Like the many passes he's caught in his career, the future of Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall is up in the air. The 30-year-old receiver is coming off an injury plagued and ineffective season and is due a guaranteed $7.5 million on March 12 if he's still on Chicago's roster. The team could save just south of $4 million if it cuts ties with him.
The pass-catcher hopes to remain in Chicago, though he acknowledges that may not happen.
"I definitely love Chicago, but I definitely understand it's a business on both ends," Marshall said.
So if the Bears were to part ways with Marshall, which teams would make sense as potential landing spots?
1. Oakland Raiders
The Raiders will be in an advantageous position when free agency opens next month with roughly $50 million in salary cap space to work with. The team reportedly intends to add receiving help this offseason to aid quarterback Derek Carr's development. While Randall Cobb has been mentioned as a possibility (and Amari Cooper as a draft possibility), Marshall would make a lot of sense as well.
Despite this down season, Marshall is one of the most sure handed receivers in the entire NFL. He's topped 100 receptions in five of his nine NFL seasons. At 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, Marshall would be the type of big No. 1 target any quarterback, let alone a second-year passer, would welcome into an offense.
The Raiders have the money and they have the need. Why not make this happen?
2. New York Jets
The Jets have no idea who will be playing quarterback for them in 2015. The one thing they do know is that they need to add talent to their pass-catching corps. Percy Harvin caught just 29 balls for the team after being acquired in an early season trade. His lack of production and enormous cap hit ($10.5 million) could lead to a release this offseason.
Marshall could be a consistent option in an offense that features the talented yet streaky Eric Decker and Jace Amaro. Whether Marcus Mariota falls into their laps in the draft or New York gives Geno Smith another shot (doubtful), a quarterback needs weapons. Given improved health, there aren't many better weapons in the NFL than Marshall.
3. New England Patriots
The Patriots have been linked to every big name wide receiver in recent memory. Yes, the team did just win a Super Bowl without a traditional stretch-the-defense No. 1 WR. But adding talented veterans is Bill Belichick's forte.
Doesn't it seem too perfect of a story for the Bears to give up on Marshall, only for him to resurrect his career with Tom Brady throwing him passes in New England? The Pats don't have a whole lot of cap space this offseason, but for a team that ranked 22nd in pass plays of 20-plus yards, wouldn't fitting Marshall in be worth it?