- Rivers McCown, Football Outsiders
The Chicago Bears came into this offseason needing to fix two major problems: They had no go-to wide receiver, and the perennially disappointing offensive line needed to be overhauled. So far, they have addressed the first problem (though perhaps not in the smartest way), but Chicago continues to desperately need fresh blood on the offensive line.
The Bears made a splash the instant that free agency opened, reuniting quarterback Jay Cutler with former Broncos teammate Brandon Marshall at the cost of two third-round picks. If you were to ask a scout to draw up exactly the kind of receiver Chicago needed, Marshall would fit that profile. He is a high-volume target who can get open on deep and intermediate routes, and he has the frame and skill to convert on key third-down plays.
Unfortunately, by our numbers, Marshall hasn't exactly played up to that skill set. Last season, he had a 9.8 percent DVOA, good for 36th in the NFL. (DVOA is Football Outsiders' defense-adjusted value over average metric, explained here.) That was his best career ranking in DVOA and only the second time he finished a season with a positive score. Despite his eye-popping traditional numbers, Marshall has had just one season with a catch rate above 60 percent. His statistics deserve some slack since Marshall has always been the focal point of his team's passing game, but when you consider the opportunity cost of two third-rounders and Marshall's fairly hefty contract, trading for Marshall wasn't exactly the slam-dunk move many have called it.
16hEric D. Williams