Redskins may put together offer for Bears' Briggs
PHOENIX -- While a proposal has yet to be formalized, the Washington Redskins will make a trade offer to the Chicago Bears aimed at acquiring two-time Pro Bowl weakside linebacker Lance Briggs, agent Drew Rosenhaus and two league sources told ESPN.com late Monday night.
Washington will propose a swap of first-round draft picks in this year's draft -- the Redskins own the sixth overall selection and Chicago has the 31st choice -- in exchange for Briggs. The potential deal, which is expected to pick up steam on Tuesday morning as the annual NFL meetings continue, would be contingent on the Redskins signing Briggs to a long-term contract.
Having failed last spring to consummate a long-term contract with Briggs -- reportedly a seven-year, $33 million deal on which both sides worked for several weeks before the negotiations collapsed-- the Bears invoked the franchise tag last month to keep the four-year veteran off the open market.
Briggs, 26, told ESPN.com three weeks ago that he preferred to be traded or have Chicago rescind the franchise tag and make him a free agent rather than return to the Bears. On Monday, Rosenhaus told the Chicago Sun-Times if his client is not dealt and remains under the team's franchise tag, Briggs would sit out the first 10 games, then return for the final six to accrue a played season under league rules.
On Monday afternoon, Briggs arrived at the resort hotel where NFL owners are meeting and met briefly with Bears general manager Jerry Angelo.
"It was good in the sense that we talked man-to-man," Briggs said. "But not much changed [during the meeting]. But it was good, a positive step, in that we both know where each other stands in this thing."
Subsequent to that meeting, Briggs spoke with representatives with a few teams, including the Redskins. The standout linebacker spoke with Washington owner Dan Snyder, coach Joe Gibbs and general manager Vinny Cerrato. At some point in the evening, the Washington brass determined to make a play for Briggs, and there were discussions with Rosenhaus about potential contract parameters.
Rosenhaus, who has struck several deals with Snyder, said later Monday that reaching a contract agreement with the Redskins was "a strong likelihood." But he also acknowledged that Washington still had to formalize a trade proposal and the Bears had to accept.
"But it's a win-win situation," Rosenhaus said. "Chicago only wants to sign Lance to a one-year contract anyway. If they made the trade, they would move up 25 spots in the first round and be able to choose one of the premier players in the draft. And Lance, obviously, would get the long-term deal he wants [from the Redskins]. It's a good resolution for everyone."
By using the franchise marker on Briggs, the Bears ostensibly made him a one-year qualifying offer worth $7.206 million. Briggs has the right to negotiate with any team and to sign an offer sheet. If the Bears decline to match the offer sheet, the team which signed Briggs would have to send Chicago a pair of first-round draft choices as compensation. But such compensation is considered prohibitive, and pretty much precludes an offer sheet.
The kind of trade the Redskins will propose makes more sense for all of the parties involved. There have been rumors for much of the offseason that the Redskins wanted to trade out of the No. 6 slot in the first round. And a deal for Briggs, one of the NFL's top young linebackers, would represent the kind of big splash Snyder likes to make. It would also allow Chicago to get value for Briggs and to rid itself of an unhappy player.
A former University of Arizona standout, Briggs was chosen by the Bears in the third round of the 2003 draft. He earned a starting job as a rookie, emerged by his third season as one of the NFL's top young weakside linebackers, and was chosen for the Pro Bowl in each of the past two seasons.
Even playing in the lengthy shadow of middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, with whom he has become close friends, Briggs is regarded leaguewide as a top defender and playmaker.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com