Patriots' Kraft: NFL labor deal 'is possible'

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Patriots' Kraft: NFL labor deal 'is possible'

Tuesday, March 8, 2011
2:26 p.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

It isnt necessarily hard news but a report by colleague Tom Curran with CSNNE.com quotes New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft as saying that an agreement between the league and its players is possible.

What makes that a bit more noteworthy that other statements to (or through) the media is that Kraft has not been viewed as a clarion voice of conciliation. So possible coming from Kraft in fact does get deliciously close to news at this point...

The next few days NFLNFLPA negotiations will have their own drama and, hopefully, results. But the days and hours leading up to the deadline extension late last week had some thoroughly intriguing intrigue of their own, including the fact that the whole shaky structure of things was within minutes of imploding.

Good friend Jim Trotter, one of the countrys top NFL writers for Sports Illustrated, put together a riveting tick-tock of events that went down for SI, and Peter King worked out with Jim and the editors to have the piece run as part of Peters always-must-read Monday Morning Quarterback. Jim is as good as it gets and what makes the piece, folded into MMQB, particularly good is that he was able to keep it from being a polemic for one side or the other of lapse into anything other that solid reporting. Check it out.

And Peter makes a quick reference to Plaxico Burress, the former New York Giants wide receiver who is being released from prison in June, earlier than anticipated because of good behavior. I do know the Bears are doing their due diligence on Burress, whose TD catch won a Super Bowl, and who, as Peter throws in, may be approaching 34 but hes a year and a half younger than Hines Ward.

Peter would give Burress a training-camp shot any day of the week and I have been advocating that as well. Hes not the same guy who went into jail and were a nation of second chances. This guy deserves one.

Footsteps?

Talk is always cheap but sometimes its worth noting. Like when Detroit Lions defensive tackle ...sees no reason why the Lions cant go 16-0.

Huh?

The first rookie to make first-team All-Pro since 1951, Suh told the NFL Network that there is no question that the sky is the limit. As ProFootballTalk.coms Michael David Smith says, you have to admire his confidence, if not necessarily his sense of perspective.

But heres a thought for Bears fans: Suhs team won its last four games. That left them at 6-10 and with the distinction of improving from 2009 to 2010 by the same number of wins as your division-champion Bears. Detroit 2009 was 2-14. The Bears were 7-9 in 2009, then 11-5 last season. The Lions defeated the Green Bay Packers the second time they faced them; the Bears didnt beat Green Bay the second or third times they met the eventual Super Bowl winners.

Split with the Packers, split with the Vikings, lost twice by 5 and 4 points to the Bears. Took the Jets to overtime. Beat the 10-6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers in OT in Tampa.

Its not 16-0. But its something to think about.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Did Brandon Marshall disrespect Jay Cutler with Hall of Fame shade?

Did Brandon Marshall disrespect Jay Cutler with Hall of Fame shade?

Brandon Marshall is no stranger to keeping it real.

The outspoken All-Pro receiver never minces his words and that continued over the weekend when he showed off his signed jersey collection.

Marshall took to Instagram and showed off "Santa" hanging all of the jerseys he's swapped with other NFL players:

Santa doing work.. . #jerseychallenge

A post shared by Brandon Marshall (@bmarshall) on

The list includes a host of current and future Hall of Fame players: Champ Bailey, Cris Carter, John Lynch, Darrelle Revis, Lance Briggs, Adam Vinatieri, Adrian Peterson, Larry Fitzgerald, Joe Thomas.

When almost all the framed jerseys were hung, Marshall took his followers through:

@nfl #jerseychallenge

A post shared by Brandon Marshall (@bmarshall) on

Marshall compliments each player before, calling them "Hall of Famers" before getting to Jay Cutler at the end and going "Hall of..." multiple times.

Was that Marshall throwing shade at his former quarterback in both Denver and Chicago? If it was an innocent mistake or whatever, there's no way Marshall would've posted the Instagram video, right?

