SAN FRANCISCO — Brandon Marshall suspects he knows why he was traded, and he said it had more to do with the Bears’ 5-11 record in 2014 than his own performance.
“We imploded,” the receiver said Wednesday. “And when you implode, people get fired — players, coaches, executives. That’s what happens. It’s part of the business.
“And they’re not going to go for the scout team player — they’re going to go for some of the key figures.”
In March, new Bears GM Ryan Pace and coach John Fox — who replaced those fired executives and coaches — decided to send Marshall and seventh-round pick to the Jets for a fifth-round selection.
“I think they knew there was relationships there that couldn’t continue to go forward,” Marshall said. “It wouldn’t have been best for the locker room. It wouldn’t have been best for the team. So they had to choose between situations.”
Asked specifically about his relationship with quarterback Jay Cutler, Marshall demurred. He would only say, three times in a row, that the Jets’ Ryan Fitzpatrick was his quarterback.
“When you look at how things happened, it’s sad, because that was my dream job,” he said. “I really enjoyed my time there. The city embraced me. It gave me a home. I still feel like it’s home. I still have a place there.”
On paper, the trade qualifies as one of the most lopsided in Bears history — behind only, perhaps, giving the Panthers tight end Greg Olsen for a third-round pick. Marshall was a star last season with the Jets. His 109 catches were fifth-most in the league, his 1,502 receiving yards ranked fourth and his career-high 14 touchdown catches tied for the league lead.
The Bears, of course, considered more than simply his statistics before moving him. Every other team Marshall has played for made a similar locker-room decision — Marshall was traded three times in a five-year span.
Pace said last month he didn’t regret the move one bit, declaring it was “what we felt was best” for the team.
The Jets, meanwhile, went 10-6 and were one Week 17 win away from giving Marshall his first-ever playoff appearance. Marshall said he was over it the next day, when he played with his 1-year-old twins.
“I’m going to take more time just to rejuvenate and relax a little bit,” said Marshall, who is spending Super Bowl week working for the Audience Sports Network, Showtime and CBS. “Just so I can be there for my team come December, January and hopefully February.”
Marshall is more proof this week — along with Olsen, Jared Allen and Charles Tillman — that life after the Bears can be sweet.
He hopes Bears running back Matt Forte, a free agent to be, won’t be put in the same position.
“Chicago needs to sign him back, man,” he said. “The thing that makes Chicago is the history, man. It’s family.
“That’s what’s so disappointing: that I felt like we reacted like everyone else in the league reacted (last year).”
That feeling of family, he said, trickled down from chairman George McCaskey to coaches and veteran players Devin Hester, Brian Urlacher, Tillman — and Forte.
“When you walk into the building you can feel that special atmosphere with the rich history of the great coaches and great players,” he said. “But then you sat in there and you saw those guys and it’s like, ‘Man, this is the core.’ Matt Forte has been a part of that, and I feel that Chicago should step up and keep him there.
“That’s their guy. They drafted him. He’s not only a stud in the community, he’s a stud in the field. He still can do it.”
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