Saturday, March 31, 2007
Bears wants Briggs back, but long-term deal 'unlikely'
CHICAGO -- The standoff between Lance Briggs and the Chicago Bears took another turn Saturday, when general manager Jerry Angelo said he wants the Pro Bowl linebacker to return next season, but a multiyear contract is unlikely.
"I'm not ruling it out 100 percent, but in all probability, that's not likely to happen," Angelo said during the team's fan convention.
The Bears and Briggs have been at odds since the team slapped the franchise player tag on him in mid-February.
Briggs threatened to sit out the season, then agent Drew Rosenhaus said his client would sit out the first 10 games and report for the final six to qualify as serving one year as a franchise player.
Meanwhile, the Washington Redskins offered the sixth pick in the draft for Briggs and the Redskins' No. 31 selection.
"We'll digest what they offered Monday and we'll go from there," Angelo said, adding no other team has made an offer.
The Bears would likely have to pay the No. 6 pick a $15 million to $20 million bonus, although they could package the pick in another trade.
Chicago would owe Briggs about $7.2 million next season -- the average of the top five salaries at his position and approximately 10 times what he earned in 2006. But the franchise player tag makes it difficult for Briggs to market himself to other teams.
If he signs an offer sheet, the Bears have the right to match it. Otherwise, they would receive first-round picks in 2007 and 2008.
Briggs made it clear in early March that he was unhappy with the label, when he told ESPN.com and a Chicago radio station the team should remove it or trade him. He has repeated those sentiments in interviews with several national media outlets.
A week later, he told foxsports.com, "I've played my last snap for them. I'll never play another down for Chicago again," and basically said the same thing in an interview with ESPN.
Angelo believes Briggs really feels that way, and that he isn't being put up to it by Rosenhaus.
"When somebody speaks, I have to take it as that's what they feel," Angelo said. "I'm not going to characterize Lance as a puppet."
Angelo met with Briggs at the recent NFL meetings and used words such as "amiable" to describe the session. He also made it clear he wants the linebacker in Chicago next season.
"I wanted him to know exactly what our sentiments were," Angelo said. "It was very amiable, given that neither one is really going to get their way. We have to take the high road, move forward to make this the best we can because it serves everybody to do it this way."
Angelo told Briggs the public attacks on the organization weren't "in anybody's best interests."
If Briggs leaves, Angelo said the Bears would not pocket the money. They would use it to acquire and retain players.
A year ago, Briggs reportedly turned down a six-year, $33 million deal. He said it was for seven years, and was "below market value." Either way, Angelo warned him that the Bears might use the franchise tag.
Chicago spent some of that money earmarked for Briggs on center Olin Kreutz, linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer, running back Adrian Peterson and cornerback Ricky Manning Jr.
Briggs made his second straight Pro Bowl, and the Bears won the NFC championship. Now, he's in a stare-down with management.