Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Coach Joe Gibbs acknowledged yesterday the Washington Redskins have talked to the Chicago Bears about acquiring disgruntled Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs. However, a team source expressed skepticism a deal would be reached.

Last week, Washington vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato said there was “no merit whatsoever” to reports the Redskins were trying to acquire the Bears’ Pro Bowl linebacker. Those reports intensified yesterday with comments from Briggs’ agent, Drew Rosenhaus.

A high-ranking NFL source said the Redskins expressed no interest in Briggs during the teams’ recent extensive trade talks involving safety Adam Archuleta. The Bears sent a sixth-round pick in next month’s draft to the Redskins for Archuleta last week. A trade for Briggs would likely include a swap of first-rounders with Washington’s No. 6 pick going for Chicago’s No. 31.

Reached by telephone at the NFL meetings Arizona, Cerrato declined to comment.

If the Redskins were to engage in talks, the source said, Chicago would be expected to let Briggs and Rosenhaus finalize a new contract before the trade was completed. The Bears used that strategy this month when they dealt running back Thomas Jones to the New York Jets. Rosenhaus and the Redskins have enjoyed a productive relationship, as he represents running back Clinton Portis, receiver Santana Moss and safety Sean Taylor, all important starters.

The Bears offered Briggs a seven-year, $33 million contract last year but talks fizzled. The team placed the franchise tag on Briggs in February, removing him from the free agent market. Briggs will earn $7.2 million with that designation scheduled but has vowed to sit out the season’s first 10 games before returning to play the final six, thus earning him a year of service.

The Redskins’ interest in Briggs would be puzzling because they moved up to draft outside linebacker Rocky McIntosh in the second round last year; they already have highly-paid linebackers in Marcus Washington and the newly acquired London Fletcher; and the team has more pressing needs. And with the sixth overall pick, the Redskins have an opportunity to trade down while acquiring additional first-day selections.

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