Bears

What convinced Emery to make the Marshall trade?

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What convinced Emery to make the Marshall trade?

It wasnt what Brandon Marshall said to Phil Emery that convinced the Bears general manager Marshall was worth investing two draft choices, a large measure of Emerys own professional stock and the image of a charter franchise in the NFL.

It was what Emery heard and saw Marshall say about himself and his battle, now ongoing, with borderline personality disorder. Marshall has been involved in a string of untoward events involving degrees of violence, the most recent just days before the trade that brought him from the Miami Dolphins to the Bears.

I was a ticking time bomb, Marshall said.

Marshall had gone on national television to speak about the condition. There were videos of him on social media. Emery saw something that convinced him that Marshalls was worth the risk.

Probably the one thing that really stood out to me was the courage he displayed to come forward with the problems which he spoke so well Friday about, Emery said.

Marshall, in his first public appearance since both the incident at a New York nightclub Sunday night and the trade Tuesday to the Bears, was sometimes blunt, sometimes emotional, sometimes seeming almost worried as he spoke of the treatment and therapy he has been undergoing in an attempt to break the grip of a problem Marshall himself has only recently come to grips with.

My No. 1 goal this year, before the trade, was to be mentioned for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award, Marshall said. And how ironic to get traded to the Chicago Bears. Going back the past six years and seeing how things have played out in my life and how devastating things have been, the turmoil, on and off the field, really hit home with me.

Now Im in a position where Im healthy, and I want to be one of the faces and one of the pioneers for breaking the stigma on mental illness and borderline personality disorder.

Pointing a thumb, not a finger

Appearances and utterances can be deceiving; there have been seemingly sincere frauds in the Chicago and every other NFL locker room. But Marshall expressly cited only one cause for his problems: himself.

Things and places have never been a problem, Marshall said. Its been me.

With that attitude, Emery and the Bears were sufficiently satisfied that a troubled 27-year-old was going in the right direction. Additionally, Marshall is unequivocal about him remaining a risk another indication that Marshall does not see himself healed and able to stop addressing the problem.

He understands that he still is a risk, for himself, family and the Bears.

Absolutely, Marshall said. From perception, yes. And from the things I've been through, yes. From the reality of it, yes. Absolutely.

I mean He paused. But the thing about it is one thing I've learned about Phil Emery so far is that he is a guy of details. He's definitely done his due diligence. he understands me, the person. He understands me, the player.

He and the Bears certainly hope so.

Bears roster lacks veteran cut candidate

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USA Today

Bears roster lacks veteran cut candidate

The Bears battle for the 53-man roster doesn’t have many contentious positions entering training camp.

Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy brought back largely the same roster from their breakout 2018 season, finding replacements for the few players gone in free agency.

Outside of kicker, the entire starting lineup is pretty much set for Week 1, and the main competitions to stick with the team are at the bottom of the depth chart.

It leaves the roster with no notable veterans that stand out as candidates to be cut. ESPN’s Jeff Dickerson was asked to name one for an article, and he couldn’t come up with any.

He mentioned Taquan Mizzell, who made the move from running back to wide receiver this offseason, but as Dickerson pointed out “Mizzell is hardly a well-known commodity around the league.”

Former third-round pick Jonathan Bullard hasn’t lived up to his draft status, but the Bears have seemed comfortable keeping him around in a backup role.

The Bears roster has very little fat to trim. The only other player who could potentially qualify is cornerback Sherrick McManis, since the team has so many young players at his position, but he’s been working at safety to increase his value, and he’s one of the team’s best special teams contributors.

The trim down from the 90-man roster shouldn’t have too many significant surprises, which is why so much of the attention this offseason continues to go to the kicker position.

Alex Bars is ready to take his shot with Harry Hiestand and the Bears

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USA Today

Alex Bars is ready to take his shot with Harry Hiestand and the Bears

Alex Bars was cleared to practice last week, allowing him his first chance to put on a helmet since tearing his ACL and MCL Sept. 29 while playing for Notre Dame. The undrafted guard was able to participate in veteran minicamp, allowing him to shake off some rust before his real push for a roster spot begins in training camp next month. 

Many speculated Bars would’ve been as high as a mid-round draft pick if not for that devastating knee injury. It didn’t take the 6-foot-6, 312 pound Bars long, though, to decide where he wanted to go after not being picked in April’s draft. Call it the Harry Hiestand effect. 

Bars played under Hiestand’s tutelage at Notre Dame from 2014-2017, and said he always wanted to wind up with the Bears to work with his former coach — just as 2018 top-10 picks Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey hoped to as well. 

“I remember talking about that, because they both wanted to play for him,” Bars said. “They understand where he can take you and how phenomenal a coach he is, so they both wanted that. And I’m just the same way.”

While Nelson transformed the Indianapolis Colts’ playoff-bound offensive line and McGlinchey showed plenty of promise with the San Francisco 49ers, the reunion of Bars and Hiestand carries some intriguing possibilities for the Bears. Bars has always had upside — he was a four-star recruit out of Nashville in 2014 — and getting to work with Hiestand may be the best way to tap into that potential. 

“He knows me very well, I understand his technique very well,” Bars said. “So having that connection, that player-coach connection all four years through college is huge.”

Hiestand called Bars after his injury last fall and offered some words of encouragement, which only furthered Bars' wish to play for his former college coach in the NFL. 

"That meant everything," Bars said. "He cares so much off the field as well as on the field. That’s who he is."  

Bars wasn’t able to participate in OTAs or rookie minicamp, but Hiestand doesn’t see that as putting him in a tough spot to make the Bears' 53-man roster. And there will very much be an opportunity for Bars to make a push during training camp, given 10-year veteran Ted Larsen only has $90,000 in guaranteed money on his one-year contract. 

It may not be the more eye-catching roster battle during training camp, but the Bears hope they can find interior offensive line depth through competition in Bourbonnais. And Bars, now cleared to practice, will get his shot. 

“He’ll have the chance because he’s smart, he understands the technique, he knows what to do,” Hiestand said during OTAs, when Bars hadn’t practiced yet. “He’s learning the offense even though he’s not doing it. But when we put the pads on that’s when you make or don’t make the team.” 

It’s often unfair — yet far too easy — to place high expectations on undrafted free agents. For every Cameron Meredith or Bryce Callahan who gets unearthed, there are dozens of anonymous players who struggle to stick on an NFL practice squad. 

But Bars is among the more important undrafted free agents on the Bears given his connection with Hiestand and the position he plays. While Kyle Long is healthy, he hasn’t played a full season since 2015, underscoring the Bears’ need for depth on the interior of their offensive line in the immediate future. 

And the Bears would save a little over $8 million against their 2020 cap if they were to make the difficult decision to cut Long in a year. If Bars develops into the kind of player plenty in the NFL thought he could be before his knee injury, that would make releasing Long a little easier to swallow at Halas Hall. 

For now, though, Bars is just hoping to make the Bears. Anything else is a long ways away.

“I’m excited to be here, thrilled for this opportunity and it’s all about productivity,” Bars said. “Just need to be productive and prove you belong on this team.”

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