Be sure to check out the full 2015 Roster Turnover Story Stream as I work my way through every position group for the Chicago Bears.
Brandon Marshall - signed through 2017 - Last season things spiraled out of control with the Bears and Marshall was front and center of a lot of their issues. But with stronger leadership coming from the coaches, I see all the players falling in line, including Marshall.
Then again, the new regime may feel his productivity isn't worth any potential headache he could bring to the team.
Marshall wants to stay in Chicago, but after meeting with the coaches earlier today, he wasn't given any guarantees. He understands the NFL is a business and the Bears could save a few million in cap space if they cut Marshall before March 11.
Head coach John Fox will no doubt ask Marshall to settle down on the silliness of social media and he may not want him traveling to New York to film Inside The NFL. Not necessarily because Fox feels Marshall is distracted by the travel on his off day, but because the "perception" is that he's not focused on his team if he's busy on his off day.
I personally don't think his Showtime gig is a big deal. It's about a 2 hour flight between Chicago and New York, we're not talking about him flying a commercial flight to Hollywood. We're not talking about him hitting party after party until 3 am, we're talking about him working as an NFL analyst 1 day a week.
On his off day.
He could be watching game film on his iPad during his commute, he could be reading the weekly scouting reports on his commute, he could be conducting business during his commute.
From the Chicago Tribune.
The unique set-up had Marshall rising at dawn on most Tuesdays to catch a private plane to New York. There, he would tape that week's show before returning on a private plane, usually arriving in Chicago in time for dinner.
So Marshall spent about 12 hours of his off day doing something he has a passion for. How is that any different than a couple teammates playing Madden NFL 15 or a player spending the day at a children's hospital?
If Marshall was blowing off practice on a short week or skipping rehab to film Inside The NFL in New York, then I could understand the outrage. But when applicable during the 2014 season, Marshall appeared on the show via satellite.
If the Bears didn't have such a disappointing season, Marshall's off day adventures wouldn't have been a big deal. But coupled with the Bears being a 5-11 team, and with his twitter rants, and the locker room strife, and the lengthy domestic violence press conference, it all added up to a major headache which is why there's some legitimate question on Marshall remaining in Chicago.
But back to football.
Marshall was one of only 5 Chicago Bears that Pro Football Focus graded out in the green (positive). He was a +4.3 overall with his high mark of +5.1 as a run blocker.
Alshon Jeffery - signed through 2015 - The perception -- there's that word again -- is that Jeffery had a down season in 2014, but his numbers weren't that far off from his breakout 2013 campaign. He only had 4 fewer receptions and 288 fewer yards, but his touchdowns went up from 7 in 2013 to 10 in 2014.
I think a big reason it seemed he dropped off from one year to the next was the lack of explosive and eye popping plays. In 2013 PFF had him down for 14 catches for 570 yards on pass plays over 20 yards down field. Last year the big plays dropped to 11 receptions for 377 yards. Plus some of his big, circus-catch, down field plays in 2013 were replayed on highlight shows all season long, and I can't recall any spectacular plays in 2014.
Injuries were a factor in 2014, so hopefully Jeffery can have another great off season and get his body 100%.
If the Bears do decide to move on from Marshall, it'll be because they feel Jeffery is ready to be the Alpha among the wide outs.
Marquess Wilson - signed through 2016 - I liked Wilson as a prospect when he was drafted. I liked Wilson as a prospect after the hard work he put in last off season. I still liked his upside when he rehabbed from his shoulder injury. But the reality is that his sophomore year in Chicago was underwhelming. Seven games played, 6 starts, with 17 receptions for 140 yards.
Wilson just wasn't making plays when he was in the game. According to PFF, when Chicago quarterbacks were throwing to Jeffery, they had a 105.5 passer rating. When throwing to Marshall, they had a 92.1 passer rating. When throwing towards Wilson, Jay Cutler and Jimmy Clausen had a passer rating of 49.0.
At this point, I'm not sure you can count on Wilson being a lock for the roster.
Josh Bellamy - signed through 2015 - Bellamy's bounced around four teams in his 3 year career, but he's yet to make a catch in an NFL game. He's not exceptionally fast, he's not that big (6', 206), and he'll be 26 in May. The Bears may opt for a younger prospect at this point.
Josh Morgan - free agent - With a new offense in place, I doubt the Bears bring Morgan back after having the least productive season of his 7 year career.
Marc Mariani - signed through 2015 - Mariani could be given a shot to win the returner jobs based on his film from last year. He showed good quickness and toughness after not playing in more than 2 years. For a player that was one of the most prolific pass catchers in college football history, he only has 5 receptions as a pro.
Maybe Mariani will be a late bloomer that can impress the new coaching staff.
Rashad Lawrence - signed through 2016 - The success that undrafted free agent wide out Chris Matthews had in the Super Bowl, reminded all the young hopefuls in the NFL that anything can happen. But with that being said, it's still a long road to an active roster for undrafted players. Rashad Lawrence (6'1", 196) was on Chicago's practice squad for part of last season and he'll try his best to make an impression in training camp.
John Chiles - signed a reserve/futures contract - Chiles (6'2", 201) spent the last two years in the Canadian Football League, after originally being signed as an undrafted free agent in 2011 by the Saints. He ran a 4.42 forty back at his Texas pro day, with a 39.5 vertical jump.
B.J. Cunningham - free agent - Cunningham is a guy that was listed on the team's website as a 2014 practice squader, but he didn't receive a reserve/futures deal this off season.
2015 OUTLOOK - Until the Bears make a decision on Brandon Marshall, it'll be difficult to proceed with adding to the position group. With or without Marshall back, I think they need to add a guy that can fly. The one thing Chicago's receivers lack is a guy that can take the top off a defense.
If Marshall sticks around, they'll need a speedster that can slide into the 3rd or 4th wide receivers role. If they cut Marshall, they'll also need a legit #2, because after he and Jeffery, there are a lot of unknowns on the roster.
If Marshall goes, I think the Bears would be more willing to add a veteran through free agency. Green Bay's Randall Cobb or Baltimore's Torrey Smith would be welcome additions to Adam Gase's offense, but both would come with a price tag around what Marshall is due if not more.
Spending a mid round draft pick on a receiver is an option if they dump Marshall, especially if someone high on Ryan Pace's board is falling. Early word on this draft class is that the receiving talent is fairly deep.
Whether the Bears spend a pick on the position or not, there'll be a few undrafted rookies in camp.
What are your thoughts on Chicago wide out's in 2015?