Lance Briggs made another Pro Bowl in 2011, posting 105 combined tackles and two forced fumbles. He also had one interception.
Briggs has been one of the best defenders on the Bears for his entire nine-year career. He posted a career high 130 combined tackles in 2006 (the year they went to the Super Bowl) and had a career high three interceptions in 2008. He’s never been a pass-rushing linebacker (10.5 total sacks for his career), but he’s a sure tackler and is a perfect compliment to Brian Urlacher.
However, going into 2012, the Bears may want to think about trading their stud linebacker. There are plenty of reasons why they would consider making a move like this, and there are also reasons why they would want to keep him.
Obviously, having a great linebacker on your defense is never a bad thing. Briggs is still an elite defender in the NFL, so the Bears could want to hang on to him because he can still help them contend. The Bears should be vying for a title in 2012, and losing Briggs may not seem like a good idea when defense is a priority in the NFC North.
The Bears could contend in 2012, though, without Briggs. With a good draft and pickups in free agency, the Bears could upgrade a lot of positions and even draft a young linebacker in April. Trading Briggs is not the same as holding up a white flag for the 2012 season. It actually would help the Bears in the long term and, with other moves pending, could help them as early as next year.
Lance Briggs is 31-years-old, and he’s on a Bears team that wants to make their defense younger. Trading away Briggs for draft picks would be a good way to start adding young talent to the defense.
The Bears could trade Briggs to a team like New England or Philadelphia. New England has a great offense but a bad defense, and they made it all the way to the Super Bowl. If they could add talent to their defense they would feel a lot better about a repeat trip to the big game.
The Patriots are also stacked with draft picks so they wouldn’t feel too bad about giving some away to Chicago. Trading Briggs to the Patriots for either a first-round pick (if they’re lucky) or a second and fifth-round pick (just an idea) might be a good option for Chicago.
Philadelphia is a team that might give Chicago a first-round pick for Briggs. Their pick is higher so, again, a first rounder might be unlikely, but Philadelphia really needs help at linebacker and could overpay for Briggs. They might give a second and fourth rounder to the Bears for Briggs, which would be a good deal for Chicago.
Another trade idea the Bears could consider is moving Briggs to Miami. The Bears could try to acquire Brandon Marshall this offseason in hopes that he and Jay Cutler rekindle their old chemistry. Trading Briggs and a fourth rounder to Miami for Marshall is another option the Bears could consider this off season.
A lot of this depends on what the Bears end up doing in free agency this year. They are looking to upgrade their receivers, lineman, defensive end and cornerbacks. Trading Briggs for Marshall or draft picks might make more or less sense after we see what Chicago does in March.
Briggs requested a trade on September 2, 2011 because the Bears refused to restructure his contract that had three years left on it. The Bears didn’t comply, which was probably the right thing to do. However, it may be time to make Briggs happy and trade him away this offseason.
The Bears could trade him for some good picks in the draft or a stud wide receiver in Brandon Marshall. If the Bears could pull this off, they would be a lot better off in the future and could still contend in 2012.
Phil Emery has a lot of decisions to make this offseason. Bears fans should hope he makes the right one with Lance Briggs.