David Richard/Associated Press
No. 1 Brandon Marshall
Cutler’s best friend on the team received a large contract extension during the offseason, four years, $39.3 million with $22.3 million guaranteed. Now the Bears need to hope that Marshall’s fat pockets don’t weigh him down. He will get this, though; that’s just part of being Cutty’s best bud.
Marshall caught 100 passes last season on 163 targets, leading to 1,295 yards and a career-high 12 touchdowns. A journeyman in life, Marshall has become one of the most likeable guys in the game. One thing that could knock him down a pedestal could the new gig he has on Showtime’s Inside the NFL, which films Tuesdays in New York City.
Basically, Marshall will be flying to New York on the Bears’ off day—Tuesday. How that will affect his on-the-field play, who really knows. But the additional travel certainly will take its toll at some point, right?
Marshall says it’s not going to be a problem, and the Bears somewhat surprisingly don’t seem too concerned.
As long as Marshall comes to play, expect the same numbers as or better numbers than he put up last season.
No. 2 Alshon Jeffery
This kid is the bee’s knees...the cat’s meow...the cream of the crop. Someone stop me.
Entering his third season in the league, Jeffery has shown to have it all. He’s big, tall, fast and strong. You name it; Jeffery has it.
As we saw last season, Jeffery has what former Bear receiver Tom Waddle calls “snatchability.” He’s clearly referring to Jeffery’s ability to go up and over defensive backs for the ball, and that requires a great leaping ability and strong hands. Few players in the league have Jeffery's big-play ability. See it here.
Jeffery caught 89 passes on 150 targets for 1,421 yards and seven touchdowns in 2013, his first full season after missing six games to injury in 2012.
It’s hard to envision his numbers getting any bigger in this offense as long as Marshall is still around and playing at such a high level. But Jeffery is playing for a new contract, as he becomes a free agent after the 2015 season. Both Jeffery and the Bears will want to get something done sooner rather than later.
Paired with Marshall, this duo is the best the NFL has to offer at this position. And for Cutler to have what most people expect to be the best season of his career, Jeffery will once again need to have the best season of his (short) career.
No. 3 Santonio Holmes
The Bears’ decision to sign Holmes has been very underrated. Holmes signed a one-year deal worth $855,000 with no guaranteed money. It was a no-risk proposition for Emery and Co. Well, clearly it worked out, because Holmes will be filling the hole left by Marquess Wilson, who broke his collarbone in training camp.
Holmes missed 17 games while with the New York Jets during the past two seasons, mainly due to a Grade 4 Lisfranc fracture—the worst kind of grade for this type of injury.
As a result, Holmes played as a shell of himself, only catching 23 passes in 11 games last season. Those are not exactly the numbers you’d expect from the guy who sat atop the depth chart.
In his two weeks with the Bears, Holmes seemingly has revitalized his career after battling from the painful injury. He saw limited action in the Bears’ third preseason game, which was only played a few days after he signed with the team.
It wasn’t until the fourth and final game that Holmes turned on the Jets. The former Super Bowl MVP caught one pass for 32 yards and a touchdown. He looked like the Holmes of old. On top of that contribution, he flashed on a punt return of 30 yards.
The signs are there that this move could be rather brilliant when it’s all said and done.
The Rest: Marquess Wilson, Josh Morgan, Michael Spurlock
The Bears have been high on Wilson since last season when the kid entered the league. Wilson is a big target (6-4) for Cutler. This is the kid who quit the Washington State University football team after a spat with head coach Mike Leach. This is what led to Wilson being drafted in the seventh round in 2013.
Wilson likely will miss somewhere in the range of 7-9 games. The Bears will be champing at the bit to get him back, too.