The first day of the NFL calendar brought with it the expected flurry of activity. Visions of giant zeroes dances through our heads and the number of high-“two-comma” players expanded quickly. Twitter feeds couldn’t reload fast enough to keep up with the unending string of rumors, conjecture and speculation. If only for a little while, we had other stories to consider outside of Peyton Manning and his tour. Sure, it was the fun topic in Denver, Tennessee, Jacksonville and such, but our attention shifted to the myriad front line options on the market.
One of the early moves was a bold one out of Chicago. New GM Phil Emery delivered Chicago fans the wide receiver that they’d been awaiting for years in the person of Brandon Marshall. Remember, the Bears have not seen a 1,000-yard receiver since 2002, when Marty Booker accomplished the feat.
Emery dealt two third-round picks (one came as a result of the deal that had sent Greg Olsen to the Panthers) for Marshall. The immediate reaction was “What a steal!” and the celebratory notes began to flow on Twitter and Facebook pages. Jay Cutler was to be reunited with his former Denver teammate to give the Bears a giant leap in the receiving corps. Marshall is a legitimate 100-reception threat. Johnny Knox led Chicago wide receivers with 37 receptions in 2011.
Of course, the collective exuberance about the move turned to consternation and hand-wringing when it was announced that Marshall had been accused of an assault outside a club on Sunday morning. Immediately, the specter of Roger Goodell’s justice system loomed over the proceedings. For his part, Marshall has proclaimed his innocence and told reporters and fans to allow things to take their proper course. The Bears claimed to have had knowledge of the issue and pulled the trigger on the deal in spite of it.
I echo the “steal” sentiment on Marshall, even if he is forced to sit out games as a result of this latest incident. You don’t need to dig through the numbers. Muhsin Muhammad once called Chicago “the place where wide receivers go to die.” The Bears didn’t need to give up day one picks for a playmaker, a game-changer.
Chicago still needs to add at least two more receivers to the mix before its done, be it through the remaining free agent options or April’s Draft. Phil Emery showed fans that the team isn’t conceding anything to the Lions and Packers.
Start your “Be aggressive. Be … Be …” chant.