|Now that the Bears have taken care of Briggs is Forte next? (Getty Images)|
Bears linebacker Lance Briggs has been outspoken when it comes to wanting a new deal. And Wednesday, months after initially making his case, the organization rewarded the 10-year veteran and seven-time Pro Bowler with a one-year extension through 2014. A league source tells PFT that it's effectively a new three-year, $17.5 million contract with $5 million guaranteed.
Briggs, who asked to be traded days before the 2011 season because the Bears chose not to give him the raise he requested, sounded a different tone after inking his new deal.
"I'm grateful. I'm just very appreciative right now that the work has been recognized and that it (the deal) got handled as fast as it did," he said according to CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Gene Chamberlain. Agent Drew Rosenhaus "This is by far the least amount of time I've ever had (in talks) with the Bears," Briggs said.
General manager Phil Emery sounded equally pleased. "This is a very positive step for our team in our efforts to win championships," he said.
As Chamberlain writes, a lot has changed since Emery took over for Jerry Angelo, who was fired January 3 and had a somewhat contentious relationship with Briggs. Despite their differences, the linebacker said that Angelo told him at the end of the season that a new contract needed to be addressed. "It just so happened he got fired the very next morning," Briggs said. "So I didn't know where we'd stand."
With Briggs now in the fold until 2014, perhaps the Bears will turn their energies to signing running back Matt Forte, who remains unhappy with the franchise tag. "He knows what his value is and I think all of us know what his value is," said Briggs, who was tagged in '07. "So he knows what he's doing. I will continue to support (him) and hope that he gets the deal that he knows he deserves and we all do.”
Exacerbating matters: Forte reportedly is only interested in signing a long-term deal, which means that he's willing to leave the one-year, $7.7 million franchise tender on the table. The problem: Forte doesn't have a lot of leverage because a) he's a running back (read our thoughts on the fungibility of RBs here) and b) the team signed Michael Bush to a four-year, $14 million deal several weeks ago, presumably as insurance against Forte taking his sweet time to sign his tender.
Not surprisingly, Forte wasn't happy about any of it. And unless something changes, he probably won't be around the team facility anytime soon.
“The word is that he's not going to be [there], but that's just rumors,” Bears quarterback Jay Cutler said during an appearance on WMVP Radio (by way of the Chicago Sun-Times). “I know it's going to be hard for Matt to not be there. I think he's pretty disappointed at how things have gone. But it's a business for both sides. The Bears have to do what's best for them in the long run. Matt has to do what's best for him in the long run.”
In the short run, we wait for both sides to figure out what's best.
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