Bears linebacker Lance Briggs is threatening to sit out for the season because he’s upset the team put the franchise tag on him rather than let him become a free agent. There’s not much sympathy among NFL fans for a guy who is set to make a mere $7.2 million. Over to Peter King:
Briggs is directing his anger in the wrong place. He should be angry with the NFLPA for negotiating a system in 1993 that included the right for a team to make him a franchise player and not allow him to test the open market.
This is the system in the NFL. Refusing to comply with it threatens the competitive balance that is what makes the NFL so successful to begin with. That would be like killing the goose that laid those 7.2 million golden eggs in the first place. Briggs needs to suck it up for a year with that paltry salary, and then he can go see what someone is willing to pay a selfish idiot like him. (A similar argument could be made against Eli Manning’s forcing a draft day trade, I’m aware, and I was making it a few years ago.) If Briggs thinks the franchise player system should be scrapped, he should bring it up with Gene Upshaw and advocate for that position the next time the NFL labor deal is renegotiated.
Part of the story is that Briggs wants to be “The Man” and realizes he never will be in Chicago, where Brian Urlacher is firmly entrenched as the alpha linebacker. It’s too bad Briggs isn’t more interested in remaining part of a dominant defense that nearly carried the Bears to a Super Bowl despite awful quarterback play, and it’s not like no one recognizes Briggs’ ability either. The guy was elected to the Pro Bowl, after all, and teams don’t put the “franchise player” tag on guys who are no good. No one would be paying any attention to this story if Briggs couldn’t play.
This all comes back to money and Lance Briggs’ desire for more of it. He’s just making noises in the media now about how he’s got a doomsday machine, hoping he can force the Bears’ hand. We’ll see if he gets his way or if the Bears can break him and get him to show up for training camp. In the mean time, Briggs isn’t exactly winning any support for the stance he’s taken.
UPDATE: Briggs has a web site.