History appears to be on the side of the Bears and Patriots in the Lance Briggs and Asante Samuel situations. Neither team could reach a long-term deal with their franchise-tagged stars before Monday's deadline, so now the players either hold out or play for about $7 million this season. Both teams will be fine either way.
Briggs and Samuel are good players, but partly so because Chicago and New England put players in great position to shine and earn huge contracts. Would these two players really be up for this kind of money if they had ended up on different teams? Briggs, a third-round pick out of Arizona, and Samuel, a fourth-round pick out of Central Florida, were never can't-miss stars. If they end up on new teams down the road I suspect they won't enjoy the same success.
Former Bears linebackers' talent hasn't translated into other systems -- for example, Rosevelt Colvin hasn't been worth the money in New England (which seems to have an uncharacteristic penchant for overpaying LBs) and Warrick Holdman totally fell apart. If Briggs holds out, I wouldn't be surprised if Jamar Williams or third-round pick Michael Okwo quickly developed into a solid contributor at weakside linebacker. When Tommie Harris and the front line are on their game, Chicago's linebackers have the easiest job in the NFL since they don't get blocked often.
As for the Patriots, they enter camp with their usual assortment of journeymen in the defensive backfield and they could move first-round pick Brandon Meriweather over to cornerback as well. Samuel was great last year, but the Colts showed the limits of a shut-down corner in today's NFL by savaging New England's defense in the middle of the field. Overall, the Pats are wise not to tie up a huge chunk of their salary cap at that position. And don't forget, New England has won Super Bowls playing guys off the street at cornerback.
Even though a holdout by either player would garner a lot of headlines in the preseason, it wouldn't significantly affect either team's final record.