Sources: Lance Briggs seeks raise

Updated: August 28, 2011, 5:46 PM ET
By Michael C. Wright | ESPNChicago.com

NASHVILLE -- Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs approached the organization in recent weeks seeking a raise over the $3.65 million in base salary he's scheduled to receive in 2011, multiple league sources confirmed early Sunday to ESPNChicago.com.

The Chicago Tribune first reported the news.

A six-time Pro-Bowl selection, Briggs missed his second preseason outing Saturday night because of a bruised knee, but he wasn't immediately available for comment.

According to one NFL source, Briggs seeks a raise commensurate to some of the recent high-profile linebacker signings around the league, but he lacks leverage because he has -- including this season -- three seasons left on a contract signed in March of 2008 that will pay him base salaries of $3.65 million in 2011, $3.75 million in 2012 and $6.25 million in 2013. His base salary this year doesn't include a $250,000 workout bonus, in addition to another $200,000 he's likely to earn in performance incentives.

Because of the length of time left on Briggs' deal, and likely his age (30), the linebacker -- similar to running back Matt Forte, who is seeking a lucrative extension -- appears to be facing an uphill climb to sway the organization to open up the coffers to his liking.

Sources indicate the Bears already have a deal on the table for Forte, worth more guaranteed money than the contract of Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles, who signed a six-year pact worth $27.97 million, and $10 million guaranteed. But Forte and the team haven't yet come to an agreement.

So current negotiations between the running back and the Bears would slow down any movement between the organization and Briggs, assuming the team would even engage in such talks.

Sources strongly indicate the Bears will likely force Briggs to honor his contract. The Chicago Tribune reported Briggs will demand a trade if the club doesn't extend a new deal before the end of the 2011 season.

But given the fact Briggs is older than every linebacker recently signing high-dollar deals, and that he won't be a free agent until after the 2013 season, the linebacker -- according to sources -- doesn't appear to own much leverage in the situation.

If Briggs doesn't receive what he considers a suitable raise, the linebacker might elect to sit out of voluntary conditioning programs or mandatory minicamps next spring. According to the new collective bargaining agreement, the fine for missing the first day of voluntary minicamp is $10,500, followed by fines of $21,000 for missing Day 2, and $31,500 for the third day.

If the impasse extended into training camp next year and Briggs elected to sit out, he'd face maximum fines of $30,000 for each day of his absence, plus a week's regular season salary for each missed preseason game.

Michael C. Wright covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.

Michael C. Wright

ESPN Chicago Bears reporter

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