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  1. #1
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    Interesting article about Lance Briggs and contract figures

    Big payoff coming Briggs' way
    December 22, 2006
    BY BRAD BIGGS Staff Reporter

    Playing for his future was never a gamble in Lance Briggs' mind.

    It couldn't be after he left more than $30 million on the table in April, when negotiations for a six-year extension with the Bears ended. He sought more, and the only place to find it was on the open market, where he will be in a little more than two months. Briggs and Indianapolis Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney figure to be the most coveted players.

    Call it a roll of the dice if you like, but Briggs refuses to say there was chance involved with his long-term future when he elected to play out his Bears contract this season for $721,600 -- as big a bargain as you will find in the league for a linebacker in his second Pro Bowl season. He has avoided injury and maintained a high level of play, putting himself on the verge of becoming a wealthy man many times over.

    With two meaningless regular-season games remaining, if Briggs has contemplated that his Bears career might have only weeks to go, he's not admitting it.

    ''Not so much,'' he said. ''It's not something that takes over my mind. I'm consumed with winning.''

    The idea was floated by Joe Theismann during the ''Monday Night Football'' telecast from St. Louis earlier this month that Brian Urlacher, who has the biggest contract on the team, could do something to help the Bears retain Briggs. Lobbying management is about all he could do.

    ''He's done the same thing he did last year, probably even better,'' Urlacher said before rattling off Briggs' stats like a trained PR man. ''More tackles, four caused fumbles, two picks, a sack -- you can go on about his numbers. He's one of our playmakers, and he's probably going to do this for a long time.''

    Urlacher has a base salary of $3.95 million this season and the next two; his deal doesn't spike upward until 2009. If anything, he will be in line for a new deal himself when you consider that since he signed his nine-year, $56.655 million contract in June 2003, the salary cap has grown by more than 35 percent.

    And in turning down the Bears' offer, Briggs no doubt had his eye on the reported seven-year, $54 million deal that linebacker Julian Peterson got from the Seattle Seahawks, including $18.5 million guaranteed. If Briggs got that, the Bears' pay scale would be out of whack and Urlacher's deal likely would have to be reworked.

    The salary cap is $102 million this season and will climb to $109 million next year. The Bears have enough room to do anything they want; it's just a matter of prioritizing.

    Quarterback Rex Grossman is signed only through next season, as are cornerbacks Charles Tillman and Nathan Vasher. Popular opinion had management looking to lock up defensive tackle Tommie Harris long-term. He's signed through 2008 but has to be a question now, coming back from hamstring surgery. Before his injury, Harris had seen a dip in his play from his dominance in the first four games.

    General manager Jerry Angelo might have to reconsider his offseason. He has said he won't rule out making one more run at Briggs, but at some point you have to say you made your best effort and move on. The interesting dynamic at play is that with the vast amount of cap room the Bears will have, they could simply place the franchise tag on Briggs.

    Angelo has said he doesn't like using a tag, and he hasn't done so in six seasons with the Bears. But in this new frontier, he hasn't ruled anything out. The franchise tag for Briggs this season would have been $7.169 million, the average of the five highest-paid players at his position.

    ''Franchise tag to me means franchise player,'' Briggs said when asked to play word association. ''I'm not really ready to start thinking about that.''

    If the Bears don't tag Briggs, he'll draw serious interest, with many teams operating from the same position as the Bears -- with a wealth of cap room. Freeney could get the franchise tag from the Colts, but there are other interesting ends, including the New Orleans Saints' Charles Grant, the Atlanta Falcons' Patrick Kerney and the Cincinnati Bengals' Justin Smith. The Baltimore Ravens' Adalius Thomas might be the only competition Briggs has at his position.

    The question the Bears will have to answer after the season is how valuable Briggs is to their success. It's easy to document what the losses of Harris and strong safety Mike Brown have meant to the defense.

    Jamar Williams was drafted with the idea of being a potential replacement for Briggs, but he hasn't done a lot of learning on the job from injured reserve. Another possibility, Leon Joe, has had about half his season wiped out by pesky hamstring injuries.

    Agent Drew Rosenhaus said earlier this year that the best advice he gives his clients is to do their negotiating on the field. That's the only place Briggs has made much noise. He has been as quiet as a player can be in a contract year.

    ''That's the one thing about Lance that people have got to realize,'' defensive coordinator Ron Rivera said. ''He came to play. Whether he gets a new contract now or however it works out, he's proven that he's going to show up and play hard.

    ''He decided he was going to play with his current contract and let the chips fall as they may, but he also wanted to do something about that.''

    There we go again, another gambling reference.

    ''You've got to remember, I'm playing football,'' Briggs said. ''In my mind, I can't lose with football.''

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  2. #2
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    Re: Interesting article about Lance Briggs and contract figures

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick
    And in turning down the Bears' offer, Briggs no doubt had his eye on the reported seven-year, $54 million deal that linebacker Julian Peterson got from the Seattle Seahawks, including $18.5 million guaranteed. If Briggs got that, the Bears' pay scale would be out of whack and Urlacher's deal likely would have to be reworked.
    If the Rams gave him a deal like that and he agreed on it, how much money would the Rams have left to sign other FAs and Draft picks? Pisa and Little had their contract extensions and I'm not sure how much the Rams have left.
    Last edited by RamsFan4ever; -12-23-2006 at 12:25 PM.

  3. #3
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    Re: Interesting article about Lance Briggs and contract figures

    Very interesting development if you ask me?

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    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Interesting article about Lance Briggs and contract figures

    Quote Originally Posted by RamsFan4ever View Post
    If the Rams gave him a deal like that and he agreed on it, how much money would the Rams have left to sign other FAs and Draft picks? Pisa and Little had their contract extensions and I'm not sure how much the Rams have left.
    It's really fairly impossible to say at this point without knowing more about our cap situation and what not, but I think generally the impression I got from that article is that it's going to be too expensive. I mean, we just signed Witherspoon to a six-year $33 million deal and Pisa to a five-year deal worth about $25 million. It's highly unlikely we tie up another big contract to a third linebacker, IMO.
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  5. #5
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    Re: Interesting article about Lance Briggs and contract figures

    We won't spend that much on an OLB. If it was Urlacher, I would break the bank on him.

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    Re: Interesting article about Lance Briggs and contract figures

    As usual, nick is the voice of reason in the stormy seas. We arent going to pay 18 million guaranteed for an outside linebacker (or any linebacker for that matter). Defensive end is a MUCH higher priority and bulger must get signed long term.

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  7. #7
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    Re: Interesting article about Lance Briggs and contract figures

    Quote Originally Posted by general counsel View Post
    As usual, nick is the voice of reason in the stormy seas. We arent going to pay 18 million guaranteed for an outside linebacker (or any linebacker for that matter). Defensive end is a MUCH higher priority and bulger must get signed long term.

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    Nick and GC are right, thats crazy what the seahawks paid peterson and if briggs is looking for that he needs to look elsewhere.

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