Briggs collects new Bears’ deal
While the Pro Bowl running back is the highest-profile player seeking a contract, the Bears continue to take care of other business, and eventually you have to wonder if the budget and salary-cap room will run out.
Lance Briggs got what he was looking for Wednesday when general manager Phil Emery avoided a potential standoff by coming to terms on a one-year extension that secures the linebacker through 2014 and pays him $7 million in new money.
Briggs told the Tribune last summer he would seek a trade because he had outperformed the $36 million, six-year deal he signed as a free agent in 2008. He has been named to seven consecutive Pro Bowls and had $10.5 million and two years remaining on that front-loaded deal.
“I’m just very appreciative right now that the work has been recognized,” Briggs said.
The new contract gives Briggs more security with what amounts to a virtual guarantee of $8.25 million over the next two years. He can earn $12 million through 2013, and the numbers are manageable for an aging player in 2014.
“The market has not been kind (to linebackers) and the salary cap is tight,” agent Drew Rosenhaus said. “The Bears really stepped up.”
Briggs will be 34 when the contract expires and said he hopes to retire as a Bear. The questions now shift to middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, whose contract expires at the end of this season, and Forte.
“The Bears will do right by (Urlacher),” Briggs said. “He’s coming off a great year and hopefully we can play (together) until we’re 49 years old if that’s possible.”
Briggs, who played under the franchise tag in 2007, is pulling for Forte to cash in.
“He’s a grown man and I’d tell him to do what he feels is right,” Briggs said. “I can’t come in his house and say I’m going to feed his family and neither can you and neither can anybody else. It’s up to him, and it’s his life and his career.
“He knows what his value is and all of us know what his value is. I hope he gets the deal he knows he deserves.”
Briggs says he now can focus on what he believes will be a championship run. The Bears approached Rosenhaus before free agency about this possible deal and since then, Briggs has watched in amazement.
“It feels like a miracle with what they’ve done,” he said. “This offseason has been extremely aggressive, went out and got a bunch of guys who are going to help us win a championship. ... Would I call us the Dream Team? No, I would not. But I would say we’re a championship-caliber team.”
n Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones, the younger brother of UFC light heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones, will visit Halas Hall on Thursday. Jones, considered a potential late first-round pick, was a first team All-Big East pick last season despite missing five games with a knee injury.
n Veteran offensive lineman Adam Goldberg, whose career was launched as an undrafted free agent with the Vikings under Mike Tice, worked out for the Bears. He follows Anthony Herrera, who visited nearly a month ago. A league source said nothing is imminent with Goldberg.