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Bears looking to move on from Brandon Marshall

Brandon Marshall is the best receiver the Bears have ever had — and still have for the moment. Just how long the Bears keep him will soon be determined.

Multiple sources confirmed that the Bears — with new general manager Ryan Pace and coach John Fox in charge — are entertaining trades for Marshall.

All conversations are said to be ongoing. But sources also indicated that those close to Marshall are bracing for changes, either way.

“When a front office puts a high salaried veteran out there for trade, it’s over,” said ESPN analyst Andrew Brandt, a former vice president of the Green Bay Packers who handled the salary cap and contract negotiations.

“They’re hoping they can get something for him. Otherwise, they’re going to release him, which every other GM thinks they’re going to do anyway once they put him out there for a trade.”

Trades can’t be finalized until Tuesday, when the new league year begins. But there also is a deadline spurring the Bears if they believe moving Marshall is best. By Thursday, Marshall’s base salary of $7.5 million for 2015 becomes fully guaranteed.

Marshall has said numerous times that he wants to continue to live in Chicago, where he lives downtown and is raising infant twins with his wife.

That said, sources close to Marshall said he believes he could find a good situation — both in terms of his contract and a quality team — were he released by the Bears.

The Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Titans, St. Louis Rams and Jacksonville Jaguars are just some of the teams short at receiver.

“I don’t think anybody wouldn’t be uncomfortable sitting in the gray, but this is the National Football League,” Marshall said at an event for his foundation on Feb. 11. “This is our business. It’s not a unique situation. It happens every single year.”

A week after those comments, Marshall’s situation became even murkier when Pace and Fox made waves at the NFL Scouting Combine with their concerted effort to be very non-committal when speaking about him and quarterback Jay Cutler. But Pace and Fox also seemed intent on sending a specific message at Marshall.

Weeks earlier, Marshall had made himself a story when he asked Ravens coach John Harbaugh if he’d have a problem with him participating on the panel of “Inside the NFL” if he were on his team, while literally conducting an interview for the popular Showtime show during Super Bowl week.

“I will say that regardless of who it is, I think their focus and energy needs to remain on what’s going to help us win a championship,” Fox said when asked about Marshall’s “Inside the NFL” participation.

Pace nearly said the same when asked directly about Marshall’s post-game rants, feuds on Twitter and instances perceived as distractions by those inside Halas Hall.

“I know this, football needs to be the No. 1 priority,” Pace said. “We’re going to win a lot of games if we keep football our No. 1 priority.”

Neither Fox nor Pace said any such thing about Cutler, who would prefer to stay out of the spotlight at all costs. With Marshall, history tends to repeat itself.

There is already a decent free-agent market of receivers, which features Randall Cobb (Green Bay Packers), Torrey Smith (Ravens) and quite possibly Jeremy Maclin (Philadelphia Eagles). It could really turn into a buyer’s market if others, such as the Miami Dolphins’ Mike Wallace, are released.

There’s also a deep draft class of receivers that was heavily praised by general managers and coaches at the combine.

But those also can be arguments for parting with Marshall, too.

Email: ajahns@suntimes.com
Twitter: @adamjahns