Armed with a new contract, wide receiver Brandon Marshall expects nothing less of himself than what he's given the Chicago Bears over the past two seasons. On and off the field.
In an emotional news conference to officially announce his three-year, $30 million contract extension Thursday at Halas Hall, Marshall thanked everyone from his wife and agent to the Bears' grounds crew and marketing department. He made it clear he credits his success and some of his turnaround from a troubled past to being part of the Bears organization.
"Well, the transformation started in my life before I was traded here, but I think it was career saving," Marshall said of the trade by Bears general manager Phil Emery of two third-round draft choices to Miami to reunite Marshall with his friend, quarterback Jay Cutler. "I don't think I'd be sitting in this position talking about an extension.
"I probably wouldn't even be having the success that I was having on the field in that environment (in Miami). It wasn't right for me."
The nine-year veteran has gone over 1,000 yards receiving seven straight years, and in his two Bears seasons had career highs of 11 and then 12 touchdown catches.
Despite Marshall's production, the borderline personality disorder that led to a sometimes violent past had scared off many NFL executives, except Emery. He initiated the trade to unite Marshall and Cutler in 2012.
"That was bold," Marshall said of Emery. "I don't think there was any other teams that would have pulled that one off. But I really appreciate you."
The contract extension makes Marshall a Bear through 2017. Marshall had one year left on his deal, but actually sought an extension in 2013. Negotiating an extension two years away from expiration of an existing one has been against Emery's policy.
But the GM had no problem with making Marshall the 34th Bears player to sign a contract since the final week of 2013.
Emery said it was a part of his plan all along.
"When it was time, it was time," Emery said. "This is a great player, and he's been a great teammate. There's never a bad time to sign a great player and a great teammate."
Marshall actually announced the deal himself on the television program, "The View," earlier in the week, while appearing as an activist for borderline personality disorder awareness.
Wearing a navy blue suit with an orange pocket handkerchief Thursday — Bears colors — Marshall used that handkerchief to wipe away tears after recalling how agent Kennard McGuire impacted his life while with the Denver Broncos, and how his wife, Michi Nogami-Marshall, helped him to treat his borderline personality disorder.
"You're my lifeline," he told his wife at the news conference. "You were my inspiration to get the help that I needed, and I thank you."
Playing with Cutler in Marc Trestman's offense, Marshall was part of the league's fifth-ranked passing offense, a major turnaround for a team that struggled throwing the ball since the mid-1990s.
Marshall sees similar production coming in 2014, although the receiving cast has changed. Veteran Earl Bennett is gone, while second-year receiver Marquess Wilson is expected to step forward and team with Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.
"What we did last year was really tough," Marshall said. "You bring in a new coach with a really sophisticated offense, like we like to say, it's science to our football.
"You got Jay, he's been in different offenses almost every other year. It's a tough transition. So for us to make that big of a leap last year says a lot about our coaching staff and our players. So this year I think that that's something to build off and we can possibly even be better."
Marshall said he tells Cutler every year will be his breakout year despite having made the Pro Bowl five times. So he expects next season to be the next breakout.
"Jerry Rice had his breakout year in Year 11," he said. "So, I am in nine, so I think I can do it."
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