Urlacher: Bears’ talk of return ‘lip service’

Brian Urlacher said Thursday that he doesn’t think the Chicago Bears‘ front office was being genuine when it said that it wanted him to re-sign with the team.

The Bears announced Wednesday that they were unable to come to a free-agent deal with Urlacher and were moving on without one of the greatest linebackers in franchise history.

Urlacher told “Mike & Mike In The Morning” on ESPN Radio that he tried to stay out of the negotiations, “but it was hard for me to stay out of that, because it got a little personal there at the end, just because I think I have so much passion for the team. I wanted to be a Bear. I wanted to play here and finish my career here, and I think that’s what kind of made me mad, too.

“The Bears kept saying, ‘We want to make Brian a Bear, retire a Bear. Blah, blah, blah.’ It was all lip service in my mind. They said that, but they never acted on it. It was like they all had a handbook on how to handle the situation they passed out around there.”

Urlacher said the Bears asked him to make an offer, and the Chicago Tribune reported that Urlacher’s original offer was for two years and $11.5 million.

“My first offer I knew I was going to have to come down from,” Urlacher said. “You always make a first offer that’s too high, because you don’t want to start where you want to finish.”

ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported that the Bears made a one-year, $2 million offer. Urlacher made a one-year, $3.5 million counteroffer, according to ESPN’s Ed Werder, who reported Urlacher’s counteroffer included incentives that would have allowed him to make an additional $500,000.

“And then they said, ‘No, you take this offer, or leave it. Take it or leave it,’” Urlacher said. “It was kind of an ultimatum. Either sign this, or leave. That’s the way it was. They never moved off their initial offer.”

Urlacher said he wasn’t sure what to expect, but he wasn’t surprised how things played out.

“Honestly I had a feeling during the whole offseason that something like this would happen,” he said. “I told my agent I said I just don’t think they want me back. Lovie (Smith is) gone, new head coach (in Marc Trestman), new GM (Phil Emery just finished his first season), I just feel like they’re probably not going to want me back. We kind of had little talks going on, had a little hope going but just never really had a solid feeling that I would go back there.”

Urlacher, 34, said while $2 million is a lot of money, he didn’t want to put his body through the rigors of another season for that amount.

“I want to prove I can still play,” he said. “I don’t know if the Bears think I still can or not, which is fine.

“I understand I’m older now. I didn’t have the best season last year. That’s for dang sure. I feel great right now. I didn’t have an offseason last year. I didn’t get to work out. So I want to prove I can still play a little bit.”

Urlacher tore the posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee going for an interception against the Minnesota Vikings in the 2011 season finale. He reportedly underwent several procedures that wiped out his offseason conditioning and almost all of training camp. He admitted last year that his knee would never feel the same and he spent part of the regular season getting back in condition. Despite those challenges, however, Urlacher made 68 tackles in 12 games, forcing two fumbles and returning an interception for a touchdown.

But he suffered a hamstring injury chasing Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson on Dec. 2 and missed the last four games of the regular season.

“The Bears didn’t think I could play here anymore, and that’s fine,” Urlacher said. “But I still feel I can play football, and that’s my job. That’s what I want to do. If I’m out there not helping my team, I shouldn’t be playing. There’s no doubt about that.

“But I played every game for almost three straight years. I missed the last four last year. But I played every game for three years until the last four last year. So it’s not like I’ve been banged up and missed a ton of games. Just some weird injuries last few years. But I want to play football. That’s what I want to do. That’s what I love to do, and it’s fun for me.”

Urlacher said he’s not sure where he’ll play next season, but he is sure he hasn’t thought about retiring.

“Nope. Not one bit,” he said. “I want to play football. I love football. I definitely have a little left in the tank, maybe not a lot, but I have some left. I’d like to get out there and see what exactly I have and if I’m healthy enough to do it.”

Like most players his age who haven’t won a Super Bowl — the Bears lost to the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLI — Urlacher wants to be on a contender.

“I’d like to play for someone who’s going to be a contender,” he said. “I think we’d all like to do that at this point in our careers if we haven’t won the big one yet.

“But not saying it has to be someone like that either, because you never know who’s going to be good every year, unless it’s the Patriots. You don’t know who’s going to be good. Patriots are always good, but beyond that you never know who’s going to have a good season.”

As far as any possibility Urlacher could wind up returning to the Bears, Urlacher said Emery closed that door.

“From what Phil Emery said, they’re moving on, and we’re moving on,” he said. “So they’re going to find a new middle linebacker and I’m going to try to find a new place to work. ”

Bears fans have already expressed to Urlacher where they don’t want to see him next.

“Just walking around, people are like, ‘Don’t go to the Vikings. Don’t go to the Packers,’” he said. “But they were both pretty good last year. And they both made the playoffs.”

This article was originally posted on ESPN.com


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Aaron is an avid sports fan who passionately follows the NFL, NBA and MLB, in addition to NCAA Sports. He is an Arizona State University grad who loves the Dodgers and the Patriots.
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