Lance Briggs still making noise for a new contract
The most important thing Chicago Bears fans want to know is how healthy is Lance Briggs after sitting out the final three preseason games with a bruised knee?
“Of course,” Briggs said he’s ready to go Sunday when the Bears open the season by hosting the Atlanta Falcons at Soldier Field. No problem.
But Briggs’ lingering contract demands remain a problem, at least for him. He’s halfway through a $36 million, six-year contract he received as an unrestricted free agent in 2008. The deal was frontloaded -- $22 million was set up in the first three seasons – and now that the roster bonuses have stop coming in, he wants more money.
Briggs has formally asked the Bears for permission to seek a trade. He’s talked about it for two weeks now. He spent Monday (the day Minnesota Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway landed a $40 million, five-year contract) talking about his need for a new deal too. The club continues to more or less ignore Briggs, who has been selected to the last six Pro Bowls.
“This wasn't the first time I contacted the Bears. I contacted the Bears after the season,” Briggs said. “Obviously you have a lockout you can't contact teams during that period of time. If management says that they're not willing to talk about my deal or are willing to deal with my deal now, or during the season or during the end of the season or next year, then I know that my days here are numbered.”
Briggs called the contract “fair” three years ago and says that he’s lived up to his deal since then.
“The main ingredient here based off of my decision here is to get something,” he said. “You know what I mean? Or have management that's willing to even talk. Whether it be, 'Hey, let's deal with it at the end of the year, let's deal with it at the end of the season.' Then I have something to work with. But when the organization or the management says 'We're not talking now, we're not talking ever,' that puts me in a position where I know my days are numbered.
“It's nothing personal. I understand the business. And that's the business side. It's ugly. That's the way it goes. I'm going to go out here and I'm going to play football and as long as I'm a Bear I'm going to give it my all.”
Briggs admitted the timing was difficult. He made public his demands two weeks before the start of the season, creating an unnecessary (to everyone else) distraction just before real games begin.
“I didn't wake up and say I don't like it here I want out,” Briggs said. “I'm not a snap decision type of person. So it was long and thought out. It was, I ran out of options.”
For Briggs, it boils down to his pay dropping this year. The deal included large roster bonuses in the first three seasons. He’s done with those. His base pay is $3.65 million in 2011, $3.75 million in 2012 and $6.25 million in 2013.
“If I play at an X amount of money and then this year I'm asked to play for half of that, my play doesn't decrease, right? Correct?” Briggs said. “So I have every right to go in and ask -- and ask -- for a raise or in this case ask to at least flip the years. I mean, there's nothing wrong with that.
“Nothing wrong with that. From a business side there's nothing wrong with that. Football players don't retire when they're 65 years.”
So that’s where Briggs is. But because he was an unrestricted free agent when the Bears signed him, he was in position to maximize his deal. The Bears aren’t going to budge on this one. Not anytime soon. If Briggs is lucky, maybe the Bears talk about it after the season, but no promises have been extended.
Follow me on Twitter: @BradBiggs
Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune