This past Monday, the Carolina Panthers became the first team to fire a head coach this season, parting ways with Matt Rhule after a 1-4 start to the season. This may indicate the start of a total rebuild for the Panthers, who struggled to remain competitive after their heartbreaking loss in Super Bowl 50. Though this may be a difficult time for the Panthers, the Chicago Bears could stand to benefit from the team’s apparent rebuild. Many Bears fans have already concocted trades that would send star Panthers wide receiver DJ Moore to Chicago. While Moore would be an instant upgrade for the Bears’ receiver room, he would likely cost a sizable haul of draft picks, not to mention the $52 million he’s owed over the next three seasons. Moore is appealing, but there’s another receiver on the Panthers’ roster who has tremendous upside at a significantly smaller cost: Terrace Marshall Jr.
Drafted with the 34th overall pick out of LSU in the 2021 NFL draft, Marshall hasn’t exactly had a stellar start to his career. He’s been buried on Carolina’s depth chart behind DJ Moore and Robby Anderson. In the limited time he’s seen the field, he’s dealt with an incompetent offensive scheme and a terrible group of starting quarterbacks. All of this has led Marshall to only have 21 receptions for 168 yards in 15 career games played. This may just seem like the story of a terrible receiver, but there’s hope for redemption with Marshall.
Terrace Marshall Jr. was an incredibly talented wide receiver going into the draft. He measured at 6’2,” 205 lbs and ran a 4.4 40-yard dash at his pro day (there was no combine that year due to the covid–19 pandemic). At LSU, he demonstrated good route-running, balance, and footwork. His college stats don’t jump off the page, but that can be attributed to him playing alongside Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase for the majority of his career. He profiled as a high-upside receiver when he came into the league; he simply hasn’t had the opportunity to demonstrate his talent. That’s where the Chicago Bears come in.
The Bears’ receiver room outside of Darnell Mooney is, quite frankly, abysmal. This has been a problem for quarterback Justin Fields and the offense as a whole, but it presents an opportunity for a receiver like Marshall. There isn’t anyone on this Bears team who would block Marshall from seeing significant playing time. If Marshall is, in fact, the talented receiver many draft pundits saw him as just over a year ago, he would be able to make a name for himself in Chicago. For the Bears, Marshall has high upside at a position of need. General Manager Ryan Poles has shown a willingness to take chances on former high draft picks, acquiring former first-round picks N’Keal Harry and Alex Leatherwood this past offseason. Because of his lackluster career thus far, Marshall would likely come at a low price for the Bears; if he only costs a sixth or seventh round pick, there’s no reason Ryan Poles shouldn’t take a chance on a player with tremendous upside.