Sorting out a suddenly squirrely Bears WR situation

Sorting out a suddenly squirrely Bears WR situation
August 29, 2013, 12:15 pm
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After-thoughts on a couple of Bears wide receiver stories of the past 24 hours…
That Brandon Marshall is still having some hip concerns and getting exams should not be completely surprising, given that he was being rested throughout many of the minicamp and OTA sessions. The four-day break coach Marc Trestman gave him was basically adding Wednesday and Thursday to the two days the team already was going to have off.
Marshall’s agent Kenard McGuire confirmed exactly what Marc Trestman said, that the checkup was scheduled some time ago, just as the three-on-one-off practice schedule was through training camp.
What seemed to elevate this into a small firestorm was the abruptness of the announcement, and that anytime you use “Brandon Marshall” and “personal day” in the same sound byte, eyebrows and antennae are going up.
Here’s the real bottom line: Marshall is a warrior. He will play against the Cincinnati Bengals. And the Bears do not need him to be a 118-catch receiver; in fact, they’d probably rather he weren’t, given what they’ve invested in Martellus Bennett, Alshon Jeffery and their offensive line.

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They need him to be very good, and the second Marshall surprise will be if he isn’t. He’s had two previous procedures and caught 86 and 81 passes the seasons after those, plus 118 last year with a hip that was headed for another bit of work.
As one veteran NFL observer told CSNChicago, “I really don’t think this is all that big a deal.”

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It won’t be a big deal until Marshall has another off day or has some frustration bubble up. Best guess is that Marshall will have veterans days off through the season. That’s been a pattern with the Bears in the past and is likely to continue.
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Nothing can ever be completely ruled out, but the Bears trading Earl Bennett might come close. Adam Schefter over at ESPN tweeted that “the Bears have had some discussions about trading Earl Bennett.”

[Report: Bears are having 'discussions' about Bennett]
These are complicated little situations, and the real question in anything like this is who made the first phone call. The Bears didn’t, according to word around the league, and one thought is that it is a team needing receivers trying to create some movement. Besides, Bennett is damaged goods right now because of the concussion of four weeks ago, which doesn’t exactly enhance trade value.
Right now, the Bears are one of those teams in need of front-line receivers, and they regard Bennett as a designer slot/possession receiver. The contract extension he signed in December 2011 puts him in the $2 million price bracket and he hasn’t played to that deal.
But the overall salary allocation to the position is moderated by the fact that Alshon Jeffery is in Year 2 of a rookie contract. Also, whoever else is on the depth chart after this weekend’s cuts is likely to be a minimum-salary guy, unless a quality veteran comes free in final cuts.
The bigger question with Bennett is simply production. He caught 29 passes last season and 24 the year before, which is not what $2 million wideouts do. He has never caught more than 54 passes in a season and if he is going to be here beyond this season, that needs to change.