TUESDAY, 3:35pm: In addition to acquiring Marshall, the Jets will also be getting Chicago’s seventh-rounder, tweets Adam Schefter. The reporter confirms that New York will be sending the Bears a fifth-round pick.
FRIDAY, MARCH 6th, 4:47pm: Per Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (Twitter links), the Jets are tweaking Marshall’s contract as part of the deal, meaning he’ll have a chance to earn even more than the $15.8MM previously available to him over the next two seasons.
11:34am: The Jets are expected to give up a fifth-round pick in the swap, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). That makes sense, considering the team’s fourth-rounder and sixth-rounder are currently tied up in the Harvin trade.
10:08am: The Bears and Jets have reached an agreement on a trade that will send wide receiver Brandon Marshall to the Jets, pending a physical, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). News of the move, which can’t be officially completed until the new league year begins, comes a day after we learned that the Bears were exploring their trade options with regard to Marshall. The agreement was first reported by Aaron Leming of BearReport.com (via Twitter).
Marshall, who turns 31 later this month, signed a three-year contract extension with the Bears last May that locks him up through the 2017 season. However, with Marc Trestman, Phil Emery, and the old regime out of the picture in Chicago, new GM Ryan Pace and head coach John Fox didn’t waste much time moving in a different direction.
While it’s not clear yet what sort of compensation the Bears will receive for Marshall, the team had reportedly been seeking a mid-round draft pick, and Leming suggests the pick may end up falling in the “late” rounds. Of course, the club will also clear some cap room in the move — Marshall’s $7.5MM base salary for 2015 was due to become fully guaranteed next Thursday, and that will now be the Jets’ responsibility, rather than Chicago’s. With $5.625MM left in dead money on the Bears’ cap, the team will create nearly $4MM in cap savings.
As for the Jets, the acquisition of Marshall likely removes any of the suspense regarding the club’s decision on Percy Harvin. The team had reportedly been interested in reducing Harvin’s pay and keeping him around, but the former Seahawk didn’t seem open to that idea, and will almost certainly be released this month. Assuming the Jets cut Harvin before March 19, they’ll owe the Seahawks a sixth-round pick as compensation for the wideout, rather than a fourth-round pick.
During the 2014 season, Marshall struggled along with the rest of the Bears, totaling just 721 receiving yards and 61 catches, his worst marks since his rookie season in 2006. However, he’s only a year removed from a 100-catch season and a spot in the Pro Bowl, so if the Jets can find a quarterback to get him the ball, he should help anchor a solid receiving corps in New York, alongside Eric Decker and Jeremy Kerley.
Of course, if the Jets continue to have quarterback issues, it’s fair to wonder if the situation with Marshall could go south. The veteran wideout isn’t the type of player to quietly go about his business if things aren’t going well for him or his team. This will be the third time since 2010 that Marshall has been traded in a league where trades are rare, and his clubhouse presence has certainly played a role in a couple of those moves, if not all three of them.
Chicago, meanwhile, figures to be in the market for a wide receiver in free agency or the draft this offseason to pair with Alshon Jeffery. Jeffery is extension-eligible for the first time this winter as he heads into the final year in his contract, and I expect the Bears to seriously explore a long-term deal for him now that Marshall is out of the picture.
Schefter (Twitter link) reported earlier today that the Colts and Browns had also spoken to the Bears about Marshall.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.