Agent Drew Rosenhaus has filed a formal request to seek a trade on behalf of Lance Briggs, the Bears linebacker told the Tribune.
"The Bears made their decision, now I have to make mine," Briggs said. "It's just how the business works. It's not going to take away from what I do on the field. I'm 100 percent a Bear, until I'm not a Bear anymore."
The six-time Pro Bowl selection recently approached the Bears about a raise, but upper management has not budged. Rosenhaus made the trade request via an email to contract negotiator Cliff Stein.
The Bears had no comment on the issue Thursday, and their stance on the trade request remains unclear. They are about $19.3million below this season's salary cap.
If they were to grant him permission to seek a trade, Briggs and his agent could approach other teams to see if something could be worked out.
Briggs has three years left on his contract and is scheduled to make $3.9 million this season (including bonuses), $4 million in 2012 and $6.5 million in 2013. He signed a six-year, $36 million deal in 2008 after first testing the free-agent market, and the maximum value of the first three years was $21.6 million.
Briggs wants the Bears to restructure his contract in a manner that would increase his salary this season, possibly by flip-flopping the $3.9 million with the $6.5 million in the final year.
Briggs approached the Bears after watching younger, less proven linebackers around the league sign lucrative deals.
In comparison with a pair of top veteran 4-3 outside linebackers -- the Broncos' D.J. Williams and the Jaguars' Daryl Smith -- Briggs, 30, has a point. Williams has a base salary of $4.9million this season with three years left on his deal, while Smith's base is $4.2million with two years remaining. Both players are 29, and neither has been selected to a Pro Bowl.
General manager Jerry Angelo declined to discuss Briggs' request when first approached about the matter Saturday. Briggs was willing to wait until after the season before seeking a trade but changed his mind after meeting with Angelo on Sunday.
"I understand and respect their decision," Briggs said.
Coach Lovie Smith addressed Briggs' contract status earlier this week.
"If a guy has something that he needs to do, then he can deal with it off the field," Smith said. "As far as how I see him, I just see him coming to work every day, like he has done. Lance Briggs has to get ready for the football season, which he has done.
"Who doesn't want a new contract? All of us would want a new contract. But still, you go to work every day and do your job, and that's what he's doing. I have no complaints about him."
Briggs isn't the first veteran linebacker to approach the team about a raise. Brian Urlacher was given a one-year extension three years ago, when he was 30, that included $18million in new money. However, Urlacher was considered a special circumstance as the face of the franchise and continues to perform at a high level.
Briggs has performed at a high level also, leading the team in tackles two of the last three seasons. He is one of four linebackers to be selected to six consecutive Pro Bowls in franchise history, joining Dick Butkus, Bill George and Mike Singletary.
When Briggs had contract issues in 2007, he went public and vowed never to play for the Bears again before signing a one-year, $7.2 million franchise tender. The Bears and 49ers apparently discussed a trade that season. Subsequently, the 49ers were found guilty of tampering with Briggs through Rosenhaus and were penalized with the loss of their fifth-round draft pick and had to swap their third-round spot with the Bears.
The last time Rosenhaus approached the Bears seeking a trade, it resulted in tight end Greg Olsen being shipped to the Panthers for a third-round pick.
Briggs, who is recovering from a knee bruise, said the injury and his contract status are unrelated. He did not play in Thursday night's exhibition finale but vowed to be ready for the regular season.
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