Everyone is piling on Lance Briggs today and rightfully so. The BGO team is on Briggs here and here. There is no reason to create a distraction with a foolish trade request just over a week before the start of the regular season. Teams with championship aspirations – and right or wrong that’s how the Bears see themselves – don’t need the sideshow. As a leader of this team, Briggs should know and respect that.
But make no mistake about it – the Bears have brought this on themselves. How so, you ask? Let me take you inside the mind of a serial complainer to see why Briggs thinks he has a chance in the world to get paid or traded.
The Urlacher Precedent
Brian Urlacher went to the organization with years remaining on his deal back in 2008 and the Bears acquiesced and threw the face of the franchise new paper. Here’s Brad Biggs on that deal:
Brian Urlacher didn’t get a new deal in 2008, he got an extension. He was five years through a nine-year contract when the club appeased him with a one-year extension worth $18 million. How was Urlacher’s extension paid out? He was given a $6 million signing bonus. He had $1 million tacked on to existing base pay in the remaining four years on his contract and then 2012 was added on at a total values of $8 million with $500,000 of it available in a workout bonus.
Here is how it broke down:
Urlacher’s one-year extension in 2008
$6 million signing bonus
2008 base pay $3.95 million plus $1 million added in extension
2009 base pay $4.95 million plus $1 million added in extension
2010 base pay $6.15 million plus $1 million added in extension
2011 base pay $7.35 million plus $1 million added in extension
2012 base pay $7.5 million and $500,000 workout bonus
Briggs sees himself on Urlacher’s level and with 6 straight Pro Bowls (something even future Hall of Famer Urlacher can’t boast), he feels like he’s got the right to get a better deal. I said this before when I wrote about Briggs – he and his contract crybaby attitude remind me so much of former Bull Scottie Pippen and his contract squabbles while playing in the shadow of a much more acclaimed teammate. Inferiority complex much?
Drastically Under the Cap
I have to admit I heard this argument on the radio today and thought it was an interesting take. The Bears sit somewhere about $19 million under the salary cap since they basically chose to go dumpster diving instead of going out and spending money on top line free agents. Bears veterans see that big pile of cash and don’t want to miss out on cutting their share of it. They know Matt Forte is going to take a piece of that.
There have already been rumblings about Harris and Garza in line for extensions. Earl Bennett could also be in line for a new deal. If the Bears had spent some of their hefty cap space to bring in a legit wide receiver or some depth for the secondary, maybe there wouldn’t be a mutiny brewing for everyone to get a piece of the pie. Basically, this problem is non-existent if the Bears aren’t so far under the cap in the first place.
Lance Briggs thinks he has some sort of leverage because the Bears don’t have any depth and linebacker. While he doesn’t really have any leverage, he’s right about one thing – there is nothing behind the starters in the Bears linebacking corp. This has come about thanks to years of bad drafts where the Bears were seeking to create some depth. Real organizations have a line of succession in place; the Bears have a checkbook.
Ever since Briggs’ last contract dispute back in 2007, the Bears have been trying to replace him in the draft. Michael Okwo, Joey LaRocque and Marcus Freeman were linebackers the Bears drafted and since parted company with. They had a suitable backup in Jamar Williams, but had to trade him to Carolina to bring back Chris Harris to fix their broken safety position. Now the Bears are anorexic thin at linebacker and Briggs knows damn well they’re not going to trade him, so why not expose that weakness and try to squeeze them for a few extra bucks?
Let me make myself perfectly clear – Lance Briggs is an asshat for pushing for this trade and an even bigger jerk for taking his demands public. Grown ups deal with these things behind closed doors. In a time when record number of people are out of work or can’t pay their mortgage, there is no sympathy out there for a guy getting paid millions to play a game. This is a PR blunder by Briggs and usually razor sharp agent Drew Rosenhaus as fans are rallying against Briggs. Briggs sympathizers argue that anyone has a right to go ask their boss for a raise. Most of us aren’t in the middle of a contract that will pay us $36 million dollars.
My best advice to Briggs is shut up and play football. My advice to the Bears – go get a suitable replacement and send him to freaking Cleveland.
My guy DeCon dropped me a line today and asked – would you send Briggs to the Eagles for Asante Samuel and a 3rd round pick? I’ll turn it around and ask you – would you make that deal? What do you think Briggs’ value on the open market really is? And last, vote in our poll.