Marshall and Cutler were good friends from the beginning of their careers with the Broncos. So much so that the Bears traded a pair of third round draft picks in March 2012 to allow the two to continue their bromance by the lake:

But Marshall and Cutler have had a contentious relationship since.

Last summer, Marshall responded to a Tweet saying "of course" he misses Cutler. Last August, Marshall hopped on ESPN's First Take and said he thought Cutler could win the MVP Award in the 2016 NFL season.

At the same time, Marshall talked about his relationship with Cutler and said he was the only person on the Bears with the "huevos" to hold the enigmatic quarterback accountable. Marshall also said he was "sad" he didn't talk to Cutler much in the year leading up to August 2016.

Bears’ Markus Wheaton says wide receiver group is 'definitely underrated'

Bears’ Markus Wheaton says wide receiver group is 'definitely underrated'

No doubt, there are doubts about the makeup of this 2017 Bears wide receiver corps. But as the departed Alshon Jeffery created doubts, health-wise, the past two years about whether he could stay on the field to prove himself worthy of a big payday (which he didn’t even get from the Eagles), Ryan Pace brought in a handful of replacements who’ve flashed in this league before. But recent history’s shown each of them has something to prove as well.

From Rueben Randle to fellow former Giant Victor Cruz. From former first rounders Kendall Wright to Kevin White, taking a third swing at making it though an entire NFL season.

Then there’s Markus Wheaton, the only free agent signee at the position this season to receive a two-year deal ($11 million total, with $6 million guaranteed). Like the rest of the group, though, he’s at a career crossroads. Following seasons with 53 and 44 catches in Pittsburgh in 2014 and 2015 (with a 17-yard average in the latter), the quick-twitch former Steeler was limited to three games a year ago before eventually undergoing surgery for a torn labrum in January.

“Everyone’s new, so we don’t know what it’s gonna be,” he said of the group at the team’s recent minicamp in Lake Forest. “In Pittsburgh you kind of have a clue `cause they’ve done it for so long. Everybody’s new, everybody’s trying to find their niche, so we’ll see how it goes. Anything’s possible. We’ve got a lot of guys who are looking for opportunity. A lot of guys that are hungry and have something to prove. Anything’s possible. Anyone can come out on top. The ultimate goal is to win games and I’m sure the coaches will put us in position to do that.”

The former third-round pick out of Oregon State (where he’s the Beavers’ all-time career leader in receptions, one ahead of Brandin Cooks) played all three receiver positions in Pittsburgh at various times, and while he seems most natural in the slot, is working to make himself as versatile as possible here. But that comes with some risk as a quarterback room that’s also gone through its share of turnover tries to get on the same page with all the targets. But Wheaton is more than confident the results will come from within this group.

“I think we definitely are underrated," Wheaton said. "We’ve come in and worked to get to where we wanna be. We will get there, and it’ll show up on the field.”

The incumbents in the room include Joshua Bellamy, Deonte Thompson, Daniel Braverman, Cam Meredith, and, of course, White. Wheaton can see the potential in the ex-seventh overall draft pick.

“I couldn’t imagine all the stuff he’s been through, all the pressure that’s been put on him," Wheaton said. "But he’s a down-to-earth guy who works extremely hard, so I think he’s gonna get his. He’s a big-time playmaker, so I’m excited to see him play.

“They welcomed me with open arms. Everybody’s down to earth, been easy to talk to so when I have questions, I’ve been getting answers, so it’s been real easy for me.”

That surgically-repaired shoulder was cleared for full participation just in time for minicamp two weeks ago. And Wheaton won’t allow himself to become hesitant physically as he aims to conquer what hesitation he could have within the offense, working with quarterbacks not named Ben Roethlisberger.

“I really don’t think there’s time for that. When you’re ready to go, you just go,” Wheaton told us. “You come in, you work, you rehab. And for me personally I had to rehab a lot to get back to where I wanted to be. There’s a level I want to be at. I’ve been just working to get there, so there’s no time for that.”

That last statement comes even if some observers hesitate to call Wheaton and these wideouts “underrated.” They’ll start attempting to prove that when the Bears report to Bourbonnais exactly one month from Monday.