In the end, it was best to move on. It was best to say goodbye to arguably the best receiver in Bears history and the headline-grabbing baggage that accompanies him.
It’s time to start anew, and first-year general manager Ryan Pace made sure the Bears stayed that course.
On Friday, the Bears agreed to trade Brandon Marshall to the New York Jets for a reported fifth-round pick in the draft in May. The trade is pending a physical and can’t become official until Tuesday, when the new league year begins at 3 p.m.
Pace and coach John Fox promised to be methodical when considering the future of Marshall, who turns 31 this month and was plagued by injuries in 2014.
This will be the third time Marshall has been traded in his career, and the fifth-round pick the Bears will receive is a strong sign of how determined and willing they were to move on. Marshall’s issues with coaches and teammates and his penchant for creating ‘‘noise,’’ as the Bears would call it, wore out his welcome at Halas Hall.
Sources said Marshall’s relationship with quarterback Jay Cutler took a sour turn last season. And while Cutler’s status is uncertain, there were concerns about how Marshall would mesh with other quarterbacks and new coaches.
There was more than his odd 45-minute news conference, his feuds on Twitter or his yelling at teammates after a loss to the Miami Dolphins in Week 7, too. Sources said Marshall’s run-in with defensive assistant Chris Harris at practice last season and the lack of response from coach Marc Trestman and others frustrated his teammates.
Marshall’s production –= 279 catches, 3,524 yards and 31 touchdowns in 45 games — is unrivaled in team history. But Pace has a strong free-agent crop of receivers — he gains $3.95 million in salary-cap space through the trade — and a loaded draft class he can use to look to replace that productivity.
As for Marshall, he said last month he wanted to remain Chicago, but there are benefits to leaving, too. As he said Thursday on Twitter after it was reported that the Bears were looking at trades: ‘‘When you check your blood type — make sure it is not BE NEGATIVE.’’
Marshall will get a chance to take his foundation for mental-health awareness to unprecedented levels in New York and will join a coach (Todd Bowles) with whom he connected during their time together with the Dolphins. If Marshall is allowed to continue as a panelist for Showtime’s “Inside the NFL,” he can do so in the same city.
The Bears declined to comment about the trade, but social media was full of farewells. Marshall and his wife, Michi, posted the same picture on Instagram, saying, ‘‘Thank You, Chicago!’’
Guard Kyle Long expressed his gratitude on Twitter. and tight end Martellus Bennett issued an emotional farewell on Instagram.
‘‘You’ve always been more than a teammate you’re a brother, a friend, and a mentor,’’ Bennett wrote. “[I’ll] continue to carry the torch. I just wanted to say something. I love you bro. And I’ll miss suiting up with you.’’