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Lance Briggs wants Bears to redo contract

CHICAGO IL - CIRCA  2010: In this handout image provided by NFL  Lance Briggs Chicago Bears poses for

CHICAGO, IL - CIRCA 2010: In this handout image provided by the NFL, Lance Briggs of the Chicago Bears poses for his 2010 NFL headshot circa 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by NFL via Getty Images)

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Updated: November 4, 2011 12:57PM

Bears coach Lovie Smith was irked when the NFL Network ranked Lance Briggs the 92nd-best player in the league and the 10th-best linebacker.

‘‘One of the biggest injustices I’ve ever seen,’’ Smith said recently.

It might be. But Briggs has one that tops it: He’s also the 20th-highest-paid linebacker in the NFL. And he wants the Bears to consider the very point Smith brought up
regarding the NFL Network’s rankings: ‘‘Are there that many better football players in the NFL than Lance Briggs?’’

Briggs doesn’t think so, and he wants the Bears to put their money where Smith’s mouth is. The Sun-Times has confirmed published reports that Briggs has asked the Bears to renegotiate the six-year, $36 million contract he signed in 2008. He reportedly will ask to be traded if the Bears aren’t willing to redo the deal.

Briggs hinted at the move earlier in training camp when he told the Sun-Times he needs only the respect of his teammates and coaches — and of the front office at
Halas Hall.

‘‘All that matters most to me is you pay a man for his work,’’ he said.

Few Bears in the history of the franchise have held up their end of the bargain like Briggs — with ‘‘bargain’’
being the operative word. Since signing his deal after making three consecutive Pro Bowls, Briggs has had three more Pro Bowl seasons.

Briggs, 30, has three seasons left on his deal, which will pay him $3.65 million this season, $3.75 million in 2012 and $6.25 million in 2013. The New York Jets’ Bart Scott, who signed a six-year, $48 million deal in 2009, will make more than Briggs this season. Scott has been to one Pro Bowl, and that was as an alternate.

While middle linebacker Brian Urlacher is the unquestioned leader of the Bears’ defense, Briggs is considered by many to be equal, if not
superior, to Urlacher in terms of on-field production.

‘‘He’s not second fiddle to anyone as an outside linebacker,’’ Smith said earlier
in the preseason.

The fact that Briggs, a third-round draft pick in 2003, will turn 31 on Nov. 12
and still has three years left on his contract gives the Bears more leverage than they had the last time the sides sat down to negotiate
a deal.

More than likely, all Briggs will get is another reminder that he isn’t Urlacher. The question is how painful that ultimately will be for the 2011 Bears.

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