Six-time Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs, who missed the final three preseason games with a bruised knee, says he will play in Sunday's season opener.
That's the extent of the good news from Briggs, who wants to be traded if the Bears won't renegotiate his six-year, $36 million contract that has three more years to run. That's unlikely to happen this year, if at all, which means Briggs will have to deal with it, at least for awhile. The timing of his request is questionable at best, coming just before the Bears embark on a season in which they hope to improve on last season, when they fell a game short of the Super Bowl.
"It was necessary," Briggs said. "This wasn't the first time I contacted the Bears. I contacted the Bears after the (2010) season. If the organization says (it's) not willing to talk about my deal now or during the season or at the end of the season or next year, then I know that my days here are numbered."
Only if the Bears decide they are, since they hold all the cards. Briggs is under contract, so he's in no position to demand anything. If the Bears want to play hardball, which they seem inclined toward, they can basically tell Briggs, "You play for us or you don't play."
LB Lance Briggs
That's kind of the point of a contract, but Briggs and his agent Drew Rosenhaus don't seem to understand that, even though Briggs agrees that his was a fair deal when it was signed prior to the 2008 season.
"Since I've signed the deal, have I not lived up to the contract?" Briggs said. "OK, and (I've) continued to do that year in and year out."
Apparently Briggs believes that living up to a contract for half of its duration makes him an honorable man. But it begs the question: If it was a fair deal then, why isn't it a fair deal now?
"If I play at X amount of money, and then this year I'm asked to play for half of that, my play doesn't decrease, right?" Briggs said. "Correct? 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."
One of the options Briggs has suggested is flip-flopping this year's base salary of $3.9 million with his 2013 base salary of $6.5 million, which would give him an extra $2.6 million this year.
--One of the areas where offensive coordinator Mike Martz sees potential for improvement is a deeper and more talented group of wide receivers.
Roy Williams and Devin Hester are listed as the starters, but their backups, Johnny Knox and Earl Bennett finished 1-2 among the Bears' wide receivers in receptions and yardage last season. Undrafted rookie Dane Sanzenbacher and Sam Hurd, an ex-Cowboy like Williams, round out the group.
"We have six, we like (all) of them, and all six can play," Martz said. "(All) of them are going to play, so they'll have plenty of opportunities during the course of the game and during the season. It's a nice feeling to have that many, that's for sure. We didn't have enough last year, so it's a good feeling."
--Depending on how his team does, Lovie Smith joked that he may or may not put a lot of stock into the results of a season opener.
"In years we've won, I've really put a lot into it," Smith said. "I'm pumped up about it. The years we haven't, then it's not that important. "Seriously, I don't think you can put too much (into it). But it does give you an idea of where you are because you really don't know. No team really knows. You can go through the preseason and teams aren't doing what they're going to do in the regular season. You never really know."
-- Publicly, Bears general manager Jerry Angelo has put a hold on the contract extension talks involving running back Matt Forte.
RB Matt Forte
Privately it wouldn't be a surprise if Angelo and Forte's agent Adisa Bakari continue to talk behind the scenes about an extension. Forte finished 10th in the NFL in yards from scrimmage last season (1,616) and averaged a career-best 4.5 yards on 237 carries for 1,069 yards in his third NFL season.
"We've decided that we're just going to focus on the season and that's something we talked about when we went into the negotiations," Angelo said. "We were hopeful, I'm not saying the door is shut, but right now our focus is going to be on the season.
"There was a mutual understanding. We visited a few times. In our last meeting we felt like with the season upon us that right now we want to focus and Matt wants to focus on the season and having the great year that we all expect and know that he will."
-- Even though he was a Pro Bowl selection in each of the past two seasons, Brandon Meriweather wore out his welcome with the Patriots, but now he's looking forward to doing anything he can to help the Bears.
"I expect to come in and do whatever the coach asks me to," said the fifth-year veteran. "If (coach Lovie Smith) comes in and asks me to play all special teams, I expect to do that. I want to come in and contribute any way I can."
Meriweather comes with a reputation for mixing big plays and bad plays and a risk-taking style of play on and off the field that includes big rewards and big mistakes. But Smith prefers to look on the bright side.
"He's just a good football player," the Bears' coach said. "He can hit. He's got excellent ball skills, can change directions; all the things we're looking for in a defensive back. He's got a good pedigree too. Devin Hester, knowing him quite well, said a lot of good things about him. We did research and felt like he was a good fit."
- Fullback Tyler Clutts was signed off the Browns' practice squad to fill out the 53-man roster.
The 6-foot-2, 260-pound Fresno State product has played in the UFL (United Football League), AFL (Arena Football League) and CFL (Canadian Football League). He had 1 catch for 9 yards against the Bears in the preseason finale. "We had a chance to see Tyler up close in our Cleveland game," coach Lovie Smith said. "He did a good job as a fullback and also as a special teams player."
Prior to Clutts' signing, the Bears had no true fullback on the roster after Will Ta'ufo'ou was waived on Tuesday. However, Purdue rookie tight end Kyle Adams has played some snaps there in the preseason. Adams had been listed on the Week One depth chart as the only fullback and also as the No. 3 tight end.
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