It's a name that has enticed Buffalo Bills fans for over a calendar year. For a Bills team that is in need of playmakers wherever they can find them, fans have continually pleaded the organization to make a move for this linebacker. He has experience in the Cover-2, he's been a key cog on a team that made a trip to the Super Bowl, and he's once again the elite name amongst free agent linebackers.
I speak, of course, of the Chicago Bears' Lance Briggs. The 27-year old veteran has enjoyed four straight 100+ tackles with the Bears, and has developed into a star on one of the quickest, most menacing defenses in the league (up until last season, at least). But just how available is Briggs? When a player this elite becomes available, demand is high. What would it take to get Briggs into a Bills uniform - and is it even a good decision to do that?
Windy City Gridiron's Take
WCG, head blogger at Windy City Gridiron, has been following Briggs' career - and more importantly, his recent tiff with Bears management over his contract - very closely. When I asked him to provide some insight into Briggs' play from 2007 and his free agent status, he graciously obliged - and his responses shed some light into Briggs' future...
After some issues last off-season, how do you think Briggs performed on the field? Did he show any attitude issues toward the organization?
Briggs was all that and more. He was arguably our best defensive player this year. Briggs made some dumb comments while trying to get a new contract, but at no time did he ever disorient his team. Every one of them, to a man, was behind him. He made a deal with management and he honored it and never said a word. I don't think anybody on the team, management or many fans have anything negative to say about Briggs. He has shown himself to be a very good teammate.
Is Briggs as good as advertised, or do you see his production as a product of working with the likes of Tommie Harris and Brian Urlacher?
Going into this season the attitude of most Bears fans was 'screw him and his greedy agent', or 'he is just another product of a good linebacker who became great because he played next to Urlacher', but we have made a 180 on that by year's end. Urlacher was playing hurt for a majority of the year and really wasn't 100% until the last 3-4 games of the season and he showed it. In the meantime, Briggs was the foundation of the defense. He played as well or better than any other linebacker in the league. He is worth every penny of whatever team signs him gives him.
Do you think there's any chance that Briggs returns to Chicago?
Absolutely! I would say looking at the current landscape the chances are better than 50%. Urlacher is getting toward the older years and had some neck surgery in the off season. This might make Briggs' planned successor Jamar Williams a needed backup in the middle. The Bears released Muhsin Muhammad, Fred Miller and Darwin Walker and names like Ricky Manning Jr. and Adam Archuleta are also possible targets. I think a lot of that has to do with re-signing players. They have sent a revised contract offer to Briggs and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus. I think Briggs would like to stay in Chicago, he just wants a contract that he thinks he is worth.
Personally, I don't think there's much discussion to be had here. Clearly, Briggs is a superior NFL talent, plays with great physicality for the Cover-2 defense, and could probably play any linebacker position in that scheme. He is an ideal fit for the Bills. Unfortunately, he's an ideal fit for the Bears, too - and the Bears seem on the verge of re-signing him. If contract talks between the Bears and Briggs break down, then we've got a discussion on our hands. But as it stands right now (and as WCG alluded to), the thought of Briggs being in a Bills uniform may just be a dream.