Former Chicago Bears receiver Brandon Marshall still considers quarterback Jay Cutler a brother, but was uncertain whether their often-strained relationship facilitated his recent trade to the New York Jets.
"It depends," Marshall said Friday during a conference call with the New York media. "The new coach was brought on, and our new general manager. They don’t know us. All they can go on is what they hear, what they see, what they saw from afar. I’ve always described our relationship this way -- and it hasn’t changed -- that we’re brothers. We’re the brothers that we love each other, but also get into it. And it’s always been that way and it will never change. I love him, his family. I love his sons. And I wish him the best."
Marshall and Cutler shared a hot-and-cold relationship during their time together in Chicago, with each never shying away from sharing their opinions about one another in private. Publicly, the duo for the most part remained supportive of one another.
But on Dec. 8, Marshall was asked about a report on NFL Network's "NFL GameDay Morning" in which Chicago was described as grappling with buyer’s remorse regarding Cutler. Marshall mentioned all the club's issues weren’t the quarterback's fault, but also said he understands the situation and "would have buyer’s remorse, too"
In three seasons with the Bears, Marshall racked up 100-plus yards receiving in a game 15 times. Since entering the league in 2006, Marshall ranks third in receptions (773), fifth in receiving touchdowns (65), and sixth in receiving yardage (9,771).
Marshall had 279 catches for 3,524 yards and 31 touchdowns during his Chicago tenure.
Bears general manager Ryan Pace said the decision to trade Marshall came after a thorough evaluation of the club's roster.
"It’s kind of analyzing the whole roster and just looking at what’s best for the Chicago Bears and what’s best for Brandon Marshall," he said. "That was our decision going forward. He was understanding [of the move], but I like to keep a lot of those conversations internal. I think we both feel good about where we’re at right now."
Prior to finishing the season with 721 yards on 61 receptions in 2014, Marshall had put together seven consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. Marshall fought through nagging leg injuries most of last season, and finished on Injured Reserve because of fractured ribs and a punctured lung.
On top of the production dipping, Marshall participated in a couple of instances that were construed as distractions; most notably, a postgame locker room rant after a loss to the Miami Dolphins. He also challenged a Detroit Lions fan to a boxing match on Twitter, and also spent time during the work week performing as an analyst on Showtime’s "Inside the NFL."
Marshall turns 31 on March 23, and was asked whether he could maintain the production he’s churned out in recent years.
"No, I don’t feel like I’m the same guy. Absoluetly not," Marshall said. "If you’re staying the same, you’re getting worse. Every year I set the bar really high. I have high standards. I’ve heard those rumblings. What people don’t understand is a couple of years ago, I had to make a decision within myself. Everywhere I’ve been I’ve always been 'the guy.' I’ve always been the guy getting thrown 170, 180 balls. When we bring Alshon [Jeffery] down [to Florida to train] and help him take his game to the next level and he has a breakout year, now we have another 'guy.' Then you bring in Martellus Bennett. That’s another 'guy.' We had the workhorse, Matt Forte in the backfield. We had four guys who could really carry a team or an offense. We all had to make that decision to be selfless. Those targets were going to come down from 180, 190 to 150. It was going to go from 118 catches to about 90 catches."