Bears’ Phil Emery ready to move forward without Urlacher
BY ADAM L. JAHNS Twitter: @AdamJahns April 16, 2013 3:50PM
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Updated: April 16, 2013 11:36PM
Bears general manager Phil Emery wouldn’t exactly say he has shut the door and locked it on linebacker Brian Urlacher returning, saying he’s learned over the years to never use the word ‘‘never.’’
But the Bears are a team looking to move on.
Emery said he has ‘‘absolutely’’ no regrets about how negotiations were handled with Urlacher and his agents in light of derogatory comments the future Hall of Fame linebacker made in interviews afterward.
‘‘It was a very straightforward process,’’ Emery said Tuesday before the Bears’ voluntary minicamp began. ‘‘We had a very honest and open exchange between Brian and his representatives, his agents. There was no lack of clarity. There were no surprises during that period.
‘‘Brian has been a great player. He’s a Hall of Fame player. He’s done great things for the Chicago Bears. It’s been a win-win as far as Brian and the Chicago Bears. That’s been a great happening for the city of Chicago, for our fans, for the Bears. It’s also been good for Brian. We’ve committed more resources to Brian than any Bear in the history of the organization. We were willing to commit more. In the end, we just could not agree what that amount was. It’s no more than that.’’
Urlacher said he was insulted by the Bears’ take-it-or-leave-it offer — a one-year deal that totaled $2 million.
Urlacher remains an unrestricted free agent, while the Bears have signed veterans D.J. Williams and James Anderson to replace him and Nick Roach. They also have hosted a number of linebacker prospects for pre-draft visits.
Defensive tackle Henry Melton described the first day of minicamp as ‘‘different’’ without No. 54 around.
‘‘We don’t really have a choice but to accept it,’’ Melton said. ‘‘That’s how the NFL is. Guys come and go, and you’ve got to make adjustments to it, but it’s definitely different having [Lance] Briggs calling the plays. It was different.’’
New coach Marc Trestman said at the owners meetings in Phoenix that he and his staff wanted Urlacher to return for his 14th season, seeing him as having value on first and second downs. Asked about Urlacher and leadership on Tuesday, Trestman said he’s ‘‘focused on what we’re doing now.’’
‘‘This is Day 1,’’ Trestman said. ‘‘I’m not trying to promote anything or anybody. The circle of life in the NFL, it is what it is. This is a team that’s got some very good veteran guys. I saw the veteran guys doing exactly today what we asked them to do. That’s not easy. Change is not easy, and they’ve been able to look at it differently. They came out today and they showed the team the way by what they did and how they responded to today’s work. That was really evident.
‘‘My focus is just on this team. I don’t have any experience with any other Chicago Bear teams. I was really impressed. My eyes were looking around. The guys that have been to Pro Bowls and the guys who have worked, they were all in today. That was very evident.’’