Bears extend Lance Briggs

Updated: April 11, 2012, 8:17 PM ET
By Michael C. Wright | ESPNChicago.com

The Chicago Bears announced Wednesday they had agreed to terms with linebacker Lance Briggs on a one-year extension that will lock up the veteran through 2014.

"Didn't really take long," Briggs said on a conference call. "I know that they spoke with (agent Drew Rosenhaus) at the Combine, and obviously we had to give free agency some time so the Bears could acquire the players they wanted in the first couple of weeks. So really from about three weeks into free agency to a week or so ago is about how long it took.

"I'm grateful, just very appreciative right now that the work has been recognized and that it got handled as fast as it did."

New general manager Phil Emery, who replaced Jerry Angelo after the season, viewed it as a positive step.

"We're very excited for Lance and for the Bears," Emery said in a statement. "Lance has been a very valuable and productive member of our team; seven straight Pro Bowls is quite a record of success. This is a very positive step for our team in our efforts to win championships."

Financial terms weren't immediately available. But going into last season Briggs approached the team seeking a raise over the $3.65 million and $3.75 million in base salaries he was set to receive in 2011 and 2012, and asked for a trade if the Bears couldn't accommodate the request.

"There were some times it was kind of difficult dealing with (Angelo), but at the end of the year we had some open talks with Jerry," Briggs said. "He voiced that my contract was something that needed to be addressed. It just so happened that he got fired the very next morning."

At the time of Briggs' request, the linebacker's contract didn't contain any more guaranteed money.

The announcement of the extension comes at a time the organization remains mired in a disagreement over a potential new contract for running back Matt Forte, and as franchise stalwart Brian Urlacher enters the final year of his deal.

"(Forte is) a grown man, and I'd tell him to do what he feels is right," Briggs said. "I can't come in his house and say that I'm gonna feed his family; neither can you or anybody else. He knows what his value is, and I think all of us knows what his value is. I will continue to support and hope he gets the deal he knows he deserves.

"Me and him are in two different types of situation. We're dealing with two different types of money and two different types of deals. I'm hoping his situation gets resolved soon, and I want him to be happy."

Briggs was originally scheduled to earn $6.25 million in 2013. So it's likely -- given that cap room is shrinking -- the new deal includes an up-front bump in the form of a signing bonus that can be prorated over the next three years and would likely aid in reducing his potential cap number.

An eight-year veteran, Briggs, 31, continues to produce at a high level. Briggs has been named to seven consecutive Pro Bowls, and is the fourth linebacker in franchise history -- along with Dick Butkus, Bill George and Mike Singletary -- to accomplish the feat. Briggs led the team in tackles (147) for the fourth time in his career in 2011, and ranked third in stops for lost yardage (eight) in addition to picking off one pass and forcing two fumbles.

Briggs' career tackles total is 1,286 to go with 10.5 sacks, 13 interceptions and 14 forced fumbles.

Since entering the NFL in 2003, Briggs leads the league in the "stuffs" category, according to STATS LLC, totalling 65.5 tackles of a rusher for negative yardage.

Michael C. Wright

ESPN Chicago Bears reporter

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