There are quite a few things I don't get about professional sports, on varying levels. One of these is how an agent can impact a contract negotiation so much. A second is the holdout in general, but I guess I get that to some degree. One that I'm sure I'll never get, though, is why Lance Briggs decides now, this week, right this moment is the perfect time to ask for more money or a trade.
Let's think about this for a second, logically. Briggs is a seven year veteran linebacker at/approaching the wrong side of 30 years old, and entering the fourth year of a six-year contract that he signed when, gasp, he felt he was worth more than his contract. He picks the last week of preseason, just a few days before regular season game prep begins, to announce he's asking for a trade and/or more cash. Follow me past the jump and I'll explain how I think this is wrong on quite a few levels...
Let me be frank for a second before I get all ranty - I hate holdouts, contract renegotiations, et cetera. I understand they're a necessary evil, the system doesn't necessarily work without them, but that doesn't give me any reason to not dislike them. As far as I'm concerned, if you, a professional athlete, sign a contract, you agreed to the terms and found them acceptable. Part of the reason I like hockey contracts and being able to extend only in the last season.
But I ramble, and that's beside the point here. Let's take a look at the Lance situation. Part one, the timing. Consider that after cuts are finalized today (something Lance really doesn't have to worry about), game prep for the Falcons starts straightaway on Monday. Does that look good to his teammates?
Part two, more timing. It's the fourth year of his six year deal, a deal that was heavily front loaded. Per Rotoworld...
3/1/2008: Signed a six-year, $36 million contract. The deal contains $13 million guaranteed, including a $4 million signing bonus, a $3.75 million roster bonus in the first year, a $4.75 million roster bonus in the second, and a $3.3 million roster bonus in the third. Annual $250,000 workout bonuses are also available. 2011: $3.65 million, 2012: $3.75 million, 2013: $6.25 million, 2014: Free Agent
There's two things I noticed when I looked this up and posted it in the comments. First, that he's slated to make 3.65 million this season, and that he had three consecutive roster bonuses of at least $3.3 million. Which conveniently ran out this season. So the Bears just got done handing him a $4-million signing bonus, $1-million in workout bonuses, and $11.8 million in roster bonuses, not to mention the about nine million in actual contract. The second thing is that $6.25 million in the final year.
And finally part three - this is the shallowest the linebacker position has ever been since Briggs has been here, bar none. The hope is that the Bears can't afford to lose Briggs so they cave. But this goes back to part one - how does it look to the team that he's taking advantage to pad his own pockets?
So the Bears have $19 million of cap space. So? Not every dollar should go to any player that walks up to Angelo and begs for change. Matt Forte's deal, when finalized, could eat up five to six of that, and Briggs isn't going to settle for another three or so million per year. The last three years he's made between six and eight million dollars per; I can't see anything less than that with hefty frontloaded roster and signing bonuses. I don't like the reports saying he just wants to flip years four and six - what, so he can do this all again next year with two declining years instead of two rising years? The Bears may have cap space, but that doesn't mean all of it is in play.
There's no denying Briggs is a good player - you don't get to be a six-time Pro-Bowler as a scrub in a scheme. But this is just not the right time to pull this crap.