Chicago Sun-Times

Briggs' deal has protection for team after 2009

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The Bears have never had issue with the performance Lance Briggs has provided on the field. Ultimately, it’s why general manager Jerry Angelo said at the combine that he did not have a problem investing in the three-time Pro Bowl linebacker long term as a core player after he earned more than $7.2 million last season with the franchise tag.

Briggs has been a model of durability, going through the first four seasons of his career without missing a game before hamstring issues sidelined him for 2 1/2 games in 2007. He’s a perfect fit on the weak side in Lovie Smith’s Tampa Two scheme and after signing him to a $36 million, six-year contract, the Bears view him as a fixture for seasons to come.

But they’ve also protected themselves in the future. Briggs’ $3.3 million roster bonus for 2010—the final roster bonus in the deal—does not come due until June 10 of that year. That’s three months after most roster bonuses are paid at or near the start of the league year in March. What it means is the Bears will be able to decide whether or not they want to stay on the hook for the contract, or if they want to cut ties. The key is they will have time to make that decision after free agency and the draft have taken place.

Briggs is going to be well paid in the first two seasons. He will collect $8.805 million this year and $6.1 million in 2009. But after that, if Angelo decides for whatever reason he doesn’t want to go forward, he can get out of the deal with minimal impact against the salary cap because the contract included a signing bonus of $4 million. The bulk of the bonus money is contained in three roster bonuses totaling $11.8 million. Those first two roster bonuses are payable in March, the first last month, and the next in March 2009.

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19 Comments

I am starting to respect Cliff Stein more and more as I see these deals. He and Angelo are working together very well to not only set the team up for the long haul, but also to protect themselves from a potential "Titan-like" cap purgatory. They can get out from under some of these deals if they aren't panning out, without strapping themselves for 2 years on the cap.

Hopefully Lance will be earning his paycheck, and I have seen nothing to make me think otherwise. But maybe this is also insurance in case Urlacher's back continues to deteriorate, and Lance would have to take over in the middle. This could be the carrot they put in front of him to make him accept the potential short term nature of the deal.

Every time we doubt JA and the front office, we read about something like this, and it makes us all realize that however good we think we might be as de facto GMs, these guys all have those jobs for a reason.....except for Matt Millen...

Angelo & Lovie are offensively clueless!!!

In last year's preseason, Lovie did not play his starters long enough to see what he had! When the OL collapse began the back ups proved to be inadequate! Blaming Benson ignores Lovie & Angelo's gross mismanagement of the offensive line & their backups!

The Bear's have only two proven NFL starters on the OL, the rest are someone's rejects or unproven backups! I don't trust Lovie to improve the situation! Angelo & Lovie's inability to improve the team during the offseason is proof of their ineptness!

Resigning the fragile, frightened, brain cramped Gimp Grossman is proof that Angelo & Lovie are still trainees and that The Bears are not intent on winning! The Bears are intent on making money!

Alex! You make some good points! But you should consider the speed with which the bears o-line collapsed! It went from being one of the top 10 in the league to the bottom 5 in only a few months! I don't think anyone could have predicted that! Also! You might want to think about using a period........or two..

Gee,Alex, how do you really feel? I'm always amazed at how vehemently confident naysayers sound when in fact they have no creentials to make any observations whatsoever. I can agree that the offensive line had problems last year, that was obvious to anyone, credentials notwithstanding. However, oversimplifying the causes makes no sense. Injuries, off years, age, etc. are as much factors as coaching and management issues. Should the problem have been addressed last year? Probably. But second-guessing is always easier in retrospect.

Alex, the Business and Financial magazine ranked Angelo eighth among 98 general managers in the NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball who’ve been on the job for at least three years. Why would anyone take your comments seriously? Perhaps you could explain to us how your vast education and experience is better than the above experts in making a statement that Jerry Angelo is clueless.

I can't really argue that Lovie and Angelo have limitations when it comes to offense, but how reasonable is it to expect them to be experts on both sides of the ball? Lovie is a defensive coach, and has always been a defensive coach, so any knowledge he has of the offense is cursory at best. Jerry learned under Rich McKay and others in Tampa, who did what? Build their team around a dominant defense, and just enough offense to win games. As a general manager, it is Jerry's job to understand all three phases of the game, but there are very few GMs out there who are well-versed on both sides of the ball. Most of them rely on their scouts to tell them what they see, and they make their evaluations based on the person, not the player when they don't know the position well.

Chicago Bears football has always been about hard-nosed defense and running the ball. But the team has not been good at drafting offensive linemen or running backs since the days of Neal Anderson. What does that tell you? Our scouting department doesn't focus on offense when they are on the road. That is a product of Angelo, Gabriel, and the coaching staff's preference of how to build a team. But they are giving it a full dose of attention this year, so we will see if they are capable of finding players who can contribute. If they fail, then by all means we can condemn them for being one-dimensional, but until then, they deserve the benefit of the doubt.

