WR Marshall Asked Harbaugh About Playing For RavensThis will stoke the Brandon Marshall-to-Baltimore flames for the next month.
Marshall, who is considered at least a top-10 NFL receiver, came under fire for working as an analyst on Showtime's "Inside the NFL" during the 2014 season.
He would travel to New York on Tuesdays, his days off, but coaches may not like it because it theoretically prevented him from getting proper rest for the next game or getting mandatory treatment if hurt. Teammates may not like it if he calls them out on TV.
That's where John Harbaugh comes into the picture.
Marshall interviewed Harbaugh at the Super Bowl for "Inside the NFL," and they can be seen laughing it up in the photo below (mobile users tap "View in browser") to see.
What were the two talking about?
"[During Super Bowl Week] I actually interviewed [Harbaugh]," Marshall said in the Showtime video below, posted by Tony Lombardi of Ravens 24x7. "I said, 'If I played for you, would you let me do 'Inside the NFL?'
"He said, 'Oh, absolutely.' He knew I was taking a lot of heat for doing the show. But, when you are the first in the space to do something like this, you are going to get a lot of push-back and we (The Bears) had the worst year possible."
Marshall may have been joking, and he did go onto say that he thinks 2015 will be better for him and the Bears. But there are questions swirling in Chicago right now as to whether he will be back.
The Bears have crazy-good offensive talent, but they reportedly had locker room issues last season and Marshall's name popped up a lot. Just yesterday, the Chicago Sun Times published the headline, "Bears should get rid of Brandon Marshall." The reasoning is "because he is a nightmare off the field who spends almost all of his time making sure the spotlight is on him and no one else. … [M]ore than a few of his teammates would gladly kick in for his bus ticket out of town," wrote Hub Arkush.
In short, he's perceived as a locker room distraction?
With strong leadership behind Harbaugh and players like Terrell Suggs and Joe Flacco, that may not be a problem if Marshall really were to land in Baltimore. And nobody is more qualified to know Marshall's effect on a team than Ravens Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman, who was the head coach in Chicago last year.
It's been just about nine months since Marshall signed a three-year deal last May, but that was with a different GM and head coach, and the Bears aren't locked in. The new regime – GM Ryan Pace and Head Coach John Fox – are calling the shots now, and they will decide whether it's time for a change.
"The Bears new management group and coaching staff has an out from the deal if it wants," wrote The Chicago Tribune's Brad Biggs.
Per The Tribune, Marshall is due a base salary of $7.5 million in 2015, and it becomes fully guaranteed if he is on the roster come March 12. So they have five weeks to make a decision.
If they cut him, they would save $7.7 million in cash, and $3.95 million in cap space. But he would count $5.625 million in dead money against the cap. In an injury-filled season, Marshall produced 61 receptions for 721 yards and eight touchdowns. That was considered a down season for the five-time Pro Bowler, and not enough production for $7.7 million, says Biggs.
It's not unreasonable to assume the 30-year-old receiver is in store for a bounce-back season, especially if healthy. The 6-foot-4, 230-pounder had seven straight 1,000-yard seasons prior to 2014. The Bears have another big-bodied wide receiver in Alshon Jeffery and they may prefer to pair him up with quicker, shifty receiver.
If the Bears don't cut him, they could also shop Marshall for a trade to stock some draft picks, which the CSNChicago.com crew discuses in the video below. That doesn't seem like General Manager Ozzie Newsome would do because he covets draft picks, but he did it for Anquan Boldin and they stuck a new deal as part of the trade. Newsome would certainly target a cap casualty, however, as it helps the compensatory pick formula.
But at the end of the day, the decision in Chicago won't come down to the salary cap or worry about whether he can bounce back.
"The team isn't going to be strapped for salary cap space so the Bears would not part ways with Marshall to create more flexibility," wrote Biggs.
"It is going to come down to whether or not General Manager Ryan Pace, coach John Fox and Offensive Coordinator Adam Gase, who was Marshall's position coach for a time with the Broncos, want to balance the production Marshall delivers vs. the distractions."
Preview: Ray Lewis Is On 'Coaching Bad'
Ray Lewis' new show is coming. Count me in to watch the premiere on February 8.
The future Hall of Famer will star on "Coaching Bad," which explores the epidemic of angry and abusive coaches on their players. Nine coaches from around the county come to Los Angeles for intense retraining and reconditioning from Lewis with the hope that they save their jobs and even marriage.
The show will air on Spike TV at 10/9c.
Check out the preview below:
Where Ravens Ranked On Signing Day
Yesterday was national signing day, where high school recruits officially agree with their college of choice by signing a letter of intent.
In honor of the day, ESPN's Jamison Hensley looked back at where Ravens players ranked coming out of high school. Here are a few:
Joe Flacco (class of 2003): Three stars, No. 39 among pro-style quarterback
Tyrod Taylor (2008): Five stars, No. 1 dual-threat quarterback
Justin Forsett (2003) Two stars, not rated among running backs
Bernard Pierce (2009): Two stars, not rated
Torrey Smith (2007): Three stars, No. 28 dual-threat quarterback
Eugene Monroe (2005): Five stars, No. 3 overall
Marshal Yanda (2005): Three stars
Haloti Ngata (2002): Five stars, No. 1 defensive tackle, No. 2 overall
C.J. Mosley (2011): Four stars, No. 6 outside linebacker, No. 56 overall
Jimmy Smith (2006): Three stars, No. 57 overall
Matt Elam (2010): Five stars, No. 2 among safeties
To see how these young high-schoolers looked like back in the day, check out this photo gallery:
Check out Rivals.com pics and Signing Day moments of current Ravens players.
WR Butler Wants More After Being Sidelined As Rookie
Undrafted rookie receiver Jeremy Butler was put on injured reserve with a shoulder injury, but Harbaugh didn't forget about him, regularly encouraging him to keep working.
"We talked a lot during the season and he's always telling me, 'What are you going to do? What are you doing to be better?'" Butler told The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson. "I'm definitely going to deliver. I'm not here to just be another guy. I want to have an impact and leave a legacy.
"In a weird way, this year probably added a couple of years to my career. I learned how to take care of my body and be a pro."
Butler's shoulder didn't require surgery and has been cleared for all offseason activities, per Wilson. The 6-foot-2, 217-pound youngster caught six passes for 50 yards and a touchdown during the preseason and showed a knack for pulling down contested passes.
Butler has a battle to rise up the depth chart with Steve Smith, Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, Kamar Aiken, Marlon Brown and Michael Campanaro all ahead of him. But he's determined to work hard and will try to find a way to contribute.
"I'm real excited," Butler said. "I'm taking it one day at a time and not trying to get too anxious. It's a great opportunity. You have a different mindset into your second season. It's a different feel to it. I'm real excited about earning my spot and contributing. I want to be a playmaker for this team. I love this organization. If you can play, you will get an opportunity."