Brian Urlacher expected dis from Bears, says he’ll play in 2013
By SEAN JENSEN firstname.lastname@example.org March 21, 2013 10:13PM
Updated: April 23, 2013 2:37PM
Brian Urlacher doesn’t know what his value is in a depressed market, and he isn’t sure if he’ll get more than the Bears’ one-year deal worth up to $2 million.
He just knows his career isn’t over and that under no circumstance is he not coming back for a 14th NFL season.
Asked if he’d considered the modest contracts for free agents this offseason, Urlacher told the Sun-Times, ‘‘What I factored is what the Bears asked me to do. They talked about me being a great leader, a great locker room guy, but their offer didn’t live up to that. Their offer reflected me hanging out in the locker room and not [playing] any football, like being a coach. That’s a bunch of money, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not what I’m willing to play for the Bears for.’’
The offer consisted of a $500,000 signing bonus, a $500,000 workout bonus and a base salary of $1 million.
Asked if the offer was fair, four NFL general managers and eight other personnel executives, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said it was. One NFC executive said Urlacher deserved more — perhaps up to $3 million because a team generally pays a premium to keep a beloved, homegrown player happy.
‘‘The club could have offered nothing,’’ one general manager said.
Added an NFC personnel executive, ‘‘He’s an aging guy who can’t run. Bold move — and the right move — by [Bears GM Phil] Emery. Better to get rid of a player a year too early than a year too late.’’
Urlacher, 34, insisted he wanted to work with the Bears on a deal, with his agents asking for an opportunity for him to earn more money via incentives or even based on playing time.
‘‘I was open for that,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s fair to both sides. If I don’t play, I shouldn’t get paid.’’
His agents’ final counteroffer was a deal that totaled $3.5 million.
The Bears weren’t interested and issued a statement Wednesday night saying they were unable to reach an agreement and that both sides ‘‘have decided to move forward.’’
Asked if he would consider going back to the Bears if he doesn’t drum up enough interest — or money — elsewhere, Urlacher said, ‘‘It’s closed.’’
‘‘I think their offer is off the table, and after the way they handled it, I don’t know if I want to play for them,’’ he said. ‘‘Who knows? I may play for $2 million for someone else.’’
Urlacher said he wasn’t surprised at how things have unfolded. He told his agents immediately after the season not to initiate contact with the Bears, wanting the team to make the first move. Then, at the NFL Combine, the Bears requested a meeting and asked his agents to make an offer.
They did, proposing a two-year, $11 million deal, but they didn’t hear back for a while.
‘‘I’ve been expecting this for two months,’’ Urlacher said. ‘‘I’m not shocked. It would have been a lot easier if they would have told me after the season, ‘It’s time for us to move on.’
‘‘I think it was just to save face, honestly. They wanted to say, ‘We tried to sign him back, but he didn’t want to be a Bear anymore.’ ’’
Urlacher said his agents have talked to a ‘‘bunch of teams,’’ but he believes he has been hurt because other evaluators expected him to return to the Bears.
‘‘It was hard for anyone to believe I wouldn’t be here [in Chicago],’’ he said. ‘‘But I’m going to play for sure.’’