The Miami Dolphins traded enigmatic wide receiver Brandon Marshall to the Chicago Bears hours before the start of free agency, clearing cap room for a possible run at Peyton Manning.
Marshall was traded for a 2012 and 2013 third-round pick. He will reunite in Chicago with Jay Cutler, his former Denver Broncos teammate.
The Dolphins freed $5.5 million in cap space with the trade and could use the money to pursue Manning and his former Indianapolis Colts teammate Reggie Wayne.
Marshall was acquired by Miami for two second-round picks during the 2010 offseason. He had asked for a trade out of Denver and the team found a willing suitor in Bill Parcells, who always served as a sort of Father Flanagan for troubled receivers. The team signed Marshall to a five-year contract extension that guaranteed $24 million.
[ Related: Fantasy impact of WR Brandon Marshall joining Bears ]
As in Denver, Marshall had his moments but was ultimately a source of frustration for coaches and teammates. There were whispers that Manning could spurn Miami because of a lack of desire to play with the 27-year-old receiver.
Cutler appears to have no such qualms. During a January exchange on Twitter, Marshall wrote that he missed his former teammate. Cutler responded, "I can get #15 [Marshall's old uniform number] out of storage! Suit you back up."
"These young duos are the old us," Marshall responded, presumably talking about Tim Tebow and Demaryius Thomas, who had connected hours earlier on a game-winning touchdown in overtime.
"Please. We can run circles around these guys," Cutler wrote back.
Marshall won't be a stabilizing force in the Bears' locker room, but his explosiveness could outweigh his combustibility. Chicago hasn't had a playmaking receiver in years. Marshall, along with Cutler and the running of Matt Forte, could be a spark to a Bears offense that desperately needs one.
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