Brandon Marshall will watch the free agent market closely

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Brandon Marshall has been highly productive since being traded to the Bears a couple of seasons ago. He’s going into the final year of his deal and will look to be extended by Chicago but at what cost?

This year’s crop of free agent wide receivers isn’t overly impressive. Eric Decker and James Jones figure to be a top the market once free agent season begins.

Marshall will watch what happens very closely. Is Eric Decker worth $10 million a year? That will put him on par with Vincent Jackson and Andre Johnson. Decker is a productive player but he is not one of the top five receivers in the NFL.

Currently Marshall makes a little over $9 million per year. He comes in as sixth on the highest paid receiver list. What should excite Marshall and concern the Bears are the two top players on the list.

Miami Dolphins receiver MIke Wallace makes $15 million per year. He was a major disappointment and now has one of the worst contracts in the league from a team standpoint. The Dolphins committed $27 million in guaranteed money to him.

Percy Harvin had a great Super Bowl but he played in only one regular season game in 2013. He had one catch for 17 yards. Harvin has played in only 10 games over the past two years and still has five years left on his deal. Harvin got six-years, $64 million with $14.5 million guaranteed.

Marshall will likely want to be paid like a top three receiver in the league. This will force the Bears to bump him above DeSean Jackson’s annual salary of $10.5 million. Jackson’s salary will drop to $9.7 million in 2015 and $8.25 million in 2016.

The Bears and Marshall can find some common ground around $10.5 million per year. The years and guaranteed money will be tricky. Marshall is an elite receiver who deserves at least $20 million guaranteed.

Keeping Marshall happy is a primary focus. The eight-year veteran has been to five Pro Bowls but never the playoffs. He will work with the team and give them a discount and every opportunity to have his contract structured so the team can allocate money to other positions.

Then it all goes back to Eric Decker and James Jones. It will be a sign of disrespect if either of the guys gets paid the same or more than what Marshall is making. This year’s free agency period will have an indirect affect of what happens in the Marshall negations.

We identified Decker and Jones as two of the top free agent wide receivers. Curious about the others? Here’s a list of the top 10 according to our national site.

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