- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Chicago Bears reporter
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A source confirmed the Bears informed Briggs he won’t be offered a contract to return to Chicago in 2015. Comcast SportsNet in Chicago first reported the news. As for San Francisco’s interest in Briggs, the Sacramento Bee, citing a league source, reported the 49ers have held discussions about the possibility of adding the veteran linebacker.
Interestingly, back in 2008, the 49ers lost a fifth-round pick when they were found to be guilty of tampering while Briggs was still under contract with the Bears. San Francisco linebackers Patrick Willis and Chris Borland recently retired, which has led to the 49ers essentially scrambling for help at the position.
The Sacramento Bee also reported the 49ers are interested in Tampa Bay linebacker Mason Foster. The Bears expressed interest in Foster early in free agency, according to a source. But the sides haven’t been able to come to an agreement on a deal.
A 12-year veteran, Briggs missed the last five games of the 2014 season after suffering a groin injury in the second quarter of the team's win against the Buccaneers.
Briggs, 34, wasn’t expecting the Bears to put an offer on the table prior to him hitting free agency. Before sitting out the last five games last season because of the groin injury, Briggs missed three other games due to a rib injury.
A seven-time Pro Bowler, Briggs earned $4.75 million in base salary in 2014, and isn’t expected to be able to command such a salary to return to the Bears in 2015.
Briggs has missed 11 games over the past two seasons. He missed seven outings in 2013 because of a fractured shoulder. Briggs contributed 63 tackles, an interception, and a forced fumble to go with two pass breakups and a quarterback pressure in eight starts in 2014.
Throughout his career, Briggs has produced 1,564 tackles, 95.5 tackles for lost yardage, 16 interceptions, 15 sacks, 19 forced fumbles, and seven fumble recoveries in addition to scoring six defensive touchdowns in 170 starts over 173 contests. Briggs' six defensive touchdowns rank as third most in franchise history. His 170 starts rank as fifth best in franchise history, trailing Walter Payton (184), Olin Kreutz (183), Brian Urlacher (180) and Mike Singletary (172).
Briggs led the Bears in tackles in five seasons (2004, '08, '09, '11, and '12), and posted 100 tackles or more in nine consecutive seasons from 2004 to '12.
A report by the Sacramento Bee indicated that the 49ers were looking to add veteran Lance Briggs in free agency.