Just three years after the Denver Broncos broke up one of the most promising quarterback-wide receiver duos in the league in Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall, the pair will be reunited in 2012 in Chicago.
Reports indicate that the Bears have traded their 3rd round pick in each of the next two drafts to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for Marshall.
During their time together in Denver, Cutler and Marshall combined to form one of the league’s most lethal quarterback-wide receiver combinations. Taken together in the 2006 draft (Cutler in the 1st and Marshall in the 4th), they rose to prominence during the 2007 season with Marshall on the receiving end of 102 passes for 1,325 yards and seven touchdowns.
For Marshall, that marked the beginning of three consecutive seasons that he topped 100 receptions and 1,000 yards. During that period, he amassed 307 receptions for 3,710 yards and 23 touchdowns.
Cutler was the Broncos quarterback for two of those seasons, throwing for 8,022 yards and 45 touchdowns.
However, the duo was broken up in 2008 when Josh McDaniels took over for the fired Mike Shanahan. McDaniels flirtation with current Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel led to Cutler’s trade to the Bears.
Marshall followed Cutler out of Denver the following season; traded to the Dolphins for a pair of 2nd round picks.
In Chicago, Marshall immediately becomes the team’s top wide receiver. The Bears have failed to land a true number one wide receiver for several seasons with Devin Hester, Johnny Knox, Roy Williams and Earl Bennett failing in that role in 2011.
The Dolphins chances of landing former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning are likely over with Marshall landing in Chicago unless this move is to clear cap space and facilitate the signing of Manning and wideout Reggie Wayne. Suffice it to say that the task for whoever is starting in Miami in 2012 just got a whole lot tougher.
In Chicago, there are plenty of questions with the Bears passing offense.
Can Cutler and Marshall reclaim their magic? Can Cutler produce more with offensive coordinator Mike Martz out of the picture? Will new offensive coordinator Mike Tice bring the team’s passing attack to a new level? Can the team fortify the offensive line to give the team’s passing attack a fighting chance?
Cutler is just 28 years of age and Marshall is 27. With five consecutive seasons of at least 1,000 receiving yards, Marshall has plenty left to offer. Despite being battered for much of his time in Chicago, Cutler’s best years almost certainly lie ahead of him.
Cutler was a fantasy backup prior to this trade but with Marshall in the fold, he becomes a low-end starting option or high-end backup, assuming the team’s offensive line play improves. Look for Cutler to top the 3,666 passing yards he had in Chicago in 2009, his highest total with the team.
Marshall figures to put up numbers similar to his time in Miami, where he averaged 83.5 receptions for 1,114 yards and 4.5 touchdowns. Look for the touchdown numbers to improve.
Hester, Bennett and Knox will battle for the starting spot opposite Marshall but none of them will be solid fantasy options in 2012.