I’ve been wanting to comment on this story for some time (since March actually), but the St. Pete Times, Orlando Sentinel, and Tampa Tribune made it almost impossible to get a word in with their SUPERB coverage of the Bucs off-season. Without their coverage we might have been stuck discussing training camp jerseys, Gene Deckerhoff, and recent music releases ….. wait. With this off-season I would venture to say that the NFL’s has rivaled that of MLB’s off-season.
On with the story, the Chicago Bears put the franchise tag on LB Lance Briggs immediately after the season ended. Lance Briggs immediately responded by saying he would not play for the Bears ever again:
When a player is franchised, he loses out on the complete freedom that unrestricted free agents enjoy. The franchised player loses the opportunity to represent himself and attempt to receive the highest possible contract for his services he could possibly see. The teams that attempt to sign a Franchised player are automatically forfeiting the rights to (TWO) first round draft picks, plus the franchised players team can match the offer, thus nullifying the entire deal. The problem with this, is that there are only a handful of players in the NFL worth giving up (TWO) first round draft picks for. Unfortunately for Briggs, he doesn’t classify as one of those players. Thus the predicament for Briggs: he came in to the league as a 3rd Round Draft Pick, proved himself, and played for pennies (in Professional Athlete standards). He is now due a spike in income, but the team that gave him his opportunity has robbed Briggs of this opportunity for one more season, a season in which Briggs could blow out his knee and lose all of the potential money he had worked so hard for.
I understand where the team’s rationale comes in to play, because they obviously don’t want to get into a bidding war just yet, BUT its inevitable and the Bears clearly have cap space so why punish the player who busted his butt for you? The gain for the team to me is a lot lower than the potential gain it could have had from signing Briggs and keeping an integral part of your defense in tact. Instead the Bears have rolled the dice and lost. Sure Briggs will probably play next year (he has to performance wise), but he’ll never play for the Bears again. Not only does this sour Lance Briggs from continuing to play for the Bears, this could also deter other free-agents from coming to the bears having witnessed this treatment.
Players aren’t the only personnel privy to this treatment. The Bucs ex-secondary coach in Mike Tomlin also experienced Briggs esque treatment, off-season after off-season, while working for the Bucs:
Why anybody would stop the progression of hard working men is beyond me. Either reward these guys with an increase in salary or allow them to pursue other options.
In related news, Lance Briggs himself has acknowledged that he would like to join the Bucs.
That’s great, but like I’ve said, Lance Briggs is not worth (TWO) first round draft picks and we honestly don’t have room for the man. Briggs plays weak-side linebacker, as does Pro Bowl LB Derrick Brooks and LB Cato June for that matter. Sure Brooks could move to Middle Linebacker thus giving Briggs a starting slot, but he costs a lot of money and Brooks doesn’t need to move, the guy is plenty productive despite whispers of him losing a step. Lance good luck with your situation!!!