One of the side effects of the Briggs situation for the last few years is that the Bears have drafted two young linebackers as his potential replacement.
The first of which is Jamar Williams, from Arizona State, who was taken in the fourth round in the 2006 NFL Draft. He has been oft praised by the Bears management and coaching staff.
The second was Michael Okwo, from Stanford, who was taken in the third round of the 2007 NFL Draft. He has been sidelined with injury, so he is still an unknown quantity.
The new contract that Lance Briggs signed contains a 3.3 million dollar roster bonus that isn't due until June 10th of 2010. Roster bonuses are usually given out in March. The push back of the date would allow the Bears to part ways with Briggs before his contract gets too big if they think that Williams or Okwo could take over. They can also see what is available to them in that year's draft or look at Free Agency before having to decide on whether or not to pay Briggs.
Briggs received 3.75 million dollars last month and is due a roster bonus of 4.75 million in the 2009 season. If Briggs play does not stay at the high level he has shown the last few years or he is injured the Bears have set themselves up to have options.
Overall, all this is is savvy contract work. Briggs has shown that he has more interest in money than any loyalty to players or an organization. If Urlacher, due to his back or his age, has a decline in play, in a few years Briggs could come back to the table and ask to renegotiate his deal. The Bears will then have some leverage as Briggs cannot ask for as much being a linebacker pushing 10 years in the league as he could at his current 6 years.