CHICAGO (AP) – Lance Briggs is going to play and not sit. The Chicago Bears Pro Bowl linebacker agreed to a one-year, $7.2 million contract Wednesday as the team’s franchise player.
Unhappy when he was initially given the tag, Briggs had threatened to sit out the season but reached an agreement one day before the Bears are to report to training camp.
The deal came together after the Bears agreed to not put the franchise tag on Briggs in 2008 and give the linebacker a $1 million advance, agent Drew Rosenhaus said.
Rosenhaus called it a “fair tradeoff.”
“There was no reason to hold out at this point. We were able to gain something in terms of not having the franchise next year. That will give Lance an opportunity to have a great season and maximize his position for next year,” Rosenhaus said in a telephone interview.
Briggs, who helped the Bears make the Super Bowl last season for the first time since 1985, is getting the average of the top five salaries at his position.
In 2006, Briggs earned $721,600 in the final season of his first NFL contract after he reportedly rejected a six-year, $33 million offer last spring.
At one point in the offseason Briggs told the Bears to remove the tag or trade him. A potential deal with the Redskins didn’t materialize.
“I’ve played my last snap for them. I’ll never play another down for Chicago again,” Briggs said during the offseason.
Now he will.
The Bears report to training camp Thursday at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, about 60 miles south of Chicago. The first practice is Friday. Rosenhaus said he wasn’t sure if Briggs would make the first practice because the deal was worked out so close to camp and Briggs had some personal items to attend to.
Briggs skipped the team’s offseason workouts and minicamp, but he was still on his teammates’ minds. On the final day of drills this spring as players swapped numbers, teammate Brian Urlacher donned Briggs’ No. 55.
Briggs made the Pro Bowl for a second time last season, recording a career-high 176 tackles with two interceptions and a fumble recovery while starting all 16 games for a third straight season. He had 117 solo tackles.
In March, the Bears tagged Briggs as their franchise player, prompting him to threaten a holdout, at first for the entire season and then for 10 games.
The 6-foot-1, 240-pound Briggs was the team’s third-round draft choice out of Arizona in 2003 and has blossomed in coach Lovie Smith’s version of the Cover 2 defense alongside Urlacher.
“Credit the Bears for being flexible,” said Rosenhaus, who also represents Greg Olsen, the tight end who was Chicago’s first-round draft pick this season.
“Lance is happy. It’s a good outcome for him. … Credit Lance for making the decision to sign and not hold out.”
One day earlier the Bears reached a six-year contract extension with corner back Charles “Peanut” Tillman and last month worked out a five-year extension for corner Nathan Vasher. They’ve also reached contract agreements with all nine of their draft picks.
Bears officials were not immediately available to comment.