After disposal of Brandon Marshall, can Jay Cutler be far behind?

It looks like Biggshit is back on his "Dump Jay! Start Josh!" campaign.

His CPAP machine must not be getting enough oxygen to his brain.


The only question remaining for the Bears with free agency fast approaching is whether or not Jay Cutler will need moving boxes also.

General manager Ryan Pace played addition by subtraction Friday, agreeing to trade Brandon Marshall to the Jets for what is reportedly a fifth-round draft pick. The deal cannot be consummated until 3 p.m. Tuesday and Marshall must pass a physical but he's as good as gone. The Bears likely would have released Marshall if they had not found a taker.

Pace and coach John Fox wouldn't commit to Marshall when asked about him last month at the scouting combine. They had similarly cold feet when discussing Cutler so until the Bears announce Cutler is their quarterback for 2015, anything is possible.

The Bears don't have a replacement on the roster for the 279 receptions, 3,524 yards and 31 touchdowns Marshall produced over the last three years. It's apparent the new regime also didn't possess the tolerance for the nonsense Marshall creates as a divisive force in the locker room.

Pro Bowl talents — and Marshall has been selected five times in his career, twice with the Bears — aren't given away for minimal compensation without good reason. The Bears are the third club to dump Marshall and this is the third time he has been traded in five years, putting him on the Terrell Owens' track when it comes to team hopping late in a career. What's amazing is the Bears flipped two third-round picks for Marshall in 2012 when the Dolphins were going to release him.

One NFL source said the Titans are the only realistic destination in terms of a trade for Cutler. It would be something if Pace could move Cutler and his guaranteed salary of $15.5 million for 2015. The solution isn't to start Jimmy Clausen, re-signed to a one-year contract Friday, or David Fales. But the Bears might believe the sooner they shed Cutler and begin the process of searching for their next quarterback, the better. They might desire as clean of a slate as possible, and moving on from Cutler after trading Marshall would sure accomplish that.

If Cutler is on the roster Thursday, a $10 million guarantee for 2016 kicks in. Absent a trade partner, would the Bears consider releasing Cutler before then? They would be on the hook for money this year but offset language in the contract would minimize their obligation. The difference is while there will be no shortage of wide receiver options both in free agency and more importantly the draft, it's a bad time to be in the hunt for a quarterback.

Marshall quickly asserted himself as the best wide receiver in franchise history. There's no disputing that. But he turns 31 later this month and is coming off an injury-plagued season. In 2013, he missed the entire offseason program recovering from the third hip surgery of his career. He's a possession receiver — a big, physical possession receiver. The Bears have another one of those on the roster in Alshon Jeffery, 25, who still is ascending. Replacing Marshall in the offense with a receiver who has more speed will create more X's and O's options for offensive coordinator Adam Gase.

Interestingly, the Bears had a shot at Marshall the first time he went on the market when the Broncos dealt him in 2010. With a second-rate cast of receivers at the time, they had no interest, fearing the baggage Marshall would bring with him, according to sources then prominent in the team's structure.

The greatest miscalculation by the organization, however, was going to Marshall a year early and handing him a new contract less than 10 months ago, one that paid him $15 million in 2014. He was insistent on receiving a new deal with one year remaining on his existing contract. The Bears acquiesced, perhaps in part because they knew what kind of trouble he would be if he wasn't extended. Maybe that should have been a sign to force Marshall to play out the final year of his contract to get the guaranteed dough.

The contract is the major hang-up with Cutler, another deal former general manager Phil Emery crafted, this one just 14 months ago. He's getting big money, even by quarterback standards, and led the NFL in turnovers last season. Marshall put up big numbers for the Bears and in three seasons with him they didn't make the playoffs. In the three years before his arrival, they played in two playoff games.

Maybe that's the number that matters here. Cutler has started two playoff games for the Bears in six seasons. It's no wonder Pace and Fox had cold feet at the combine.

It's going to be hard for either of them to say convincingly they're behind Cutler moving forward.

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