Lance Briggs Contingency Plan?

Lance Briggs is arguably the best weakside linebacker in the NFL and has made the Pro Bowl each of the last two seasons. The Bears recognized his contributions by slapping the franchise tag on him and guaranteeing him a giant pay raise for 2007. That being said, GM Jerry Angelo is keeping his options open and will interview a possible replacement Saturday night at the NFL Combine.

Fans of the Chicago Bears breathed a sigh of relief when the team decided to franchise Lance Briggs on Feb.16. A two-time Pro Bowl linebacker, he has paired with former Defensive Player of the Year Brian Urlacher to form arguably the most destructive linebacker tandem in football. Briggs led the team with 113 solo tackles in 2006 and also intercepted two passes.

But while it appears Briggs will be back next season, his long-term future as a Midway Monster is cloudy at best.

It has been reported that Briggs is very unhappy about being designated as a franchise player despite the fact that he will be guaranteed a one-year deal worth $7.2 million. He is apparently seeking a seven-year, $63.8 million contract with an eight-figure signing bonus. However, the odds of GM Jerry Angelo making that deal are slim to none.

At the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, head coach Lovie Smith said on Thursday that there are a few positions of need on his roster. His Bears enjoyed a fantastic season despite coming up short in Super Bowl XLI, but he still has some holes to fill. And although he did not get into any further detail, it's been widely speculated that the team is looking for help at safety, tight end, and along the offensive line.

Based on what BearReport.com has learned in Indianapolis, it may be time to add linebacker to that list.

KaMichael Hall of Georgia Tech only has one individual team interview lined up on Saturday, but it just happens to be with the Bears.

Brian Bahr/Getty Images

A three-year starter for the Yellow Jackets, Hall led the team with 91 tackles and was an honorable mention all-ACC selection as a senior this past season. He recorded nine tackles-for-loss, four sacks, four pass breakups, and two fumble recoveries. Hall ranks 12th in school history with 31 career tackles for loss and played all three linebacker positions as a collegian.

The scouting report on Hall says that he is a smart player with good pass rush abilities. In terms of measurables, he is just a shade under six feet tall, weighs in at a sturdy 226 pounds, and runs the 40-yard dash in 4.75 seconds. Tom Marino, Scout.com's veteran NFL scout, feels that Hall is undersized and will need to get bigger in order to be an impact player on Sundays.

Comparitively, Hall reminds Marino of Dexter Coakley, who played for the Rams last year and made two Pro Bowls as a member of the Cowboys (1999, 2003).

Hall is projected as a free agent addition and most likely will not be selected in April's NFL Draft, but the Bears obviously see something in him.

Waving goodbye to Briggs after the 2007 season could be devastating with everything he brings to the defense, but even he was a not-so-highly-touted prospect just four years ago. Briggs was originally a third-round pick out of Arizona. Nine linebackers were drafted ahead of him, and none of them have ever made a Pro Bowl.

Angelo has a stellar history of finding defensive gems late in the selection process - Briggs included - and it appears that Hall has piqued his interest.

JC


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