Bernstein: Briggs Is Being Silly

By Dan Bernstein- Senior Columnist

(CBS) It seems like Lance Briggs woke up, felt a twinge in his injured knee, flipped the calendar ahead to November to see his 31st birthday circled in red marker, and realized that he probably already has signed away his last chance at big money.

So he snapped into action, publicly demanding a brand new contract before the end of the season. He told the Trib if he doesn’t get what he wants, he’ll insist on a trade.

A sudden awareness of one’s football mortality must make a guy crazy.

One non-holdout holdout has been odd enough, with Matt Forte running hard in exhibition games while he demands new paper. Now Briggs comes forward with his clumsy ultimatum.

Jerry Angelo has a pile of unused salary-cap money for this league-year, and he’ll need to spend most of it to comply with NFL rules, but he needn’t lose much sleep over Briggs right now.

There’s an easy answer, and it’s “no.” Briggs has no real leverage that I can see. He’s free to pull this stunt, and the Bears are allowed to let it play out.

If they make another playoff run this season and avoid any end-of-year angst (you’re well-aware of what I mean – one of those stilted, twitchy, over-lit press conferences of blank stares, dry mouths, conflicting statements, and nebulous authority that comes along every once in a while), Angelo could toss a nominal courtesy bonus to Briggs, stopping short of tearing up a deal that still is set to pay him $16.4 million over the next three years.

If the team tanks, all bets are off anyway. The castle will be under siege by villagers, any number of people could conceivably lose jobs, and public support will be minimal for any player associated with recent disappointment. If Angelo actually wanted to then see what he could get for Briggs, nobody would begrudge him.

It’s also very possible Briggs gets hurt this year, and the whole thing is academic. There are whispers that his current “bruise” may be something more than that, and he’s approaching the age when the minor injuries begin to add up. Should he miss a significant chunk of games, further grandstanding is more useless than it is right now.

What’s more, Briggs and agent Drew Rosenhaus seem to have miscalculated the endgame. So he’ll ask to be traded. To whom? For what?

Even if another team wanted to give up something of value for a player with only a couple good years left, would they then decide to hand over a generous, golden-parachute contract? Doubtful.

In fact, the remaining seasons of control at a decent price might be one of the reasons Angelo could find a taker offering fair compensation in the first place.

He’s not an unrestricted free agent, and I don’t expect the Bears to treat him like one.

Even if he were, I’m not sure what he thinks he could actually get as a guy on the street approaching age 32 next year.

I’ll bet he’s overestimating the number. Briggs is an outside linebacker – one that doesn’t rush the passer. On the weak side of a Tampa-2 base defense, he is a tackling machine, and a damn good one. He makes Pro Bowls and a decent living by executing specific responsibilities that are an ideal match for his current skills.

He signed a $36 million contract six years ago, and he had to know that he could be kicking himself when the market inevitably rose.

That’s what happens. That’s what happened.

Now it’s news, and something that may have been handled privately becomes a storyline conflated with that of Forte, who must be unhappy that Angelo now has more reason to dig in against a new attack from the flank.

With the season opener less than two weeks away, a big blip has appeared on Jerry Angelo’s radar screen.

He can ignore it.

More from Dan Bernstein
  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Player contracts are one-way streets (apart from bonus money) in the Not For Long league. I don’t blame him, but I think Godot will arrive sooner than his new paper.

    • Hanna Hick

      Right on Larry, it never hurts to try, but at 31 this season, aint gonna happen

  • Squinting and Agreeing

    Godot has had a hitch in his giddy-up for years. No new contract for him either.

  • Spoon

    Contracts in the NFL make me urpy…

  • Greg Lloyd

    I love LB.. but this power play won’t end well for him.

  • Go Cubs

    Tough loss by the Cubbies today. But their future still looks bright.

    • Spoon

      The hell does that have to do with Briggs?!

  • tom Sharp

    Good analysis. Briggs has what I call the “Chicago Disease.” Virtually everyone who plays in this town for more than a year or two, star or not, turns out to be a moron! How many truly smart players, coaches can you find here? No Peyton Manning, no Tom Brady, no Derrick Jeter here. We get Hester, Harris, Zembrano, et al. Briggs is just another example of the morons that dominate Chicago sports teams.

    • Tessie From Research

      Like Paul Konerko.

