Last week, Bears general manager Phil Emery said the organization had approached linebacker Brian Urlacher "about coming back" but added that it was "an ongoing process." The former first-round pick spent his entire 14-year career in Chicago but he's now a 34-year-old free agent on the downside of a great career.
Not surprisingly, money -- both from the perspective of the front office and the linebacker -- would play a primary factor in Urlacher's future in Chicago. And by Wednesday, the Bears were ready to move on.
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"We were unable to reach an agreement with Brian and both sides have decided to move forward,” Emery said. "Brian has been an elite player in our league for over a decade. He showed great leadership and helped develop a winning culture over his time with the Bears. We appreciate all he has given our team, on and off the field. Brian will always be welcome as a member of the Bears.
"Over the last 13 years Brian Urlacher has been an outstanding player, teammate, leader and face of our franchise,” Bears Chairman George McCaskey added. "As Bears fans, we have been lucky to have such a humble superstar represent our city. He embodies the same characteristics displayed by the Bears all-time greats who played before him and he will eventually join many of them in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. We thank Brian for all he has given our team and our city. He will always be a part of the Bears family. We wish him the very best.”
The Chicago Tribune's Vaughn McClure spoke with Urlacher Wednesday evening and the linebacker said the Bears gave him a take-it-or-leave-it offer of one year, $2 million.
"It was a ultimatum, not a negotiation,'' Urlacher told McClure. "I wanted to be in Chicago. I wanted to finish here. ... "I wanted to be here. I wanted to be in Chicago. ... Now, that's not possible.''
Earlier this week, two NFL sources told the Chicago Sun-Times' Sean Jensen that the linebacker would be lucky to get -- you guessed it -- a one-year, $2 million deal based on the current market. And while the Bears didn't slam the door shut on Urlacher returning, wherever he ends up, he'll have to take a substantial pay cut to continue his career.
Urlacher told McClure that he has no plans to retire and will explore the possibility of joining one of the team's that had previously expressed interest in his services.