Franchise interviews for GM position

Just weeks after the firing of GM Phil Emery and Head Coach Marc Trestman after a 5-11 season, the Chicago Bears have made contact with the New Orleans Saint’s Director of Player Personnel, Ryan Pace about the now vacant GM job in the Windy City.  Pace brought high level recommendations with him.

“I’d hate to lose him and yet, he’s ready for a general manager’s job,” Saints GM Mickey Loomis said of Pace at an end-of-season press conference Tuesday. “He’s talented. I would expect to lose him at some point.”

Pace is one of a very crowded field vying for the job Chris Ballard (KC Chiefs Director of Player Personnel), Brian Gain (Texans Director of Player Personnel) and Lake Dawson, the Titans VP of Player Personnel.

Bears fire GM Phil Emery and Head Coach Mark Trestman

After two seasons, most recently the completed 5-11, the Chicago Bears franchise has parted ways with Head Coach Mark Trestman and his boss, GM Phil Emery.

In a prepared statement, Trestman thanked the Bears organization.

“I also want to thank all the coaches and players who gave us everything we asked over the past two years,” he said in the statement. “I have tremendous respect for this organization. Chicago is a special city with great fans. I appreciate the warm support my family and I received.”

Phil Emery also thanked Bears fans and players.

“This job was the opportunity of a lifetime. My only regret is we didn’t win enough games for that opportunity to continue,” he said in part of his statement.

“Thank you to all the Bears fans that have reached out to me the last three years, who have stopped to say hello, have extended their hand in friendship and that I’ve had the opportunity to have a conversation with. Your kindness does a lot more for the soul than people can imagine. To borrow a lyric or a line from Carrie Newcomer: ‘We stand breathless on the clean edge of change.’ So it’s time to change and move forward. Go Bears. Thanks for your time.


Bears Agree to 1-Year Extension With Briggs

The Bears agreed to a one-year contract extension through 2014 with the Pro Bowl linebacker, keeping one of their cornerstone players happy.

“This was by far the least amount of time I’ve ever had with the Bears trying to (negotiate) a contract,” Briggs said on a conference call with reporters Wednesday.

A person familiar with the situation said the new deal basically guarantees about $8 million over the next two years. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the terms were not released.

Briggs, whose six-year, $36 million contract would have expired in 2013, was scheduled to make nearly $4 million next season. Instead, he gets a $3 million bonus up front, along with a $250,000 workout bonus and $3 million in salary.

His salary for 2013 is $4.5 million, with $2 million guaranteed and $4.75 million for 2014. The deal also includes $250,000 workout bonuses in 2013 and 2014, plus roster bonuses of $1 million and $500,000 for those seasons.

“I’m grateful,” Briggs said. “I’m just very appreciative right now that the work has been recognized and that it got handled as fast as it did.”

Agent Drew Rosenhaus met with new general manager Phil Emery and lead contract negotiator Cliff Stein at the combine, and they agreed to table the discussions until the Bears addressed other roster needs. Once they resumed talks, it didn’t take long to reach an agreement.

“It’s a good thing for Lance,” Rosenhaus said. “It’s good for the Bears. It’s nice to see a happy outcome.”

Briggs pushed hard for a new contract at the start of last season, but the Bears wouldn’t budge.

With three years left on a six-year, $36 million contract, general manager Jerry Angelo basically told Briggs at the time to leave him alone when the linebacker asked for permission to seek a trade if he couldn’t get a renegotiated deal before the season. Briggs said he thinks they would have reached an agreement even if Angelo had not been fired following an 8-8 finish.

“There were some times where it was kind of difficult dealing with Jerry. At the end of the year, we had some open talks with Jerry, and he voiced that my contract is something that needs to be addressed,” Briggs said. “It just so happens that he got fired the very next morning.”

Briggs vowed he would never play “another down for Chicago again” after the Bears slapped the franchise-player tag on him for the 2007 season. He wound up accepting a one-year, $7.2 million contract and agreed to that six-year deal in March 2008.

Now, he hopes to finish his career in Chicago.

“My dream is to retire a Bear, and I know that I will retire a Bear,” he said.

Briggs entered select company this past season when he became just the fourth linebacker in franchise history to make seven straight Pro Bowls, joining Hall of Famers Dick Butkus, Bill George and Mike Singletary.

He led the Bears with 147 tackles last year, his eighth straight with 100 or more, and had eight tackles for loss. He also forced two fumbles, broke up three passes and intercepted one.

“We’re very excited for Lance and for the Bears,” Emery said in a statement. “Lance has been a very valuable and productive member of our team. Seven straight Pro Bowls is quite a record of success. This is a very positive step for our team in our efforts to win championships.”

The extension for Briggs is just the latest in a long line of moves since Emery was hired. He addressed the Bears’ biggest need by acquiring Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall in a blockbuster trade with Miami and signed running back Michael Bush to a four-year, $14 million from Oakland to team with the disgruntled Matt Forte in the backfield.

He also signed Jason Campbell to back up quarterback Jay Cutler, brought in special teams star Eric Weems and added cornerbacks Kelvin Hayden and Jonathan Wilhite for depth in the secondary, but there are still some issues to address.

Forte hasn’t signed his $7.74 million franchise tender, and linebacker Brian Urlacher’s contract expires after the upcoming season.

Briggs said he hopes Forte’s situation gets resolved, adding “I want him to be happy.” As for Urlacher?

“I think that the Bears will do right by him,” Briggs said. “He’s coming off a great year, and hopefully, we can play until we’re 49 years old, if that’s possible.”