Brandon Marshall Instantly Legitimizes Bears’ Receivers, Could Free Up Dolphins to Make Serious Play for Peyton Manning

Brandon Marshall Instantly Legitimizes Bears' Receivers, Could Free Up Dolphins to Make Serious Play for Peyton ManningThe Bears immediately improved during Tuesday’s dawn of the new league year, but it had nothing to do with one of the biggest rumors of the week.

Chicago acquired wide receiver Brandon Marshall from the Dolphins for a pair of third-round draft picks, according to FOXSports.com, and Marshall adds instant legitimacy to the Bears’ atrocious group of wide receivers. Johnny Knox and Roy Williams led all Bears wide receivers with 37 receptions each in 2011, which is extraordinarily low.

Marshall also reunites with Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. The two spent three seasons together in Denver and have been good friends.

The move instantly takes away one of the AFC East’s premier wide receivers, too. Marshall had 81 catches for 1,214 yards and six touchdowns in 2011, and he has 37 receptions for 570 yards and three touchdowns in seven career games against the Patriots.

However, the trade might have long-term ramifications for the division. Marshall is owed $27.5 million in base salaries over the next three seasons, which played an obvious role on the Bears’ cheap price in trade compensation.

It also frees up a ton of money for the Dolphins as they continue to pursue quarterback Peyton Manning, who would probably prefer to throw passes toward free agents Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark rather than Marshall. If Manning, Wayne and Clark happen to be a package deal, the Dolphins pulled out a necessary move to free up plenty of money.

Finally, the Bears addressed one of their two greatest needs (with the offensive line being the other) by adding a No. 1 wide receiver. Earlier rumors insisted the Bears were hot for free agent defensive end Mario Williams, but Marshall’s price tag might have ruled out Williams’ chances to land a load of a contract in Chicago.

Have a question for Jeff Howe? Send it to him via Twitter at @jeffphowe or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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