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Please say no to Lance Briggs

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[editor's note, by Skin Patrol] Updated Blog Roll on this story: Hog Heaven. Running Redskins (who I copied on pretty much all points, apparently. He says it all better than I could, so definitely go read). Windy City Gridiron. AOL Fanhouse. Harry Hog. Tandler.
Oversized Hat Tip to both WCG of Windy City Gridiron and Hogs Haven reader SinceTheBeginning who emailed me the news this morning.

First, the "news" per ESPN:

While a proposal has yet to be formalized, the Washington Redskins will make a trade offer to the Chicago Bears aimed at acquiring two-time Pro Bowl weakside linebacker Lance Briggs, agent Drew Rosenhaus and two league sources told ESPN.com late Monday night.

Washington will propose a swap of first-round draft picks in this year's draft -- the Redskins own the sixth overall selection and Chicago has the 31st choice -- in exchange for Briggs. The potential deal, which is expected to pick up steam on Tuesday morning as the annual NFL meetings continue, would be contingent on the Redskins signing Briggs to a long-term contract.

Windy City Gridiron:
Personally, I am torn.  As much as I would like to see the Bears stick it to Briggs in the end it might be best for all to get him out of here.  The big problem is I don't like the price.  If anything just Briggs for their first, but to throw in our first seems a bit pricey to me.  If first round picks are to be swapped I think the Bears need to pull some more picks out of it.  A nice second and/or third would probably be alright for me.
And, finally, PFT:
Apart from the fact that Bears linebacker Lance Briggs became a star in a pure Tampa 2 scheme that the Redskins don't run, there's another reason why it makes no sense, in our view, for the 'Skins to add Briggs to the team.

With two big-money free agent linebackers -- Marcus Washington and London Fletcher-Baker -- already in the starting lineup, the 'Skins wouldn't be getting the best return on their investment in Washington, Fletcher-Baker, and Briggs.

Why?  Because a defense has three linebackers on the field roughly half of the time.

Let's be clear what Lance Briggs to Washington means, because there's his contract to think about. Here's a guy who has essentially proven that he will throw a tantrum to get the money he wants, which is apparently more than 7.2M a year. Also, per ESPN:
Having failed last spring to consummate a long-term contract with Briggs -- reportedly a seven-year, $33 million deal on which both sides worked for several weeks before the negotiations collapsed-- the Bears invoked the franchise tag last month to keep the four-year veteran off the open market.
So if you're wondering what Briggs costs the Redskins as a player, a good low-end starting place is 7 years at 33M. That's what he wouldn't accept in Chicago.

A swap from 6th->31st is worth 1,000 points on the Draft Pick Value Chart, or the equivalent of the 16th pick in the NFL draft. You are trading the 16th pick in the NFL draft for Lance Briggs.

Why I don't want Lance because of Lance:

  1. Nothing this man has done recently suggests to me that he's the kind of Team-First guy we need. Competing in a Super Bowl isn't good enough. 33M over 7 years isn't good enough. Everything about his scenario indicates that Lance Briggs is the kind of player that cares only about money.
  2. I think he's an outstanding defender, I just don't know to what degree given that he's always played under a great defensive scheme surrounded by very talented players. He's probably neither as good as the salary he's demanding nor as bad as my cynical Redskins gut feels he really is.
  3. Cost. By all indications he's going to demand a huge contract and the ESPN article makes explicit that he's coming here to sign a dream deal: "The potential deal, which is expected to pick up steam on Tuesday morning as the annual NFL meetings continue, would be contingent on the Redskins signing Briggs to a long-term contract." Signing him will put is deeper into Salary Cap grey area than we already are. This isn't earth-shattering, but it does mean additional cuts will be required either this year or in '08 or in '09 or all three. I could justify those cuts if we were at a severe shortage at Outside Linebacker, but we aren't. More on that below.
Why I don't like Lance as a Redskin:
  1. Rocky McIntosh. With Fletcher in the middle and Washington on the strong side, Lance Briggs naturally becomes our starter on the weak side to replace Warrick Holdman from last year. This pushes last year's 2nd round pick (Briggs was a 3rd rounder) Rocky McIntosh into the depth charts, where he can do little but play special teams and fail to develop on this defense... again.
  2. Why this position? There isn't any doubt that the biggest need on the 'Skins currently is on the Defensive Line, specifically a lack of a pass rushing DE. As mentioned, this pushes McIntosh to the depth charts for no good reason. He proved a reliable starter given his performance in the last two weeks of the '06 season. Even if you are concerned about McIntosh, we still have Lemar Marshall who is better suited (given his size) to play OLB anyways. The Linebacking unit is the one piece of the Defense that I am actually remotely confident about.
  3. Eliminates meaningful trade-down draft scenarios, and likely makes it difficult to pick up an impact Defensive Lineman. While I've harped repeatedly that this draft is deeeeep at DE (and it is) it's not so deep that there isn't a noticable difference between the 31st and 6th pick. What the 6th pick affords us more than anything is the opportunity to trade down to the middle of the draft and get additional quality 1st day picks. The 31st pick does nothing for us, in that regard.
  4. What PFT said about three linebackers on the field only 50% of the time. This is an extension of #2, but why on earth would you want to go five starters deep at Linebacker (Washington, Fletcher, Briggs, Marshall, and McIntosh) when only three of those guys see the field at any given time?
Everything about this trade terrifies me. It says the Coaching Staff has no confidence in either McIntosh or Marshall as starting Linebackers. It tells me that nothing about our perceptions of this as a quiet offseason for the Redskins was correct; we were simply waiting for our moment to make a big splash. It tells me that the team still has no interest in preserving draft picks, despite big talk about seriously considering trading down. It suggests that the team is more confident in our front four than reason or empirical evidence could possibly justify.

The only saving grace here is that the main source on the ESPN story is Drew Rosenhaus + "two league sources". We already know that Rosenhaus is a lying liar that lies (and I don't fault him for doing that to help his clients) so perhaps he's leaking rumors to increase value for Briggs. I don't know the league sources, I don't know how they are connected to the Redskins as that wasn't indicated. That's the only consolation I can take from this story: that it is possible this is all a big hoax. I hope it is fraudulent.

I'm sure many fans are excited about the prospect of having Briggs here so I open the floor to anyone willing to make the case in his favor. I apologize for being incapable and unwilling to play Devil's Advocate on behalf of Briggs, I simply cannot see the good that can come out of this deal as it is currently reported by ESPN.