      • Chris in Scottsdale

        Tom- You’re the same person that felt that Zambrano’s idiocy was a byproduct of his nationality, you redneck bastich.

      • Bronzo

        I think we all agree that Briggs has no leverage and should shut up and Play…But the Konerko comment has me scratching my head. for his entire career has played every contract out . and has conducted himself with class and dignity, as well as perform at a very high level.

    • Tessie From Research's Gopher

      @Bronzo: Sarcasm. Come on in! (Thanks, Bill Hicks. Dennis Leary should be so kind.)

      • Bronzo

        Sorry Tessie it”s Monday and I missed that one completely….well played

  • Lovie's Shiny Chin Scar

    Haven’t we seen this before from Briggs? I think it’s more of Rosenhaus pushing this than Briggs. Whatever…..”Jay is our quarterback.”

  • Creighton

    Any team in the win now mode with the right defense would take him, and he could get a few extra million up front in the process.

    Atlanta has 35 year old Peterson and he looks done, plus it’s a Tampa 2 defense.

    Colts have Wheeler, again Briggs would be a big upgrade and again you have the right defense.

    Giants have Boley and again Briggs is an upgrade and again it is a Tampa 2 defense.

    Saints have Scott Shanle, and are desperate for LB help not to mention it’s the right scheme again. Not to mention this seems the place where old Bears go to die of late.

    Vikings would take him in a second and it’s the right defense, just the wrong division.

    Rams would love to have him

    There you go, you wanted to know what teams would take him, could use him, and have the right defense for him. 6 teams 4 contenders and 3 recent super bowl winners.


      Yes to Paul Konerko (from an above post):

      I agree with just about everyone, including Creighton. When Drew Rosenhaus rolled into Bourbonnais that day, I remember thinking “go back from whence ye came!” Most of the players were under contract, and I don’t remember the Bears dealing in bad faith.
      What I don’t remember is how old Briggs was. I could’ve sworn he was 28. 29 and in the prime. 31 isn’t old.
      But, what Lance Briggs could be missing is the goodwill Bears ambassadorship that guys like Thayer and Hampton had–heck even Butler and Waddle. He got playoff paychecks, and could be a new Bears spokesman.

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        You nailed it on Rosenhaus…”go back from whence ye came” which lilely was from under a slimey rock.

    • Chris in Scottsdale

      Just because he fits and a team wants to win now doesn’t mean he’ll get the paper. Rams are at/over the cap. Vikings are at/over the cap. Only one of the teams listed above has $5MM in cap room as of last week. I don’t know what Briggs’ number is, but I can’t imagine that it’s gone down over the years, and I know it was at $6MM+ a few years back.

      I’m kind of indifferent about it. On one hand, I’m a Briggs fan. On the other, it’s usually better to let a player leave a year early than a year late.

      • Creighton

        You forgot roster cuts, teams will be cutting down and some vets will get cut and there will be money, not mention a lot of people think he fits inside in a 3-4.


    And, Briggs could catch Angelo off guard. Oh, there’s evidence. J.A. has made some boo boos.

  • Taco-Lover Tom

    “[O]ne of those stilted, twitchy, over-lit press conferences of blank stares, dry mouths, conflicting statements, and nebulous authority that comes along every once in a while.”

    You’re the absolute best, Bernsie

  • meesohawnee

    “A sudden awareness of one’s football mortality must make a guy crazy” nah.. he was crazy when he walked away from the scene of a dui.

  • Bob Labroscian

    He HAS a contract!! Jeez, $3.6 this yr, $6.0 next, n $6.8? the last. What does he want?He is under contract for 3 years…………if the contract was no good, dont sign it.

  • Sean Connery's Cackle

    The Forte deal I can kinda understand. NFL contracts aren’t guaranteed and this is football, not baseball, one shot to the knee and your career could be done. But Forte hasn’t gotten his first big contract yet. Briggs just signed that deal a few years back AND he tried to see if he could get more elsewhere, and he couldn’t. Now he’s going to cry about it?

  • First and Ten

    Sounds like like he’s had to much BOURBON…A”

  • Mr. Blonde

    The “Waiting for Godot” references get pretty old on this site.

  • mike in davenport

    I think Briggs saw an opportunity in the available cap space and wants to take advantage.

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