all our tight ends,” Pace said. “I think the Super Bowl champions are a recent example of that, of using a lot of tight ends. They’re all valuable weapons. They’re all a little different. I think they all complement each other. It fits together nicely.”