Ryan Pace: Trade best for Bears and Brandon Marshall

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace spoke highly of Brandon Marshall on Tuesday, but explained he did what was best for both parties last week in trading the receiver to the New York Jets.

“He’s a good football player,” Pace said. “Going forward, we felt this was the best for us. Quite frankly, it’s the best situation for him, too. So that’s where we’re at.”

In addition to giving up Marshall, the Bears sent a seventh-round pick to New York in exchange for the Jets’ fifth-round pick. The compensation seemed low considering Marshall produced 15 games in which he racked up 100-plus yards receiving in three seasons as a Bear.

Since entering the NFL in 2006, Marshall ranks third in receptions (773), fifth in receiving touchdowns (65) and sixth in receiving yardage (9,771).

Pace said the trade compensation from the Jets “was fair” and also explained some of the factors behind the decision.

“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.”

During his brief tenure in Chicago, Marshall picked up a reputation for being a distraction by detractors for some of his minor, off-the-field transgressions such as challenging a Lions fan to a fight on Twitter and his weekly commitment as an analyst on Showtime’s “Inside the NFL” as well as speaking his mind and challenging teammates and coaches.

Pace and head coach John Fox never spoke directly about how the decision to trade Marshall might have been a play by the organization to improve locker-room chemistry. But Pace was asked how Marshall’s absence might affect the locker room.

“I’m not sure,” Pace said. “We’re building this thing moving forward. We have a lot of time, guys. Free agency is occurring as we’re speaking. We have the draft going forward as we speak. We have a lot of time to continue to build the roster, build the chemistry, and build the locker room. To speak exactly on how that changes the locker room, I’m not too sure about that.”

What is certain, however, is the team’s need to find a way to replace Marshall’s production. The Bears brought in San Diego’s Eddie Royal on Monday night for a visit at Halas Hall, and Pace said the team is looking in free agency and the upcoming draft to add receivers.

Chicago’s current roster features Alshon Jeffery at receiver along with Josh Bellamy, Marc Mariani, Josh Morgan and Marquess Wilson. The club lost out on marquee free agents such as Randall Cobb, Jeremy Maclin, Torrey Smith and Andre Johnson, as all have agreed to new deals.

“I would say the receiver position, we are looking at that. We are exploring that in free agency, in the draft,” Pace said. “There are guys, honestly, on our own roster that we could see have ascending roles. We’ll add talent to our entire roster. But, yeah, we are looking at receivers.”