Bears Officially Tag Lance Briggs

The Bears took the first step toward keeping their star-studded defense intact for 2007 on Friday. Lance Briggs, a two-time Pro Bowl selection at linebacker scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent, was officially named the team's franchise player. Briggs is now guaranteed a one-year contract valued at $7.2 million for next season.

Per the Bears:

The Chicago Bears placed the franchise tag on outside linebacker Lance Briggs today, guaranteeing the fifth-year player the average salary of the five highest-paid NFL players at his position next season.

The franchise tag allows the Bears a chance to match any offer or receive two first-round draft picks from that team as compensation.

Briggs has been named to the Pro Bowl following the last two seasons, including his first career selection as a starter following the 2006 season in which he recorded a career-high 176 tackles to rank second on the team. Starting 61 of 64 career games played, he led the Bears with 117 solo tackles while ranking second with 10 tackles for loss and nine pass break-ups. The consensus first-team All-Pro selection in 2005 was a second-team All-Pro pick in 2006.

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