Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Are The Bears Taunting Briggs?

A lot of folks are familiar with Lance Briggs, unfortunately it is because he was the first player of this NFL off-season to show that he had any balls. Some players like Larry Johnson decide as mini-camp begins that they want more money and may holdout. Briggs let the Bears know well in advance that he wasn't going to appreciate being 'franchised'. He wasn't trying to use deception he just wanted a little respect. The Bears put the 'franchise tag' on him and offered him a 1-year deal worth $7M and change. (The $7M figure is a result of a rule in the collective bargaining agreement where the contract for a 'franchised' player is the average of the top-5 paid players at his position the season before.)

To the fan that hates that pro athletes make a lot of money they say Briggs is a greedy guy for wanting more. The problem is that it is a bit more complicated than a desire for more money. Let's get past the fact that Briggs wants more money and look at his situation. He was a 2nd round draft pick in 2003. Meaning he did not get a huge rookie contract with an insane signing bonus. Briggs had the fortune of being drafted by the Bears who had a great defense. (As an aside, the Bears have had an embarrassingly inept offense primarily caused by horrendous quarterback play in my opinion. However, they will have a great offensive line as evidenced by some off-season coaching changes.) Briggs has played his balls off since being drafted and has been to the last 2 Pro Bowls. Before last season the Bears and Briggs tried to come to an agreement on a contract extension but were unsuccessful. Briggs let his frustrations over being 'franchised' be known but to no avail. He has honored his rookie contract and now wants to take advantage of being a premier outside linebacker. The NFL salary cap increased for this upcoming year so teams had money to spend. As a young, 2-time Pro Bowl linebacker Briggs would have commanded top dollar on the free agent market with a nice signing bonus (Key Point: The only money a player is guaranteed to receive during the contract is the signing bonus).

Again, people claim the guaranteed $7M is enough for Briggs to be happy. Yes, that is true but put yourself in his shoes. You were a 2nd round draft pick, became a Pro Bowler through hard work, honored your rookie contract and became a free agent at just the right time. Instead, a crazy rule allows your team to keep you for 1 more year at a pre-determined salary. The team could show you respect and sign you to a multi-year deal but don't. If I owned a business and instead of making $7M I could guarantee myself $10M I would sure as hell take the $10M. Maybe I'm greedy but I'm not stupid. I'm assuming my business has nothing to do with me wearing pads and a helmet and using my body as a weapon for 50+ plays once a week. Have some of the old-timers of the NFL tell you how that turns out 25 years later.

Then to top this all off word came out yesterday that the Bears have signed a contract extension with cornerback Nathan Vasher (going into his 4th season) and are trying to extend their other starting cornerback Charles Tillman (going into his 5th season). Briggs has said he will never play for the Bears again but it seems more likely he will sit out the first 10 games of the season. If I'm not mistaken he still gets paid by playing in the final 6 games. As far as I'm concerned he should do just that. The Bears have shown him no respect. He has asked to be traded but they have done nothing to get that done. Only the NFL in the year 2007 can hold its players hostage without the players have any recourse. I guess that is what happens when Gene Upshaw is in charge of the NFLPA. (His incompetence deserves a later post on its own.)

In conclusion, the Bears are taunting Briggs by signing other players who still have years to be played on their rookie contracts. He should be sitting out and I commend him. The media and most fans will rip on him for sitting out but in the end he may be the reason the 'franchise tag' rule is abolished. Also, by keeping Grossman behind center the Bears have shown they have no desire to help the defense out. Grossman could have Randy Moss, Jerry Rice and Tony Gonzalez. His high school JV level mechanics and his apparent inability to distinguish between uniform colors will always guarantee horrid numbers.

(Photo from Nam Y. Huh/AP File.)

1 comment:

FellowAlaskanCruiser said...

It is about time somebody stood up for what Lance is doing. He is trying to make a point for all those people in the future that are going to potentially get screwed the same way he is. Hopefully the NFL will realize what a b.s. deal the franchise tag is. I hope you are right. I hope he sits out as long as he can.