Brandon Marshall Traded to Chicago Bears: Biggest Winners and Losers of the Deal
With this being one of the biggest stories this NFL offseason, the Bears offense has greatly increased expectations for 2012.
In short, here are three winners and three losers from this trade.
Winner: Jay Cutler
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The strong-armed quarterback Jay Cutler gets to reunite with his former teammate from the Denver Broncos.
From 2006 through 2008, Cutler and Marshall were teammates and connected 220 times for over 2,800 yards and 14 touchdowns.
After Josh McDaniels ousted Cutler, Marshall continued his solid production levels, but was never quite the same receiver. As for Cutler, he was never quite the same quarterback either, as he threw 26 picks in 2009 and fumbled nine times in 2010.
Now that Chicago has a deep threat and legit No. 1 target, the Bears passing offense will unfold quite well.
Loser: Any Dolphins Quarterback
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Whether it's Matt Moore, Chad Henne, Matt Flynn, any other free-agent quarterback or rookie from the draft, this trade hurts the Dolphins' 2012 starter.
The good news is that Miami could become an appealing team with numerous draft picks.
The bad news is that the Dolphins are in a rebuilding phase and are likely to field one of the league's youngest teams. In this case, patience is a virtue; dealing away a veteran receiver in the prime of his career is tough to immediately bounce back from.
Still, the Dolphins aren't much of a hot spot for any free-agent quarterbacks, which bodes well for Matt Moore. Let's see what the guy can do without Marshall.
Winner: Matt Forte
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Finally, Matt Forte can run the football without having to deal with a million defenders in the box to shut him down.
Now, opposing defenses will need to respect Chicago's passing game even more. Before Marshall, Cutler's strong arm and decent mobility were enough to divert some attention away from Forte.
With Marshall as part of the equation, though, we're going to see Johnny Knox develop quite well as a No. 2 receiver and Devin Hester in the slot.
In turn, Forte won't see eight defenders in the box every down. He will produce even more rushing yards and have a higher per-carry average. Bears fans should be excited.
Loser: NFC North Pass Defenses
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Last season the NFC North was the worst division from top to bottom in defending the pass.
Green Bay may have finished 15-1, but they ranked dead last by allowing 300 pass yards per game. The Detroit Lions went 10-6, but ranked No. 22 by allowing almost 240 pass yards per game and the Minnesota Vikings were No. 26, allowing just over 250 per game.
The Bears allowed 254 passing yards per game, which ranked No. 28.
With the Packers and Lions already boasting excellent passing offenses, Chicago can now be added to that category.
Last season the Bears ranked No. 26 in passing offense and averaged just 188 pass yards per game. Marshall will significantly boost that ranking. If you play in the secondary for the Lions, Packers or Vikings, 2012 just got a lot more difficult.
Winner: Brandon Marshall
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How could we discuss the winners and losers without including the man himself?
It's not very often we see two players who burned defenses early in their careers reunite shortly after being separated.
After all, Marshall was Cutler's No. 1 receiver in Denver and Jay threw for over 4,500 yards in 2008. You can imagine how Marshall felt when the Broncos dealt Cutler to Chicago before the 2009 season; any top receiver would have been upset.
Now, the two are set to dice up defenses once again.
Imagine the fantasy football implications! They'll be hot commodities next fall.
Loser: Reggie Bush
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Just when we thought Reggie Bush was beginning to really develop into an every-down and complete running back, the Dolphins traded away their best player.
In the final four games of 2011, Bush gained 519 rushing yards and averaged over six yards per carry during that span.
Without a stud No. 1 receiver out wide, defenses will simply load the box against Bush or double-cover him if he lines up in the slot.
Even if Miami drafts some highly talented receivers in April, those players will still have to develop and emerge as quality NFL targets. Marshall was already firmly established, so having to start over in that regard will put more pressure on Bush.
Unless Miami acquires a proven receiver via free agency, don't expect much production from Bush next season.
John Rozum on Twitter.