Brisker's holdout problem Bears must find solution to ASAP
Jul 22, 2022
The Bears have signed 10 of their 11 draft picks, but that one remaining unsigned player looms large with rookies and quarterbacks expected to report to Halas Hall on Saturday in advance of training camp.T
Second-round pick Jaquan Brisker is not expected to arrive with his fellow rookies as he and the Bears continue negotiations on his rookie contract, The Chicago Tribune's Dan Wiederer reported Friday. A source confirmed to NBC Sports Chicago that the two sides remain far apart in negotiations.
At the heart of Brisker's holdout the amount of guaranteed money in the third year of his four-year contract. This will likely become a sticking point with more and more second-round picks.
For comparison, the New England Patriots drafted wide receiver Tyquan Thornton two picks after Brisker, and he received no guaranteed money in the third year of his deal. Phidarian Mathis was drafted one pick before Brisker and received $111K guaranteed in the third year of his contract from the Washington Commanders.
Those are likely to be key numbers in the negotiations between the Bears and Brisker's camp.
In the long run, this is unlikely to be a big deal for the Bears or Brisker. However, it's vital Bears general manager Ryan Poles wraps up the first holdout of his tenure quickly so Brisker doesn't miss too much valuable practice time.
Four years ago, Roquan Smith started a contract holdout in mid-to-late July and missed 15 practices. That missed time undoubtedly stopped Smith from exploding onto the scene earlier in his rookie season.
The Bears are thrilled about Brisker. OTAs and mandatory minicamp were abuzz about the rookie safety's quick progress and how he was the ideal safety to pair with veteran Eddie Jackson.
"He's been really good, really good," head coach Matt Eberflus said after the Bear wrapped up mandatory minicamp. "In fact, I was just talking to [defensive coordinator] Alan Williams about him on the field, and we're just so thrilled with his talent, you know, with his mental makeup and just the person he is and where he is in his development so far up until this point.
"He's picking up the defense," Eberflus said later. "He's picking up the defense, he's communicating with others. He's right on pace there, so we're excited for him."
Any missed practice time could slow Brisker's progress and keep him from being ready to start Week 1 when the San Francisco 49ers visit Soldier Field.
While fellow second-round pick Kyler Gordon didn't participate in mandatory minicamp, likely due to a similar contractual issue, Brisker took part in all three sessions and continued to show a knack for forcing turnovers.
There's a reason everyone in the Bears' organization was over the moon that Brisker fell to them in the second round. He's the perfect hard-hitting, havoc-creating safety to set the tone for Eberflus' defense, and his desire to play in the box should free up Jackson to make plays in the backend.
Brisker needs to do what's best for him. Football is a violent game. Every player should always try to get every dollar possible. He should catch zero criticism for wanting to make sure there is some third-year guaranteed money.
It's a minor issue, but one the Bears need to solve quickly nonetheless.
Last season, the Bears had one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL. Poles and Eberflus focused on fixing the secondary this offseason, drafting Gordon and Brisker in the second round to pair with Jackson and budding star cornerback Jaylon Johnson.
The secondary could be the Bears' best position group this season. But Brisker is a big part of the equation. So it's imperative the Bears get Brisker signed and on the field as soon as possible.