Linebacker Lance Briggs wasn’t happy with his prior contract. He now has a new contract. Presumably, he’s happy with his new contract.
In light of the veteran linebacker market, he should be.
Per a league source, Briggs’ new deal pays $17.5 million over three years, $5 million of which is fully guaranteed. (As a practical matter, another $3.25 million is guaranteed, given that it’s highly unlikely the Bears will cut him this year.)
In 2012, Briggs gets $3 million to sign, a $3 million base salary, and a $250,000 workout bonus. That gives him $6.25 million; under his prior deal he would have earned $4 million.
Next year, Briggs is due to receive a $1 million roster bonus in June and a $4.5 million base salary, $2 million of which is fully guaranteed. He also is eligible for a $250,000 workout bonus. It’s a payout of $5.75 million. Under the prior deal, he would have earned $6.5 million in non-guaranteed base salary.
In 2014, Briggs is due to receive a $500,000 roster bonus in June and a non-guaranteed base salary of $4.75 million. He also is eligible to receive a $25,000 workout bonus.
Though the deal doesn’t carry much “new” money over the next two seasons, the $8.25 million in guarantees will go a long way toward alleviating the concerns of a thirtysomething linebacker who is navigating a new regime. Even if the Bears had paid Briggs $4 million in 2012 without squeezing him to take less, the chances of Briggs getting cut in 2013 would have gone up significantly — and then he would have found himself dealing with a linebacker market that is almost as soft as the running back market.
So it’s a win-win for the Bears and Briggs, and it shows that new G.M. Phil Emery is willing to take care of the guys who have been with the team.
The only remaining question is when and if Emery will take care of running back Matt Forte in the way Forte wants to be taken care of.