Lance Briggs thought he had a new team—the Washington Redskins.
Shortly after he agreed to terms with his current team, the Chicago Bears, Briggs revealed that he believed that he was D. C. bound.
"I didn't think I was going to be a Chicago Bear. I actually thought I was headed to Washington," Briggs said. "At the last minute, my agent (Drew Rosenhaus) told me we had a deal with the Bears. We talked for a while, and I told him this was the deal that made sense."
The contract that Briggs signed is reported to be for six years and $36 million, with $12 million guaranteed. That latter figure is a far cry from the $20 million in guaranteed money that was supposed to be the starting point for Rosenhaus in his negotiations.
So, if Briggs and the Redskins almost had a deal, did the Redskins' pledge to be smart in free agency really last just about 36 hours?
It depends on how you want to look at it.
If you interpreted "smart" as going after only the middle- and lower-tier free agents then, yes, the Redskins did get lost on the path to enlightenment, NFL style.
If you interpreted the term as meaning the Redskins would only go after players who appeared to be available at prices that are bargains relative to the rest of the market, Snyder and Cerrato did not stray.
Briggs' now ex-teammate, wide receiver Bernard Berrian, got $42 million over six years with $16 million guaranteed from the Vikings. Yes, they play different positions and there tends to be a bit of a premium paid for the "skill" positions. Still, Berrian has never posted a 1,000-yard season and has never sniffed a Pro Bowl invitation. Briggs has gone to Hawaii three straight years.
So, if you can pick up a player of Briggs' caliber for a price tag that contains well under $15 million in guarantees, it could be considered smart business.
Even in this paradigm, though, it may not have been an intelligent move for the Redskins to sign Briggs. The Redskins have a weakside linebacker in Rocky McIntosh and, assuming that he can return from injury, he should have a number of quality years left in him.
Any dollars spent on Lance Briggs would have would have been dollars that the team would not have available to spend on positions of true need.
In the end, however, I don't think that the Redskins were really seriously in pursuit of Briggs. Certainly, it would not be beneath Rosenhaus (or any other agent, for that matter) to use some very mild interest on the part of the Redskins as a ploy to drive up the price for his client.
As Snyder and Rosenhaus have an excellent working relationship, I wouldn't put it past Snyder (or any other owner who wanted to drive up the price of retaining a key player to a conference foe) to throw out a lowball offer just to indicate to the Bears that Briggs had other options.
Still, all's well that ends well. It's the start of day three of free agency and the Redskins still have all of their draft picks and they haven't blown a hole in the cap.
You can only be smart one day at a time.