Free Agency begins in less than a week (4 days, to be exact), and we're already seeing some movement around the NFL. It sounds like the Windy City will see some winds of change soon. Ok, bad pun, sorry.
But for real, Chicago appears to be the epicenter of change in the NFL right now. The Chicago Tribune reports that all indications are pointing towards veteran wide receiver Brandon Marshall leaving. There's a lot going on with his contract situation as he'll be fully guaranteed $7.5 million if he's still on the Bears' roster come Thursday. The Bears can obviously save that cap space if they opt to release him before then.
Now, there's precedent for this, we've seen Marshall be a bit of a headcase with other teams he's played for, the Dolphins and Broncos both got rid of him. When you compound his propensity for this behavior, with his contract, with the Tribune report, it's hard to see Marshall on the Bears' roster this year.
Then there's the Jay Cutler saga. It's been speculated since his benching last fall that the Bears would try to move him. That's well known. What isn't known is how in the hell they'll pull that off, given his gargantuan contract.
The Bears will have a big time decision to make next week regarding Cutler. As Ian Rapoport points out, his contract for not only 2015, but also for 2016, becomes fully guaranteed if he's on the Bears roster on Thursday.
If the #Bears aren't sold on Jay Cutler, as they've said publicly, his contract is an issue. $10M for '16 becomes fully guaranteed in a week— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 6, 2015
That means the Bears would be on the hook for $15.5 million this year, and $10 million next year for a guy they benched in favor of Jimmy Clausen. That's a boatload of cash. Ultimately, for the Bears and the rest of the league, that means that Cutler is available.
So, what does that mean for Cleveland?
If I were a betting man, I'd put $0 on the Browns making a play for Brandon Marshall. The melodrama that comes with him, coupled with the fact that he's 31 and most likely wants to play for a winning team, is too much for the Browns to make a big push. I'd imagine the more likely teams would be the Colts, Eagles, etc., teams that are looking to make a big push into the playoffs.
I'm not ruling out a Marshall trade/signing, but I'm calling it a major longshot.
UPDATE: No longer a longshot, he's gone to the Jets, per Schefter:
Bears have agreed to trade WR Brandon Marshall to the Jets pending a physical, per league source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 6, 2015
The move I'm more interested in would be Jay Cutler. Now, is this also a longshot? Certainly. Given the fact that the Browns just signed veteran journeyman QB Josh McCown last week, I'd imagine outside of a project-QB draft pick, they're likely to remain quiet on the QB front.
That is, however, unless they're completely over Johnny Manziel and are looking to make a splash move at QB. Cutler would certainly be a splash.
He comes with his own baggage, and the aforementioned massive contract, but that wouldn't deter me from making a deal.
I was all in on the Browns drafting Johnny, even before they actually did. I was elated when they pulled the trigger to draft him. But, I was also in the camp to "redshirt" him last year. Obviously that plan didn't work out, and we saw what happened on (and off) the field.
I'm not saying to throw in the towel on Manziel. But, I would make a move for Cutler seven days a week and twice on Sunday, if I were in charge. And Johnny Manziel would be irrelevant to this equation.
Despite Cutler's benching in December last season, he had put together a pretty decent season. He ended up starting 15 games for the Bears last year, and put together the following line: 3,812 yards, 28 touchdowns, 18 interceptions, 66% completion percentage. Anyone object to having that in Cleveland?
I get the major caveat that comes with that, the fact that Chicago has a ridiculous set of skilled players in Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, and Matt Forte. I do understand this. But the truth of the matter is that Cutler is a better QB option right now, than anyone the Browns have on their roster. Does that mean that Manziel can't blossom into a quality NFL QB? Of course not. But at this point Cutler is far superior to Manziel and McCown, who would also be irrelevant in this hypothetical trade. If they pulled off a trade for Cutler, McCown would be an expensive backup, that's all.
I've been on record in the past, and still am, that I would LOVE the Browns to trade for Cutler. I'm usually more optimistic than other Browns fans, but you're telling me that adding Jay Cutler, perhaps a FA WR, plus the two first-round picks, and the rest of the draft...this team can't compete for the division? I certainly would think so.
As I mentioned, I get that there's tons to factor in on both sides, but given the opportunity, would you be in favor of the Browns trading for Jay Cutler this offseason? Vote below, and let us know your thoughts in the comments!