With Briggs still in the fold, and now for the long run, I honestly wonder what is going to be happening with the Face of the Franchise (Urlacher), who is getting rejected by the team for a long-term deal. I honestly beleive that is a slap in the face to a player amongst the elite and to one of the FEW who was born of a team to wish to die a member!!!

Joe if the Bears where set up for the long run it would be a long run of 7-9, cause thats what they did last year and there is a pattern of injury with a lot of this teams players.

Nick I agree about the speedy colapse of the line but you also have to realize the line fell apart do to the GM's neglect of it in the Draft 4/5 of the starters last year and the year before where free agents. In 04-05 the line was bad, then Angelo did a patch job with free agents who where at the ends of there carrer. This would have worked if Angelo had actually drafted some top talent Olinemen but instead he ignored the position, instead focusing on special team type players and defensive players. Ask yourself why would you draft a RB at 4 (Benson who had a lot of question marks) when you had a back who was playing really well for the team. That fourth pick should have been an offensive linemen. Now the Bears are paying the price, it will take 3 years to develop the line and that would be with good draft picks This year, next year and the following year. Olin and Tait will be gone by then and probably only have a couple of years left in them. Tait may be done after this season. The Bears could have had Jammal Brown, instead we got Benson.

Sasho,
The Bears are not slapping Urlacher in the face. I love the guy, one of my favorites, but you cannot renogotiate a contract with four more years on it. The man has chronic back problems and just came off neck surgery. I wouldn't invest anymore money in a guy with those problems. Plus, they have the contracts of Harris and Hester to worry about in the near future. Its Urlacher's own fault that he opted for long-term security back when he could have become a free agent.

It is just so bizarre to see these Angelo and Lovie toadies pile on the board when their gods get criticized. We're now informed that we have to have "credentials" to criticize them. LOL!!!!

Poor Brian Urlacher........BOO HOO.
If he didn't like the long term deal he shouldn't have signed the contract. I wonder if any of the people associated with the NFL have ever heard of ethics. You sign a contract, you live up to it. Or, take a hike. Been a Bears fan for almost 70 years (and a tryout player for about 70 seconds) and while ethics never played much of a part in the leagues values, it seems to be getting more deplorable every year.
There. BAH HUMBUG!

Thomas is impressed and is counting Angelo's financial accomplishments. Yahoo! Yes, Angelo got a big raise toooooo!

Well, Tommie try looking at the offensive line performance then count** the playoff appearances and victories during Angelo's reign! Currently the OL is in shambles with only two (2) bonafide NFL starters. Did you ever hear about successful OL team work that comes from playing together for years!

When you can't sign a very good 3rd string TE, lose a Pro Bowl special teamer & trade your best RB to NYJ, you can increase your financial ranking but that won't get into a playoff game.

Tommie, since you don't watch pro football. What do you do in your free time when you are not playing gopher assistant to Sleepy "Lovie" Smith and the other clueless trainee Angelo??

**Turn on sesame street and look for the Count!!

Big Bob, what that matter you don't like B Lach? How are ethics involved in this at all. Have you ever taken a buisness class? Lets talk ethics how mauch money have the Halas and McCaskey families made off of Players like Urlacher? They have made huge fortunes off these guys backs. What the Average life expectancy of an NFL player? It's 55, 52 for linemen. Average US is 77.6 years. So how much is it worth to give up 22 to 25 years of your life? I don't see Virginia complaining about this guy, why are you. Yes he makes a lot of money, so do a lot of other people. Me when I want a raise or I think I deserve a raise, I go and ask for one. I give the performace based reasons I think I deserve it and usually I would asked to be payed based on performance. He may have a contract but the Bears do not have to honor it, they can cut him the money isn't guranteed. Last I checked he has not missed a single manditory meeting or workout. I wonder how a big strong athletic guy like Urlacher gets an Arthritic back and bad neck at his age. Could it be playing football for the Bears? The man has done nothing but excell for this team, 6x pro bowler, 4x All Pro, 2000 NFL Defensive rookie of the year, 2005 AP NFL defensive player of the year, one of only 5 players to ever recieve both honors, Last Year 123 Tackles, 5 sacks, 5 int's, 12 PD. All with a bad back and Neck. Sounds pretty good to me. How Much did Freeney make last year and how many games did he play in? Nothing wrong with a guy asking for a raise, I think he has earned it and deserves it. He has given me some great memories, and I have seen some of the greatest defensive plays I have ever seen in recent years. Taking over the game in Arizona in O6, his interception in the against Carolina in 05, and reapeatedly stuffing Stephen Davis in 06. Last year playing hurt all season and still putting up great numbers. The onlt knock I ever heared on the guy was he can't shed a blocker, well that happens to be the weakness of the Tampa 2 not him. If he had to DT's who could shut down the middle he wouldn't have a problem as it is giving a 320 pound guard and the RB space to build up a head of steam doesn't help any one. Name a MIC who has preformed better in the Tampa 2. Name one who is even close. All he did was ask for a raise he has not done anything wrong and he has the right to ask for a raise, it's still America last I checked.

