gateb Posted February 1, 2007 Share Posted February 1, 2007 link Giants: Old friendship may help lure Briggs Thursday, February 01, 2007 BY MIKE GARAFOLO Star-Ledger Staff MIAMI -- Antonio Pierce is at it again. One year after recruiting LaVar Arrington, the Giants' man in the middle is trying to convince another Pro Bowl linebacker to join him in East Rutherford: the Bears' Lance Briggs. It would create an ideal scenario for Pierce -- Arrington, his teammate with the Redskins, on one side with Briggs, his longtime friend and fellow Arizona Wildcat, on the other. Advertisement "I talked to him about that," Briggs said yesterday, four days before the Bears face the Colts in the Super Bowl. "I told him, 'If it doesn't work out in Chicago, maybe.'" Briggs' comments about the Giants came one day after he told reporters he wants to remain with the Bears. "Sometimes you sacrifice some dough to win championships," he said. Pierce could not be reached for comment yesterday, but one Giants defensive player said Pierce has reached out to Briggs on multiple occasions in recent weeks. The player, who requested anonymity because Briggs won't be a free agent until March 2, said Pierce feels the Giants need another playmaker at linebacker. The only question is whether Pierce will get a chance to lure Briggs, 26, to the Giants. The fourth-year veteran leads Chicago with 16 total tackles in the playoffs after recording 130 in the regular season, so the Bears will make a big push to retain him. They also could slap the franchise tag on him by the Feb. 22 deadline. Briggs' agent is Drew Rosenhaus, who also represents Pierce. Rosenhaus could demand a deal more lucrative than the seven-year, $54-million contract (with $18 million guaranteed) the Seahawks gave Julian Peterson last year. Before this season, Briggs turned down an extension reportedly worth more than $30 million over six years. If the Bears don't keep Briggs, the Giants would be a possibility to sign him. They have some wiggle room under the salary cap and will have some more once they dump a few veteran salaries -- one of which figures to be outside linebacker Carlos Emmons, who has been plagued by injuries over the last three years and was ineffective when healthy this past season. Briggs might feel the Giants would be a prime situation to be a playmaker on a Super Bowl contender. He could play the weak side in new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's defense with Arrington remaining on the strong side when he recovers from a torn Achilles' tendon. Plus, there's Briggs' history with Pierce. Arrington put a lot of stock in his relationship with Pierce when he turned down a potentially more lucrative deal with the Packers to sign with the Giants. "That's my guy," Briggs said yesterday when asked about Pierce. "The two guys I've learned this game from more than anybody else player-wise are (Bears middle linebacker) Brian Urlacher and Antonio Pierce. To see Antonio doing what he's doing in New York is great. Advertisement "He goes undrafted -- I don't know why -- but you watched him in college and you (could tell) the guy was a baller. And now, he's doing exactly what he's been doing the whole time." Briggs is a lot like Pierce when it comes to taking pride in proving people wrong. In the same way Pierce keeps a list of all the linebackers who were drafted in 2001 (and has crossed off the names of players no longer in the league), Briggs has said in the past he can recite all 12 linebackers selected ahead of him in 2003 when the Bears picked him in the third round. Four games into his rookie season, the 6-1, 240-pound Briggs became a starter on the strong side and finished the season with 81 tackles. In 2004, he moved to the weak side and had 126 tackles. Last season, he had 107 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions and nine passes defensed. He returned one of his interceptions for a touchdown -- the third of his career, which was the most for any linebacker over the three-year span. This year, he will be making his second straight trip to the Pro Bowl. And apparently, he's not done improving. "I think Lance has just gotten better every year," Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera said. "And I've said this before -- I really believe the only guy that can slow Lance down is Lance. "He's a young guy who's got to learn and understand the way to do things, the way to make the commitment in terms of being a true professional. He's learning." Rivera believes Briggs would have more than six career interceptions and 3 1/2 sacks in a different scheme than the Bears' Cover 2 defense. "We ask that he and Brian and Hunter (Hillenmeyer) really control the middle, attack the line of scrimmage and make the big hits when we need them. And he's done that," Rivera said. "(Briggs' 11-tackle game in the divisional-round win over) Seattle was a great example of his abilities and just how good he can be." The only question is which uniform he will be wearing when he reaches his full potential. If Pierce had his way, Briggs would be wearing blue. Sweet! Still a pipe dream but better than nothing. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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