Bears receiver Brandon Marshall wants to stop the presses. The biggest story of the Bears’ offseason isn’t one to him. He’d bury the lead.
“Jay [Cutler] will be back,” Marshall declared after the Bears’ season ended with a devastating 33-28 loss to the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field on Sunday.
“So all the stories for the offseason, you guys can just put that at the bottom. Write everything you have to say and then say, ‘Brandon said Jay will be back.’ Just like I said Jay would be back from the groin injury. Jay’s going be back [after] the contract year.”
Does he have inside info?
“I don’t . . . but he’s a heckuva player,” Marshall said. “That’s my QB.”
Well, the Bears’ chaotic offseason begins now, and Marshall isn’t scheduled to be a part of it. He’s signed past this season. Cutler and numerous other Bears are not.
The focus now turns to general manager Phil Emery, who is tasked with turning the chaos he knew was coming when took over for Jerry Angelo into a team better than 8-8.
It all starts with Cutler, of course.
“I’m not going to get into what’s going to happen,” said Cutler, who had his best performance against the Packers, completing 15 of 24 passes for 226 yards, two touchdowns and 103.8 passer rating. “It always works out how it’s supposed to.”
A couple weeks ago, Cutler referenced “Phil’s plan” and sounded every bit like a player who knew he was part of it — if he wanted to be.
Emery’s offseason plan already was put into motion last week. Kicker Robbie Gould was signed to a four-year extension, and then fullback Tony Fiammetta put his name on a two-year deal a day later.
And it’s not as if the Bears signed receiver Chris Williams off the Saints’ practice squad just at whim. Williams set a Canadian Football League record with six return TDs in 2012. He’s here for a reason — could it be to replace to Devin Hester?
“If I don’t get re-signed here, it’s going to be up to me and my agent,” Hester said. “We’re going to weigh out our options, try to get something done, but I don’t want to take it that far. Like I said, I’ve done a lot of things around here. It’s my eighth year. I’m trying to retire as a Bear, but at the same time this is a business, so it’s up to the guys upstairs.”
Player after player said he wanted to remain with the Bears on Sunday. A number said they’d “love to.”
But “this locker room is never going to be the same,” Cutler said.
The Bears’ injury-riddled defense is destined for an overhaul with cornerbacks Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings, defensive tackles Henry Melton, Nate Collins and Jeremiah Ratliff, safety Major Wright, defensive end Corey Wootton and other reserves looking for new deals.
Do you free up more salary-cap room and cut defensive end Julius Peppers, who had a very erratic 12th season? Do you keep the offensive line together and re-sign guard Matt Slauson and center Roberto Garza? Emery will examine a bevy of scenarios.
“Free agency or not, you don’t know who’s going to be here,” Jennings said. “Guys got emotional not knowing. But we can’t control that, man. Guys in here still have a lot of football left. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. It’s something we can’t really control. That’s upstairs and that’s for those guys. Right now, I know every guy’s heart is weighing heavy because of this loss we got tonight.”