The Bears may be going quietly but they are not going without a fight.
While the organization has said nothing publicly about its claims the San Francisco 49ers were guilty of tampering with linebacker Lance Briggs during the 2007 season, the team’s brass is in New York for a meeting with the NFL this morning. President Ted Phillips, general manager Jerry Angelo and contract negotiator Cliff Stein are believed to be meeting with the league on the issue.
The Bears and Niners discussed a deal involving Briggs before the trade deadline in October. It never materialized, but the Bears have claimed San Francisco engaged in contract talks with Briggs and his agent Drew Rosenhaus without their permission. No contract could be done at the time for Briggs, however, because he was bound by the restrictions of the franchise tag he was playing under in 2007. Once the deadline passed for him to sign a multi-year contract in July, he could play for the $7.206 million franchise tag amount and nothing else for the season whether he was traded or not.
The Bears must have believed the alleged discussions between Rosenhaus and the Niners were to lay the groundwork for a deal in free agency. San Francisco didn’t give Briggs so much as a sniff when the market opened back on Feb. 29. The Bears got Briggs to return to them at their price—$36 million over six seasons—as a market for him never materialized.
``There's nothing to it,’’ Niners general manager Scot McCloughan said of the charges when free agency opened on a conference call with Bay Area reporters. ``We have no response because there's nothing to respond to.
``I think it's maneuvering by an organization trying to find the best way to keep their guy. It’s something [the Bears] put out and we have no comment.’’
What’s interesting here is the Bears stand nothing to gain with today’s meeting. If found guilty, San Francisco could be penalized a draft pick. This much is promised—it is certainly going to make for interesting dealings between the two teams moving forward.