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Briggs and Bears Near Deal

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Jul 25, 2007 2:30PM

2007_03_sports_briggs2.jpgRemember when Bears linebacker Lance Briggs threatened to hold out — at least for the first ten games — because he took exception with the Bears tagging him with their "franchise" tag? Briggs was upset that the team's move prevented him from signing a long-term contract elsewhere after he and the Bears were unable to agree on long-term deal. Never mind that the franchise tag also guaranteed he'd make $7.2 million in 2007.

Unable to come to an agreement on a long-term deal over the ensuing months, and unwilling to trade Briggs, the Bears looked to enter training camp on Friday with questions hanging over the team regarding if and when Briggs would play. The anticipated media circus and search to find a capable starter from among a cast of backups and rookies seemed destined to dominate the Bears training camp.

Recent developments, however, indicate that the Briggs situation might not be the distraction many feared. Signs point to Briggs signing his one-year contract and reporting to Bourbonnais — thus avoiding the potential for a long holdout and a resumption of the messy war of words between the Bears and Briggs' camp.

The deal would likely see Briggs receive much of his $7.2 mil up front and a guarantee not to franchise him again in the offseason, thus allowing him to pursue the big contract he thinks he has coming his way. And by getting Briggs on the field from the start of camp, the Bears minimize the distraction and roster uncertainly as they try to return to the Super Bowl while the window of opportunity remains open.

With one of the top concerns crossed off the list, can the Bears now figure out a way to fix Rex Grossman? Or trade for Peyton Manning?

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