Brandon Marshall Traded to Bears as Free Agency Gets Under Way

The Miami Dolphins traded Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall to the Chicago Bears for two draft picks and the New Orleans Saints signed receiver Marques Colston to a five-year contract.

The New York Jets announced yesterday, as the National Football League’s free-agent signing period began, that they had agreed in principle with linebacker Bryan Thomas on a new contract. Thomas, who joined the Jets as a first-round draft pick in 2002, is the longest-tenured member of the team.

“Bryan has meant a lot to this organization over his 10 seasons and we are excited he will continue his career here,” General Manager Mike Tannenbaum said in a statement released by the Jets. “He is a versatile defender who is adept as a pass rusher and against the run.”

The Dolphins parted ways with Marshall, who has had at least 80 catches and 1,000 yards receiving in each of the past five seasons, as they try to sign free-agent quarterback Peyton Manning.

The Bears didn’t say which round the draft picks are in. FoxSports.com, which first reported the swap, said it involved two third-round choices.

Marshall, 27, was traded to the Dolphins from the Denver Broncos in April 2010 and was selected for the Pro Bowl last season for the third time after catching 81 passes for 1,214 yards and six touchdowns.

Marshall’s move to Chicago reunites him with Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. Marshall had a career-high 1,325 yards in 2007 and 1,265 in 2008, when both players were on the Broncos.

Manning’s Options

Manning met with Dolphins coach Joe Philbin and other team personnel for almost six hours two nights ago, according to ESPN.com. Having already met with the Broncos and Arizona Cardinals, he was also planning to visit with the Tennessee Titans, ESPN said.

Colston, who went to New York’s Hofstra University, had 80 receptions for 1,143 yards last season. He has 449 receptions for 6,240 yards in six seasons with New Orleans, including 48 touchdown catches.

“This was important to me, to be back with this team in this situation,” Colston said in a statement released by the Saints. “I was not looking to chase free agency; it was more important for me to be back in our program, a program we have been building and a program I believe in.”

The Saints did not release contract details. ESPN reported the deal is worth about $40 million.

“Since we drafted Marques in 2006, he’s been everything that we are looking for in a New Orleans Saint as a player and a person,” General Manager Mickey Loomis said in a statement released by the team. “Credit goes to Marques for wanting to get this deal done before free agency started.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Mason Levinson in New York at mlevinson@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net.

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