Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

02 Sep 2011

Briggs, Agent Formally Ask Bears for Trade

Per the Chicago Tribune, linebacker Lance Briggs has asked to be traded following a meeting with general manager Jerry Angelo. He's dissatisfied with his contract, which will pay him $3.9 million this year.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 02 Sep 2011

24 comments, Last at 05 Sep 2011, 7:03am by Anonymous21352


by Philly Homer :: Fri, 09/02/2011 - 9:26am

Huh. Is it 2007 or something?

Lance Briggs seems to have had issues with his contract his entire career. I remember a few years ago when he was some hot trade commodity that wound up settling back with the Bears.

It also seems strange how consistently that Jerry Angelo seems to really infuriate players. There are good ways and bad ways to say "you aren't getting paid." Is it possible that Jerry can't help but put things the bad way?

Historic malcontents and historic jerks on a team that played over its head at a historic level last year headed for cliff. It's going to be a fun season for Bears fans.

by Eddo :: Fri, 09/02/2011 - 9:47am

Historic malcontents? Who? Briggs. I mean, OK, I guess I can see that. But who else? Roy Williams isn't so much a malcontent as a prima donna, but he's never really hurt his teams with attitude (just poor play).

If you mean Cutler, please reconsider. Teammates love him. Coaches love him. The only people that don't are the media, because he doesn't give them the sound bites he wants.

by Eddo :: Fri, 09/02/2011 - 9:58am

From a football perspective, this sucks. Briggs is still an excellent linebacker. It will definitely hurt the defense, which is not particularly deep at LB.


Aside from Briggs, I'm not seeing why people are so down on the Bears this year. Were they a true eleven-win team last year? No (more like a nine-win team).

However, the offensive line looks to be much better. Still not a good offensive line, but definitely passable (unlike the last two years).

Cutler has clearly worked on his mechanics and footwork, and it's shown through the preseason. No one can deny he's immensely talented; he's also had one very, very good season under his belt (2008), so it's not like he's a Rex Grossman-level ready-to-collapse-at-any-moment QB.

And the defensive line has looked quite impressive, so far, as well. Peppers is Peppers (why is everybody ignoring just how great he played last year). Idonije is a perfectly cromulent end (who rotates at tackle, too). Toeaina is a good player in the middle, and Okoye looks to be making huge strides under Marinelli.

The secondary isn't a strength (and it is for very few teams these days), so that's a concern.

And while the coaching staff, particularly Lovie Smith, is not the stuff legends are made of, they're probably at or slightly-above league average. Smith took over the trainwreck of a team in 2004, and put up a 5-11 season. Since then, the Bears have not lost double-digit games. Only six other franchises have avoided such fate (PHI, NYG, NE, IND, PIT, SD).

The Bears are not as good as the Packers, nor the Eagles. Probably not as good as the Saints and Falcons, too. But I'm not seeing this collapse that so many seem to predict. Is homerism a factor? Probably a little, but I generally don't think I have a reputation as a homer around here.

I see a team whose absolute floor (key injuries excepted, obviously) is about six wins. And that's if everything that can go wrong does. More likely, this is an eight-to-ten-win team, fighting for a wild card spot.

by bubqr :: Fri, 09/02/2011 - 10:03am

Age on defense, schedule (including improved division), less luck than last year ?

by Eddo :: Fri, 09/02/2011 - 10:09am

Those are indeed concerns, especially the first. There are some nice young players on the defensive line that I hope can offset the age issues.

The schedule issue has no actual bearing on how good the Bears are. It will affect their record, sure, but just because the Bears play a tough schedule doesn't mean they've collapsed as a team.

Less luck, I guess I can buy. They did fact quite a few third-string QBs last year, and there was the Calvin Johnson catch/non-catch fiasco.

Given the latter two, I still see this as about a true nine-win team that might get bumped down to seven, if fortune is not in their favor.

EDIT: Basically, I saw last year's team as a true nine-win team that rode some luck to eleven wins. And in a vacuum, the team looks better this year, so I'm still seeing a true nine-win team.

by Philly Homer :: Fri, 09/02/2011 - 10:16am

Not only did they have fumble luck, regression-likely 3rd down production, and a soft schedule, but they had a lot of injury luck last year. This is an old defense that will sustain injuries (barring another year of miracles) and an offense that is set to underachieve its average status from last year.

6-9 wins is probably the range.

by Eddo :: Fri, 09/02/2011 - 10:25am

"an offense that is set to underachieve its average status from last year"

I can't really argue with the other stuff, but I'd like to see this more expanded. Cutler looks better. He has another year of rapport with the receivers (especially Bennett, who's in my opinion, their best). The line looks a good deal better. Where does the decline come in? Forte? Losing Olsen?

by LT (not verified) :: Fri, 09/02/2011 - 10:40am

The Bears' O-line is pretty awful, they still have bad wide-receivers, they lost their starting Tight End, Daniel Manning is gone, and the huge special teams advantage they've held in year's past will be diminished by the new KO rules. Where has the team gotten better?

by tuluse :: Fri, 09/02/2011 - 11:19am

Well if you were reading Eddo's posts he says they got better on o-line, possibly d-line and receivers.

by LioninAZ (not verified) :: Fri, 09/02/2011 - 5:25pm

But I think it could easily be argued that they did not get better at any of those positions.

