Actually, there has been very little love for Briggs in the Windy City since Super Bowl XLI. The All-Pro weakside linebacker is unhappy about being slapped with the franchise tag despite the fact that he is guaranteed a $7.2 million salary next season, and he and the organization have been unable to come to terms on a long-term contract extension.
Briggs has stated publicly that he will never play for the Monsters of the Midway again, and although the team has said all along that they have no intention of moving him, now it appears that his prophecy may come true.
With the NFL owners meetings in full swing in Phoenix, AZ, it became public on Monday evening that Washington is seriously interested in acquiring Briggs from the Bears. The proposed deal would send Briggs and the 31st selection in next month's draft for the No. 6 overall pick. The Redskins have multiple needs coming off a disappointing 5-11 campaign, so it has been widely speculated that they want to trade out of their current position in the first round.
Not to mention the fact that free-spending owner Daniel Snyder likes to make a big splash every offseason, and landing the two-time Pro-Bowler would certainly create waves.
Bears GM Jerry Angelo has had success trading down and acquiring extra picks in recent drafts, and he's been able to turn many of those lower picks into quality players. Briggs himself was just a third-rounder out of Arizona in 2003, yet he quickly morphed into one of the most productive linebackers in the league. But with Brian Urlacher -- the face of the franchise -- playing right next to him, the organization simply can not afford to commit that much money to two players at the same position.
Briggs met with Angelo in Phoenix on Monday but admitted that they didn't make much progress.
"It was good in the sense that we talked man-to-man," Briggs said. "But not much changed. But it was good -- a positive step -- in that we both know where each other stands in this thing."
Briggs' agent, the infamous Drew Rosenhaus, believes that this deal would be beneficial to both clubs.
"It's a win-win situation," Rosenhaus said. "Chicago only wants to sign Lance to a one-year contract anyway. If they made the trade, they would move up 25 spots in the first round and be able to choose one of the premier players in the draft. And Lance, obviously, would get the long-term deal he wants. It's a good resolution for everyone."
They may have just competed in their first Super Bowl in 21 years, but the Bears have nonetheless had a tumultuous offseason.
Popular defensive coordinator Ron Rivera was jettisoned on Feb. 20 and replaced with the unproven Bob Babich. Head coach Lovie Smith finally agreed to a four-year, $22 million contract extension on Feb. 28, but the organization took some shots in the media for apparently trying to lowball Smith during negotiations. Thomas Jones, the team's leading rusher for three straight seasons and a locker room leader, was traded to the New York Jets on Mar. 5 for minimal compensation.
And did anyone forget already that Tank Johnson is currently behind bars for parole violation?
The Briggs situation, however, has proven to be the biggest distraction.
Should the deal with Washington actually happen, the Bears will move up significantly in the first round and create the kind of positive excitement that fans so desperately need right now. Instead of finding a suitable selection at No. 31, they would then have an opportunity to take one of the preeminent prospects available at No. 6. The team would also remove Briggs' $7.2 million franchise tender off the books, opening up more money to sign such a high draft choice.
If Briggs is indeed shipped to our nation's capital, Angelo will most likely be able to land one of these promising youngsters:
DT, Louisville - 6'2", 305
One of the more intriguing prospects leading up to the draft, Okoye will be the youngest player in history selected -- he's still just 19 years old -- when he hears his name called in April. Smart enough to go to Harvard, he decided to pursue football for the Cardinals and was an absolute terror on the defensive line. He is an explosive player with terrific instincts, and he has a high motor that allows him to make plays from sideline to sideline.
Okoye is the No. 1 defensive tackle available according to Scout.com, and pairing him with two-time Pro-Bowler Tommie Harris -- don't forget the uncertainty surrounding Johnson's future -- could be a lethal combination in the trenches.
S, Louisiana State - 6'2", 205
Another name that is skyrocketing up draft boards across the league, Landry just might be the most NFL-ready defender in the entire draft. A four-year starter with tremendous natural ability, this All-American would have been a first-rounder a year ago but chose to remain in Baton Rouge for his senior season. With the speed to cover in the secondary and the strength to play the run like an extra linebacker, his mental acumen is also off the charts.
The trade for Adam Archuleta makes the depth chart at safety much better, but adding Landry would make cutting the oft-injured Mike Brown more palatable and add a degree of athleticism the position lacked a year ago.
DE, Clemson - 6'5", 260
The Bears' cover-two system mandates consistent pressure from the front four, and Adams is by far the best pass-rusher on the board next month. A two-time All-ACC performer and an All-American this past season, he racked up 10.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss to go along with 6 pass breakups. Lightning quick despite his menacing frame, he needs to work on his effort but has all the physical tools to be a dominant force off the edge.
The Bears appear to be in pretty good shape at defensive end with starters Alex Brown and Adewale Ogunleye along with last year's rookie sensation Mark Anderson, but drafting Adams would make them younger and faster and could mean the end of Ogunleye's tenure in Chicago -- freeing up another $3.9 million in cap space along the way.
|John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and Editor in Chief of BearReport.com. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.|