Brian Urlacher has been one of the most identifiable Chicago Bears players over the past decade, but he and the team are parting ways and it doesn’t seem to be on good terms.
Urlacher, who will be 35 in May, missed the final four games of the regular season with a hamstring injury. He entered the season with medical problems after having knee surgery. With his body appearing to break down, the Bears didn’t want to give their franchise linebacker more than a one-year deal. Urlacher’s agent was seeking $11.5 million for two years, according to the Chicago Tribune. The team supposedly countered with a one year, $2 million take-it-or-leave-it offer.
“It wasn’t even an offer, it was an ultimatum,” Urlacher told the Tribune. “I feel like I’m a decent football player still. It was insulting, somewhat of a slap in the face.
“They came back with the offer and said, ‘This is what it is, take it or leave it. It was, ‘If you want to play for the Bears, you’ll play for this. If not, then you’re not playing for the Bears.’ ”
Urlacher told the Tribune he would have played for $3 million if the team had kept the negotiation ongoing. He feels like the team didn’t want him back, and he wishes they would have made that clear.
“I want to be here,” Urlacher told the Tribune. “I wanted to be in Chicago. I wanted to finish here. Now that’s not possible.”
Urlacher told the Tribune he won’t hold hard feelings toward the organization despite the failed negotiation. Teammate Roberto Garza says Urlacher is a great player and great leader in the locker room, and that he will be missed.
Urlacher, who is an eight-time Pro Bowl linebacker and the 2005 Defensive Player of the Year, has said he does not plan to retire. He reportedly has received interest from the Dallas Cowboys, and we know he has been in contact with the Minnesota Vikings. If he and his agent leaked the Vikings news to try to scare the Bears into giving their best offer, the strategy did not work.
As an aging player Urlacher is unlikely to get a two-year deal, but he still could help a team for one season. His locker room presence and smarts on the field still makes him a valuable player to have, but he’s just not worth paying a ton of money at this point.
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