Originally posted on This Given Sunday  |  Last updated 3/16/12

MIAMI - AUGUST 14: Wide Receiver Brandon Marshall of the Miami Dolphins warms up prior to playing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a preseason game at Sun Life Stadium on August 14, 2010 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

With one big exception - Peyton Manning - most of the big names of free agency have landed already. But none of the players signed so far stand to have as big an impact as Brandon Marshall, acquired by the Chicago Bears in trade. Is it too early to declare da Bears the big winners of this offseason? With holes still to patch on their offensive line and the Matt Forte contract situation still unresolved, yes. But the Marshall trade puts them in the running right away.

This was robbery, plain and simple. Marshall's salary - $27 million over the next three years -  is extremely reasonable for his talent and production. Especially when you look at the dollars trucked out by Washington for two receivers whose talents combined don't match up to the new Bear. And the price paid by Chicago - a pair of third-rounders - might as well be free. Especially when you look at how both the Bears and Dolphins have used their third rounders recently. 

Successful Bears 3rd round picks 2002: LB Lance Briggs ('03), WR Bernard Berrian ('04), WR Earl Bennett ('08), CB Major Wright ('10)

Successful Dolphins 3rd round picks since 2002: DE Kendall Langford ('08), LB Channing Crowder ('05)

The Bears have a decent track record of finding talent in the third, so there is a little opportunity cost for Chicago, but nothing compared to the benefit reaped by getting top-three pick talent. Meanwhile, the Dolphins might as well have acquired a three-legged horse and a square-wheeled bicycle in exchange for Marshall, for all the good they're going to do with their picks.

Miami squandering draft picks traded to them in exchange for good players is nothing new. Few remember this now, but they actually received a good package of draft value for Wes Welker, originally an undrafted player. The Patriots paid a 2nd and 7th round pick for Welker's services back in 2007. But that Miami draft class, headlined by Ted Ginn Jr. and John Beck, was stunningly awful. 

The picks that New England surrendered turned into two seasons of inconsistent center Samson Satele and a punter. That in exchange for the player who led the league in receiving last season. The Brandon Marshall deal may turn out similarly, unless there are circumstances that we don't know about. 

As Daniel Eliesen writes on PhinsPhocus.com: "I took sometime and let it digest and decided that it is impossible that this is a singular move and that this trade had to set up another move by Ireland and crew." Dave Hyde of the Miami Sentinel goes a step further and says that the move only makes sense if Peyton Manning is involved. But Peyton now appears to be leaning strongly toward staying in the AFC South, and plan B, Matt Flynn, is beeing wooed passionately by the Seattle Seahawks.  

Reports of Marshall being involved in a possible assault outside a New York nightclub surfaced just hours after the deal was done, giving Dolphins fans a ready justification for letting the receiver walk away. That alone may prevent Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland from being ridden out of town on a rail, as Miami's nightmare offseason continues.

In the final calculation, though, talent wins games. The Bears just acquired the biggest talent available in this free agency pool, and will happily take on the job of trying to keep him in line. And the same Dolphins that went winless for the first two months of 2011, fall even further in talent while playing in one of the NFL's strongest divisions. 

So, how 'bout those Marlins?


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