Bears Pro Bowl LB Lance Briggs hints at retirement

Former Bears linebacker Lance Briggs hinted Wednesday that he is close to retiring from the NFL after 12 years in Chicago.

Briggs has yet to file the official paperwork, but expects to make a final decision in the next few weeks.

After fielding minimal interest as a 34-year-old free agent, the seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker will join CSN Chicago as a studio analyst for Bears coverage.

Briggs was still capably stuffing the run in his decline phase, but had lost a step in range and closing speed. More problematic for prospective suitors, he had played in just 17 of 32 games the past two years after missing just four games in his first decade with the Bears.

One of the premier weakside linebackers of his generation, Briggs will finish his career with the fifth-most games and second-most tackles in franchise history.

Along with 2005 Defensive Player of the Year Brian Urlacher, Briggs was the backbone of Lovie Smith's ball-hawking defense that peaked with a Super Bowl XLI appearance.

With all-time great kick returner Devin Hester and a defensive nucleus of Briggs, Urlacher, defensive tackle Tommie Harris, safety Mike Brown and cornerback Charles Tillman, the mid-2000s Bears recaptured the "Monsters of the Midway" persona of dominant Chicago teams of yore.

If not for subpar quarterback play, the Briggs-Urlacher Bears would have pried open a Super Bowl window for a half-decade. Instead, they were vanquished early in the playoffs twice and were bested in Super Bowl XLI when Peyton Manning outplayed Rex Grossman.

Although Urlacher has the stronger Hall of Fame case as a four-time first-team All Pro, Briggs will be worthy of consideration in five years.

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