NEW YORK — Brandon Marshall knew he was on his way out of Chicago. He heard all the rumors. Things got rocky with the Bears last season, so a change appeared inevitable.
“I kind of felt it over the last two months,” Marshall said during a conference call. “So my agent and I just prepared ourselves emotionally and also from the business standpoint for that day. So, it really wasn’t unexpected.”
The New York Jets agreed to a deal for Marshall on March 6, and it became official March 10 as the NFL’s free agency period started. The Jets sent a fifth-round draft pick to Chicago for the playmaking wide receiver and a seventh-rounder.
For Marshall, it will be his fourth NFL team. And, he hopes, his last.
“Oh, man, yeah,” he said. “That was the plan in Chicago, and that’s definitely the plan here in New York.”
Marshall, who turns 31 on March 23, played the last three seasons with the Bears. But he dealt with injuries and had 61 catches last season, his lowest total since his rookie year with Denver in 2006. He also clashed with teammates at times, and even his relationship with quarterback Jay Cutler appeared a bit strained.
“We’re the brothers that, we love each other and we also get into it, but it’s always been that way and it will never change,” Marshall said. “I love him.”
New Jets coach Todd Bowles was in Miami as the Dolphins defensive coordinator while Marshall was there for two seasons. The two hit it off then, and Marshall is excited to be reunited with Bowles.
“Look out, everybody. He’s a man’s man,” Marshall said of Bowles. “He’s a leader.”
Marshall has watched what the Jets and new general manager Mike Maccagnan have done during an aggressive last few days, including trading for him and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and signing cornerbacks Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie and Buster Skrine, and safety Marcus Gilchrist.
“These guys have created something special,” Marshall said. “This is a young team, a team that’s hungry. It’s going to be a special journey.”
He comes to the Jets as a true No. 1 wide receiver, a guy who has caught 100 or more passes in five seasons and had at least 1,000 yards receiving every year from 2007-13.
In offensive coordinator Chan Gailey’s system with the Jets, Marshall expects to be a “big piece” but used in whatever way is most effective.
“I think with this offense and with what Chan does, spreading the ball around, is going to help us out a lot,” he said. “But I do think I’m going to be in position because of how great a job he does creating matchups to really take my game to another level and I’m looking forward to that.”
In Chicago, Marshall saw his targets decrease from earlier in his career as the Bears brought in Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett to pair with him and running back Matt Forte to help Cutler run a potentially high-scoring offense.
He sees the potential for a similar situation with the Jets, especially with Eric Decker complementing him at wide receiver.
“We might be going against a team where he might have the best match-up and Decker might be the guy with 10, 11 catches and I may just have two,” Marshall said. “Five years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to cope with that the right way.”
Marshall’s actions on and off the field have sometimes been an issue in his previous stops. He’s known as a fiery competitor, and has been willing to speak his mind, calling out teammates at times and rubbing some the wrong way.
He is also well-spoken and thoughtful, parlaying that into a role on Showtime’s Inside The NFL, a gig that required him to fly from Chicago to New York every Tuesday. His commute would be a lot closer now from the Jets’ facility in Florham Park, New Jersey.
“It’s only a 30-minute ride to Showtime,” he said, “if we choose to do that again.”
Marshall has said he suffers from borderline personality disorder, and has been an active spokesman for mental health during the last few years. He has been fined by the NFL in the past for wearing green cleats to support his mental illness foundation.
“I was lost and really didn’t cope and deal with things the right way the first couple of years,” Marshall said. “My second year in Miami (2011) is when there really was a transformation in my life and in my heart, and I started to see the world the way it’s supposed to be seen.
“Since then, I’ve been living my life in a way that, I haven’t been perfect,” he added, “but one that I would say that I’m happy with and feel that I’m being an effective, healthy citizen wherever I am.”
(DENNIS WASZAK Jr., AP Sports Writer)Source: The National Herald