Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Lance Briggs to the Pats? It just makes way too much sense

This may be the single most sensical thing I've ever written. Ever. Though admittedly I was tested for "retard" in 5th grade when the reviewers of some writing test I had to take were so frightened by what I wrote that I had to have a special conference about a potential learning disability (a shocking development indeed considering I was in the accelerated learning program at the time). But even to a retard, Briggs to the Pats makes sense. Think about it. The Pats need him and the Bears can afford to get rid of him while getting exactly what they need in return. Intrigued? Read on. Briggs is arguably the best weak-side linebacker in the game. The Pats, while strong up front, are getting long in the tooth in the linebacking core. Currently Rosie Colvin, Adalius Thomas, Tedy Bruschi (maybe?) and Mike "Red Bull and" Vrabel occupy the 4 linebacker spots. The Pats have never really had a stud athlete in the rotation in the Belichick era, unless you consider Andy Katzenmoyer a "stud" (I do not). Most mock drafts show the Pats taking at least one LB in the first round in an effort to fill the void. Briggs is obviously a better fit.

So what would the Pats have to give up to get him? Well, they have the draft picks (two first rounders though I believe the Bears would have to drop the franchise label before trading him and would only get one first rounder and perhaps one of the Pats 3rd round compensatory picks that the Pats will likely pick up prior to the draft) and they have a player that could put the Bears over the top: QB - Matt Cassell. Cassell has been Brady's backup for the last 2 years (and before that was backup to both Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart at USC). Cassell doesn't get the press that backups like Matt Schaub and Damon Huard get, but he's every bit as qualified and younger than both. He's got prototypical QB size (6'4", 225), stems from a Pro system at USC and was groomed in the Pros by Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. That's not a bad pedigree. Cassell would immediately provide a challenge for the starting spot with Grossman and has the brains (won the award for highest GPA among football upperclassmen at USC. That's the football equivalent of joining Mensa) to pick up any system and excel. The question mark for Cassell, obviously, is whether he can produce on the field. He hasn't had a ton of NFL experience but even in the time he's had he's been more consistent than Rexticles.

The biggest problem with the deal would be that the Pats are fairly limited in their cap room now after all of their signings. They have roughly $7 million left under the cap and don't like to push it too close to the limit as they always leave room for weird pre-season or midseason signings (See Caldwell, Seau & Testaverde). Briggs is going to command a hefty price tag and deferring the guaranteed money to later years may not be exactly what he's looking for. It's still very possible to make the deal happen if they could convince some of their guys to restructure deals. Even if no one did restructure, the Pats could get creative--as they often do--and still get him well under the cap. The second biggest problem is that the Bears don't need to trade him. If he doesn't show up, he doesn't get paid and it's not as though the Bears are weak up the middle. Briggs is a unique talent in the NFL. No question. But A.) Briggs is likely bluffing (doth protest too much Lancelot?) and B.) The Bears are in a position wherein losing him and gaining a couple draft picks and a backup QB is probably not incentive enough to set the precedent of allowing a whining player to get what he wants. That just doesn't seem like a "Chicago Bears-esque" thing to do.

So the deal is a 1st rounder, a third rounder and Matt Cassell (hell, we'll throw in the rights to Vinny's half-fro and we'll give Rex the number for Reche's coke dealer) for non-franchised Lance Briggs. It makes sense to me. But then again I'm less than 20 years removed from retard testing.

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