Two years ago, the Chicago Bears traded star wide receiver Brandon Marshall to the New York Jets for a fifth-round pick. The move was met with a lot of criticism at first. Marshall had been one of the best weapons in the league during that time, and the Bears only managed to get a Day 3 pick for him. On paper, that seems incredibly lopsided, right? Looking back on the deal, though, makes Ryan Pace seem like a genius.
Marshall went on to have arguably the best season of his career with the Jets in 2015. He caught 109 passes and had 1,502 receiving yards and a career-high 14 touchdowns. After that first year, the Bears came off as foolish and desperate to get rid of him. However, it went downhill fast for Marshall after that.
Fast forward another year, and Marshall is on another team. The Jets released him after what may have been his worst performance since his rookie season. Former teammate Sheldon Richardson recently threw some shade at him, hinting that the locker room is much better now that he’s gone. All of a sudden, that trade doesn't seem too bad now, does it?
Marshall is what he is at this point. He’ll be a dangerous weapon in your offense for a few years until he gets traded or released due to his being a locker room nightmare. He is a six-time Pro Bowler, but has yet to stay with any team for more than four years. Even if Chicago hadn't gotten rid of him, it's safe to say that he would've been gone eventually. With that said, it was best that the Bears traded him.
Ryan Pace has been against signing or drafting players that can be best described as off-the-field cancers. Marshall and Martellus Bennett, two of the team’s best offensive weapons on the roster he inherited, were traded. Pace did take a risk on Ray McDonald in his first year, but he released the former 49er after he got arrested. Since then, he’s stayed clear of players with character issues.
It has helped make a big impact in the locker room. Before Pace arrived, the Bears’ locker room was arguably the most dysfunctional in the entire league. Players were calling each other out, coaches were crying, there was no order and inner workings were leaked to the media. Fast forward three years, and none of those things are issues anymore.
Plus, it helps that the Bears got a solid player in return in the deal, as well. Adrian Amos, the player whom they picked with the pick they gained, will likely be entering 2017 as a starting safety. Even if he doesn't end up starting come Week 1, he’ll serve as a solid depth piece. While he's not as good at what he does as Marshall is, Amos provides much more stability. He's clean off the field and solid on it.
Sure, Marshall is still a very good player, and he would've played a huge role on today’s depleted offense, but at what cost? Without him, the Bears are a much more stable franchise, and their locker room is much more efficient. Add in the fact that they added a solid contributor in the deal, and it becomes more apparent that Chicago won the Brandon Marshall trade.