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Chicago Bears Handling Jones and Briggs Situations Perfectly

Posted by sportsmaven on March 7, 2007

I was reading Steve Rosenbloom’s blog this morning about the Thomas Jones trade and the Lance Briggs franchise issue and the more dissentious opinions I read in the media, the better I feel about the Bears approach with both situations. With Thomas Jones situation, the trade was inevitable when Cedric Benson started getting more carries and confidence in the second half of the Bears season. Benson has guaranteed money, is younger, and produced the same output as Jones with the exception of yards (only because he had half the carries.) The right move was to keep a promise to Jones by moving him. The Bears were not going to sign him to a long term deal. The talent levels are similar, in my opinion, with Benson having more upside (mainly because he is younger and bigger). Thomas Jones is a good back, but the NFL is a league full of good backs with more good backs coming from the college ranks.

Thomas Jones Traded to the Jets

I am actually excited to see if Adrian Peterson can step up and be the second back for the Bears. I think he can, he showed he can on the few drives he had this season (4.1 YPC and 2 TD’s) In the meantime, the Bears moved from the bottom of the second round to the top of the second round, where the talent level is much greater and saved $2.25M for next year’s salary cap to use elsewhere (the savings from Thomas Jones’ contract)

With Lance Briggs, the Bears are managing that to the letter of what the Collective Bargaining Agreement allows and managing to the best interest of the team. Briggs was reportedly offered a 6 year, $33M contract with $16M guaranteed before this season, but he declined with the full knowledge that the Bears have a franchise tag that they can use on him. The Bears indicated as such in those negotiations and followed through when the contract remained unsigned. Briggs’ strategy was to then attack Bears management and making statements that he will not play for the Bears next season, with the net effect of killing any trade hopes the Bears may have had from him this season. The phone at Halas Hall is not as much as ringing for a Lance Briggs trade, according to Brad Biggs article in today’s Chicago Sun-Times:

Briggs lambasted the organization Monday and said he has no desire to return under the franchise tag, which would pay him $7.206 million in 2007 — 10 times his salary from last season. Tough, was the general message Angelo sent back in Briggs’ direction. The Bears can’t actively seek to trade him under the terms of the franchise tag, but they can listen to overtures from other clubs. Angelo said no one has called.

I’m not sure which of the two paths that Briggs pursued is the worst. They are both bad, both incredibly stupid. What Briggs has essentially done with those two actions is GUARANTEE that he will be playing for the franchise salary of $7.2M next season unless he decides to complete the idiot troika of decisions and decides to sit out the 2007 season in protest. (This is a pure example of chasing bad decisions with more bad decisions). Finally, Briggs all about killed himself PR wise with his comments that this is not about money, but respect. It’s as if the fans he’s talking to on the radio are complete blithering idiots (which a lot of fans are) and don’t understand that it’s ALL about the money. If I were Lance Briggs, I would take a lesson from my ex-teammate and fellow Drew Rosenhaus client, Thomas Jones and follow his path. Play the year, play it well. The Bears may franchise you again next season, but may decide not to do that. Then you are free to go. Or you may sign a long term deal with the Bears.

Either way, I believe the Bears handled both situations perfectly, and for what they were. They didn’t panic and didn’t give in and just start spending unwise money (unlike the Atlanta Falcons, who are still a mess 8 years after their Super Bowl loss.)

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