Lance Briggs, whose 12-year linebacker career made him one of the most renowned defensive players on a Bears franchise known for them, will retire and work for CSN Chicago’s coverage of the team, the station said Wednesday.
Briggs, though, said retirement is not official yet. He wants to play this season, and would be open to a return to the field in the right situation.
“Ahem! I have not filed any papers,” he wrote on Twitter. “I have NOT offically retired. However, I am excited to begin the next phase of my life, and will make an official decision in the coming weeks!!”
As recently as the middle of training camp, the linebacker had hoped to earn an invitation to play somewhere. The Bears told him after last season, when his contract expired after two injury-filled years, that they would not bring him back.
BIG NEWS: @LanceBriggs is joining our @ChicagoBears coverage team! #BearsTalk pic.twitter.com/KaOXaTLdbm— NBC Sports Chicago (@NBCSChicago) September 2, 2015
In 12 years, all with the Bears, Briggs started 170 of of 173 games, with the only outliers in his rookie season. Only four players in franchise history have started more games than Briggs.
He said last year he was at peace with his Bears career coming to an end; during the Bears’ final home game last season, he and Charles Tillman took selfies to commemorate what they assumed was their time on the sideline together.
A groin injury in Week 12 ended Briggs’ season last year and capped a forgettable final two seasons, when medical issues limited him to 17 games. The week leading up to the Bears’ first game last year, Briggs notoriously took a day off to attend the opening of Double Nickel Smokehouse in Northern California.
The Bears selected Briggs out of Arizona in the third round of the 2003 draft. His marriage with teammate Brian Urlacher and coach Lovie Smith, who was hired in 2004, created one of the dominant defenses of the era.
He was named to the Pro Bowl in seven-straight seasons — from 2005-2011 — and was a first-team All-Pro in 2005.
In January, Briggs, one of the league’s top weakside linebackers for years and a career-long Tampa 2 scheme player, said he could play in Vic Fangio’s 3-4 scheme. He called being a free agent unchartered territory, and sounded prepared for a life outside the playing field.
“As much as I don’t know, I’m excited no matter avenue that I go,” he said. “If I get to play football, it’s going to be great. That’s priority No. 1.
“But if I don’t, there’s plenty of avenues for me afterwards. There’s plenty of things that I want to do.”
He will work as a studio analyst on CSN Chicago’s pre- and post-game shows. His “Lance Briggs Show” had aired on the station since 2010.
In a release Wednesday, Briggs said the move “was the right decision for me.”
Seemingly cognizant of the ugly divorce from Urlacher, Bears chairman George McCaskey said in March that we wanted to treat Briggs and Tillman right.
“You want to be properly respectful of their accomplishments and let them know, ‘If it works out, great,’ and if it doesn’t work out that, as far as we’re concerned, they’ll always be Bears,” he said.
Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley