|Briggs offers no explanation for change of heart|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 29 July 2007 10:28|
The Chicago Bears' Pro Bowl linebacker pulled up to the dining hall at Olivet Nazarene University on his bicycle Sunday afternoon, hopped off and told reporters, ``Love y'all, love y'all.'' Then, he waved and said, ``I miss y'all'' as he walked inside.
He didn't have much to say after lunch, either, other than ``I'm happy to be here'' as he pedaled away.
The defending NFC champions might be happier to have him back.
Upset that the Bears slapped the franchise tag on him, Briggs had threatened to sit out the entire season. Then, he reduced it to 10 games. But the drama ended Wednesday when he agreed to the one-year, $7.2 million franchise tender contract.
``I would have wanted to skip training camp,'' linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer joked. ``I'm glad. I think that's a testament to Lance. He knows how important it is getting back, getting into the groove with your teammates. I was just glad to see it resolved.''
So is linebacker Brian Urlacher.
``I'm excited,'' he said. ``Lance is my buddy he's a great football player. I'm glad all that nonsense off the field is over.''
The drama escalated after the Bears applied the franchise tag.
That label made it difficult for Briggs to market himself to other teams because the Bears would have received two first-round draft picks if they decided not to match an offer he received. Briggs told them to remove the tag or trade him. There were talks with the Washington Redskins, but they went nowhere.
The linebacker also threatened to sit out the entire season in interviews with several media outlets. He then altered his stance, saying he would miss the first 10 games and report for the final six to qualify as serving one year as a franchise player.
Briggs finally agreed to a deal after the team vowed to not apply the franchise tag in 2008 and give the linebacker a $1 million advance, agent Drew Rosenhaus said. Although he didn't get the large, long-term deal he sought, Briggs got a significant raise after earning $721,600 in the final year of his first NFL contract.
A third-round draft pick from Arizona in 2003, Briggs has excelled in the Bears' cover-2 scheme.
He reportedly rejected a six-year, $33 million offer before the 2006 season, then earned his second straight Pro Bowl selection. He finished second on the team with a career-high 176 tackles to help the Bears reach the Super Bowl for the first time in 21 years.
Then, there was turmoil.
Besides the contentious negotiations with Briggs, the team released defensive tackle Tank Johnson after a string of run-ins with the law. Running back Thomas Jones got traded to clear the way for Cedric Benson. Pro Bowl defensive tackle Tommie Harris and safety Mike Brown are coming back from season-ending injuries, and defensive end Alex Brown is competing for a starting spot with Mark Anderson after asking for a trade.
But one major issue was resolved when Briggs ended his holdout.
``It's a tough situation when a player wants one thing and the team wants something else,'' Hillenmeyer said. ``If there's a disagreement there, there's a disagreement there. ... It's in the past.''