Brandon Marshall, goodbye and good riddance!

SHARE Brandon Marshall, goodbye and good riddance!
SHARE Brandon Marshall, goodbye and good riddance!

Yes, Brandon Marshall was indeed one of the most talented wide receivers the Bears have ever had. Yes, he certainly did destroy opposing defensive backs with a combination of strength and sheer determination. Yes, he and Jay Cutler were quite a combination at times.

But mostly, yes, good riddance.

You won’t see any tears here over Marshall’s departure. He’s a very good but very divisive player who always ends up wearing out his welcome. Always. It will happen with the Jets, who acquired him from the Bears on Friday for a fifth-round pick. Kudos to new general manager Ryan Pace and new coach John Fox for making this move. If you’re going to start over, do it right. Get rid of the people who make it difficult to come to work in the morning.

The Bears knew what they were getting into when they acquired Marshall from Miami in 2012: a player with great numbers, possible Hall of Fame numbers, but a player who causes disruptions and, most importantly, never seems to lift his team to greater heights. And he met all those expectations. This is a man who hasn’t been able to find his way onto a winning team throughout most of his career.

Football is not the most important thing to Marshall. He has said so himself. His work to raise mental-health awareness comes first. A noble pursuit, for sure. But add it to his decision to fly to New York on his day off during the season to tape Showtime’s “Inside the NFL,’’ and you have a football player whose priorities are skewed. It gives the impression that Brandon Marshall is the most important thing to Brandon Marshall.

That’s not how the NFL works, at least ideally. You have to commit to your team and commit completely. When Marshall called a news conference last season to rail against ESPN for rehashing his ugly past, a past involving domestic abuse, it had nothing to do with football. It had to do with Brandon.

No, it wasn’t the greatest thing when Marshall got into a screaming match with kicker Robbie Gould after a bad loss last season, but at least he cared. That teammates had to tiptoe around him all the time, unsure about what person they were going to get from day to day — that was a very bad thing.

The Bears received a 2015 fifth-round draft pick in return for Marshall. Explain that any way you want – that his salary was too hefty, that he’s 30, etc. – but there’s no escaping this simple fact: The wide receiver so many Bears fans are upset about losing was only worth a fifth-round pick.

The Bears are in a rebuild, but judging from the negative public response to the Marshall trade, fans are having a hard time grasping that simple truth. That’s what you signed up for when you (as I did) wanted Phil Emery and Marc Trestman out of town. It was an acknowledgement that the damage these two men did would take awhile to repair.

In a perfect world, the Bears would be able to send Cutler packing, as well. Too many people continue to hold on to the fantasy that a new coaching staff will be able to turn him into an upstanding, productive NFL quarterback. How many fired coaches do you need to see until you grasp that Cutler is an unfixable problem?

Too many people are still clutching to the idea that the Bears’ offense can hold things together until Pace rebuilds the defense. No, tear it down and start over. All of it. Swallow a bad season or two, and let’s find out if the new GM knows what he’s doing.

Marshall was the first step, a step the Bears had to take. Lance Briggs is gone, and Charles Tillman will be soon. Eventually, Cutler will be gone too. Time to rid the locker room of players who have their own agendas. The guess here is that the only thing holding back Pace and Fox from getting rid of Cutler is his two-ton contract, not any thought that he might finally figure out how to play at a high level.

Time for the Bears to move on, even if it might be a step backward in the short term. In the meantime, Marshall might want to ask himself a simple question: With all the talent I have, why can’t I seem to stick with a team?


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