They got a new OT in Carimi who may be the cat's meow at some point, but is a rookie now. Expect mistakes. And they lost their best OL man Kreutz. Whether you think Kreutz was declining or not, this is a net lost for 2011. Garza is not the answer at C, and Webb hasn't shown he's the answer at LT.

Receivers? They let their best receiving TE go in Olsen, and are left with mainly untested TEs. Olsen was a lousy blocker, but it remains to be seen if they'll improve on that. Meanwhile, they signed dropasaurus Roy Williams, and seem to be determined to start him in place of Johnny Knox. That seems like another net loss.

On D-line, they lost Harris, picked up rookie Paea, and are going with Toeiana and Melton. This is probably a slight upgrade, but not certain yet.

Finally, they added Barber to take over for Chester Taylor. This is a net addition.

Otherwise, they haven't upgraded their LB depth, their secondary, and the STs will probably take a hit in production except on punt returns.

The Bears look like they're standing still while the rest of the division is getting better around them.

by Eddo :: Fri, 09/02/2011 - 9:20pm

The Bears' best offensive lineman was Olin Kreutz five years ago, and not since then. Losing him now is a net positive.

And anything that keeps Johnny Knox from getting the plurality of targets is fine by me.

by tuluse :: Fri, 09/02/2011 - 10:07pm

They got a new OT in Carimi who may be the cat's meow at some point, but is a rookie now. Expect mistakes.

Did you watch the line last year? It was nothing but mistakes. Even average rookie mistakes would mean less mistakes. Carimi has looked very good in preseason, and I expect him to be an upgrade in every way from Webb last year.

And they lost their best OL man Kreutz.

Again, I disagree. Williams and Garza were better than Kreutz last year. Plus, given the amount of plays where the tackles blocked down while a blitzing came unblocked after Culter, I don't think his veteran savvy was doing anything for the Bears either.

Garza is not the answer at C

Based on what?

and Webb hasn't shown he's the answer at LT.

I doubt he is, but even still there is a good chance he is better than Omiyale last year, even if he isn't I expect Williams improving with age and Carimi inserted into the line up to provide enough positives that they can gameplan around a weak LT.

Receivers? They let their best receiving TE go in Olsen, and are left with mainly untested TEs.

And? This is Mike Martz, TEs are basically 6th linemen. Go look at Olsen's receiving DVOA the past 2 years. He has not been producing. I know he is fast and makes some highlight plays and is exciting, but he is not a very good receiver. I expect the offense to lose nothing with Olsen leaving town.

Meanwhile, they signed dropasaurus Roy Williams, and seem to be determined to start him in place of Johnny Knox. That seems like another net loss.

Well Knox needs to learn how to shield the ball from the defender on a slant route before he should really be a starter. Your point about Roy Williams is well taken, but I'm hoping he drops like 15 passes in the first 2 games and gets benched.

My other point was that Eddo original wrote, and I paraphrased (and I agree) that the receivers might be upgraded. He didn't say for sure. It is a possibility.

On D-line, they lost Harris, picked up rookie Paea, and are going with Toeiana and Melton. This is probably a slight upgrade, but not certain yet.

Tommie Harris is done. Any capable NFL DT is an upgrade. Which is why Anthony Adams and Matt Toeiana were the starters most of last year. At any rate, again I used the word "possibly." This is an area where the Bears might be better.

The Bears look like they're standing still while the rest of the division is getting better around them.

There are always (at least) two ways of seeing things. However, the Lions and Vikings are playing catchup. Even if the Bears stand still, both those teams have to improve enough to catch and surpass the Bears.

by Chip :: Fri, 09/02/2011 - 10:56am

Agree on all of your points. I'd add a few more:

- Henry Melton looks very explosive and could be a difference maker at the 3-technique this year. He has huge upside at 24 yrs old. Incredibly quick first step. Dare I say a poor man's Tommie Harris (pre-2007)?

- Earl Bennett will likely be the leading WR this year, certainly in catches, but also yards / TDs. Knox and Williams will likely split reps, Hester will also rotate, but Earl will see a ton of reps, especially if the line holds up and Martz can spread it out and throw it 600 times this season like he wants. He's clearly the best receiver on the team; Cutler knows it and Martz came around in the off-season.

- Anthony Adams is an upgrade over Matt Toeaina, who is decent role player. He's much more difficult to move the MT who can get steam rolled at times.

- Roy Williams should be cut. He adds little other than being the best downfield blocker on the team. Why not create a roster spot for some developmental UFA in key positions (Sanzenbacher, Nick Reed, Mario Addison)?

by Eddo :: Fri, 09/02/2011 - 11:22am

Agreed on all counts (though I'm a bit higher on Toeaina than you are).

