Think about what Brandon Marshall's done in his two years with the Bears.
He's second in the NFL over that time in receptions and 100-yard games. He's fourth in receiving yards, fifth in touchdown receptions. And he's already well on his way to owning every receiving record in Bears franchise history.
That's work he's continued from the first two stops in his career, as he's the only NFL player with at least 80 receptions and 1,000 yards each of the past seven years. He's tied with Andre Johnson and Wes Welker for most 100-catch seasons in active league history, with five.
He could've done the diva thing heading into his contract year. He's earned the chance at elite money, much more than the $9.3 million he'll get in 2014 to finish off his previous four-year deal worth $44 million. He settled for what amounts to an average of a $700,000 raise.
Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Mike Wallace, Dwayne Bowe, Vincent Jackson and Percy Harvin will have a higher annual average salary even after this extension puts Marshall at $10 million per year. While the $23 million puts him in the Top 5 at his position in guaranteed money (which, in most eyes, matters more), his contract value now over the four years is just 14th right now among wide receivers.
Marshall's numbers would lead a bigger ego to hold out for more. He's had his ego/diva moments and troubles earlier in his career. Yes, he wants the ball. But Marshall's gotten to the point where he sees the big picture. If you haven't already seen, he's a team player, hosting numerous fellow Bears through voluntary off-season workouts in Florida. Monday's signing was another piece of evidence he is all about the team.
He's fulfilled his potential in the best "place" in his career, geographically, but more important, mentally and emotionally. There was baggage upon his arrival in Chicago, a risk/reward trade for Phil Emery. But Marshall's discovered the root of his personal issues and continues encouraging those who experience the same during Mental Health Month. He's back with his favorite quarterback. He has a coach and general manager that believe in him, using him in a system that highlights him with other weapons that forces some of the focus away from him. And he probably realizes he's never had it this good, even if he's not atop the pay scale he could justifiably makes a case for.
Now, about making the playoffs for the first time....