According to an article on another paper's web site, the Bears are roughly $16 million under the cap right now. Will it make that big of a difference to add 2 years to Urlacher's deal, with a $5 million bonus? We could get almost that much by trading Ricky Manning Jr. and save a few million in cap space.

You should reward Urlacher for outperforming his contract. He is playing as good or better than he ever has, and keeping both Briggs and Urlacher happy, along with extending Tommie Harris, would go a long way towards locking down a defense that could be dominant for the next 5 years. Then we can build the offense up for the next couple of drafts.

The #1 selling jersey in the NFL, Defensive player of the year candidate every season, a lock for Hawaii annually(except for this past year, when he probably deserved it more than ever), and a team leader....you pay the man his 5 million, and give him a few more years on his deal. The Bears preach signing their own guys, and Alex Brown, Lance Briggs, Desmond Clark, Kyle Orton, Rex Grossman, and hopefully Tommie Harris will all get new money this year, so why not the best player on the team for the better part of the last decade?

Speak it Joe. I cannot believe people got the nerve to complain about a guy who earned a raise and is asking for one. What Rex deserved to still be here but Urlacher doesn't. Or Alex Brown a real good player who deserved more money but no Lach. Who is way better than Brown. He shouldn't have to go to the Bears, they should have gave the man a bonus every year he has played for them.

With this theory and huge understandable fear by the media and fans that Urlacher will not get resigned and if he starts asking for a trade, I honestly wonder if the organization is deliberately testing the fans' patients and fanhood. Urlacher is one of the few players out there right now with a heart bigger than his wallet, in my view. The man has been patient and sacrificial with his money the last few years to be able to get his fellow players back. How does one not respect such an act. I'd rather have a whole-hearted player like Urlacher and (what I've seen so far of Hester) who, by the way, possesses a great amount of skill still and talent, than risk losing him to another team (LIKE THE VIKINGS, FOR EXAMPLE). And from what I see and hear not only from folks here but other Bear fans losing a player like Urlacher will, in my view put some grins on the fans faces. I definately want Harris and no doubt about keeping Hester, but the one who was born a cub and wants to die a Bear certainly deserves the money and respect by the organization. But what do I know, I'm just a dedicated fan agitated with this cheap organization, that is more dedicated to their wallets than their love for the players who give their ALL.

Im going to give my own take on why Urlacher is sitting out.

We all know the team hates to release the extent of an injury. Brian and the Team have said little for us fans to know what the situation is on Urlacher. He still might be recovering from the neck sergury and is resting his back. This might be a copout for the Bears , having Urlacher saying hes sitting out untill a contract is done , but Urlacher is realy resting under a doctors supervision in Arizona. Its a little fishy Urlacher is staying in Arizona where his doctor is.
This is all speculation I havent herd anymore than what you fans have read, I just hope hes at training camp when it starts, if not training at least be with the team.

I don't want the Bears to bow down to Urlacher. Like they say in Russian Tough Sh??ski's. I have lost all repsect for Urlacher. If Scottie No Tippin Pippin got ripped by the fans so should Urlacher. This team needs to resign Tommie. If Urlacher says that he wants to win championships then we need to sign Tommie long term.

Signed

Pain in the neck

You know what Paul, I mentioned that same argument in the most recent blog and didn't read this one but I agree with you. Not too many fans felt that Pippin deserved a new contract because he should have just honored his current one. I love Urlacher but realistically he is on the other side of his career and fans are not preparing for him to leave anytime soon. You even have guys expecting him to be around 5 years from now. But the fact of the matter is that a 30 year old with an arthritic back can't be counted on for even 2 more years. This shows that fans can be one-sided and biased when they want to be. When Brigg was asking for better pay because of security fans tore him apart. Now the face of the organization is underpaid and is hurting and for him they realize that it all can be fleeting. Urlacher had a contract he signed that granted him some semblance of security and showed him that they respected him at that time. He was right up there with the highest paid and he was happy with that. Do athletes want those long term contracts or do they want a series of 3 year contracts so they can get paid more along the way? Somewhere someone felt that a longterm contract was in his best interest. I know he felt it was. Did they secure him a future or did they put off insulting him until now?

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on April 7, 2008 7:06 AM.

Harris offseason priority for Bears was the previous entry in this blog.

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