I really hope Reed and Addison make the team. They both have looked good in flashes (Reed in particularly last night, he was living in the Browns' backfield).

I think Sanzenbacher is almost certain to make the team. You don't get that kind of reps with the first-team offense and then get cut. Williams has been a waste, but they won't cut him. They'll go into the season with the following six receivers:
Hurd (Rashied Davis's old role)

by asdf (not verified) :: Fri, 09/02/2011 - 10:36am

For what it's worth, last year the bears beat the Jets, Eagles, Cowboys, Packers(all three games were close), Lions x2 who are all trendy sleeper/Super Bowl teams.

People seem to give those teams the benefit of the doubt that they got better. Apparently the bears did not. Honestly I don't get that. They lost Davis, Olin and Manning. I would say Olin may end up being an improvement. He was living off the player he was not the player he is. Manning played well last year but his biggest contribution was KR's and the bears aren't exactly hurting there.

People say they have a tougher schedule. Really? They played the NFC/AFC east last year. The AFC west is not the AFC East. Denver and the Raiders are.... well Denver and the Raiders. SD is good but seem to always shoot themselves in the foot. I'm not buying KC this year. Then there is the NFC South. I'd be rather shocked if that division produces 3 teams of the caliber they did last year.

The bears may have been a fraud as a NFCC team but they were a 9-10 talent level team last year and you could argue they are vastly better on offense if Cutler plays as well as he's looked in preseason and the OL doesn't get him killed. If either of those failed they are the same team they were last year.... that won 11 games.

I'd put the over under for the bears at 10 wins. Kansas City(at home), Denver, Seattle(at home), Minnesota x2, Carolina(at home) is 6 wins alone. That leaves you needing 4 wins out of GB x 2, Det x2, ATL(at home), NO, TB(neutral site), Philly, Oak, and SD(at home). A split with detroit and GB, a win at oakland and one other game gets you to 10 wins.

by slodan (not verified) :: Fri, 09/02/2011 - 11:11am

Aside from the Jets, I don't think that any of those teams are getting the benefit of the doubt.

* Eagles vastly improved their defense with high-profile free agents. They've got Vick for the whole year.
* Cowboys have Romo coming back, and Roy Williams isn't stealing time from Dez Bryant. Most people would say that they have improved their coaching situation as well.
* Packers were the best team in football and are nearly certain to regress. That will reduce them to being one of the best teams in football. On the other hand, they had several notable offensive injuries (Grant, Finley) last year, which impacted their early schedule.
* Lions further improved their defensive line. Stafford and Best are healthy at least for the time being. I don't see the Lions as being anywhere near the other teams that you list, but I think that they will have a better record than Chicago.

The Bears have also improved as well, but their improvement is not to the same degree. Time will tell; it's going to be a fun year.

by Eddo :: Fri, 09/02/2011 - 11:25am

I think I agree with you, except regarding the Lions. Their offensive line is still not particularly good, and their secondary is still atrocious.

The one team that also seems to be getting the benefit of the doubt is the Vikings, simply for adding McNabb. Now, don't get me wrong, that's definitely a critical improvement at quarterback; however, their offensive line could be historically bad. In fact, any weakness you can point out on the Bears, you can basically point out on the Vikings.

Sub-standard offensive line: check. Inconsistent QB: check. Weak WR corps: check. Key players on defense aging: check.

by Mr Shush :: Sat, 09/03/2011 - 7:22am

Vick has played 16 games in a season once in his entire career. What makes you think the Eagles will have him for the whole year?

They signed Vince Young for a reason.

by RichC (not verified) :: Fri, 09/02/2011 - 2:41pm

This is why you don't give players front loaded contracts. The eagles had issues with this a couple of years ago.

Guys seem to just forget that they got a big bonus at the beginning of the contract.

by tuluse :: Fri, 09/02/2011 - 10:44pm

Greg Gabriel sounds like he takes this personally in his article for NFP.


by Never Surrender (not verified) :: Sat, 09/03/2011 - 8:51am

Anyone want to bet that Briggs has horrific financial management skills and is feeling the pinch — despite the huge existing contract?

It's an all too common story in the NFL.

by akn :: Mon, 09/05/2011 - 4:48am

It's either that or a few more illegitimate children have come out of the woodwork recently. Which is also a too common story in the NFL.

by Anonymous21352 (not verified) :: Mon, 09/05/2011 - 7:03am

Perhaps. He may just see the writing on the wall since he likely won't be around to see the last year of his existing deal at $6.25 mm in 2013. $7.4 mm over the next 2 years is not a ton of money for a LB of his caliber. Methinks that he wants another deal so that he can get another shot at guaranteed money. Would you rather have $7.4 mm nonguaranteed over the next 2 years or $12-15 mm over the next 2 years (with about $7.5-10 mm of that guaranteed)?

When will people realize that NFL contracts aren't worth the paper they're signed on aside from the guaranteed money?

by ChiJeff (not verified) :: Sat, 09/03/2011 - 12:07pm

RE: #21

That was my first thoughts as well.