NFC NORTH

NFC North: Chicago Bears have yet to decide Brian Urlacher's fate

Posted Feb 21, 2013

Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman and general manager Phil Emery are still in the evaluation stage when it comes to free agent-to-be Brian Urlacher

Phil Emery

One of the big questions heading into free agency for the Chicago Bears is whether defensive mainstay Brian Urlacher will remain with the team for the 2013 season.

Urlacher, 34, would be entering his 14th season with the franchise, but is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in March.

"I want to be a Bear. I want to play for the Bears," Urlacher said in January. "That's my first choice."

The decision to bring back Urlacher isn't cut and dry, though, considering the Bears have a new head coach for the first time since 2004.

Marc Trestman, who coached quarterbacks for the Detroit Lions in 1997, took the job with the Bears' after five seasons as head coach for the CFL's Montreal Alouettes.

Trestman says he and his staff are still in the process of evaluating the entire roster to see which players fit the Bears moving forward.

"That's an ongoing process," said Trestman of Urlacher. "We evaluated our entire football team as much as we can without seeing him work, without having some formal time with him on the field.

"As we move forward through the process, through the process and the Spring, things are going to be resolved."

Urlacher is determined to remain in Chicago, even if it means signing for the "home team discount."

"When you look at my age and everything, it's going to be hard to not give them a discount … I'm not going to make what I was making in the past," Urlacher said on a Chicago radio station.

As is the case with most personnel decisions, the Bears' choice to re-sign Urlacher cannot be made in a bubble.

The Bears used rookie defensive end Shea McClellin in different roles in 2012 and – at 6-3 and 260 pounds – could he become an outside linebacker?

Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery says no.

"Right now he's a D-end and he'll remain a D-end," he said. "We're not going to put an umbrella around him. We're going to use his talents, his athleticism, his speed, his savvy, to the best we can, and whatever our coaches can concoct as far as a plan for him, we'll use every ounce of it.

"Where his versatility is, that's a plus for him. So if he ends being a linebacker in some situations, then good."

Urlacher has had success against the Detroit Lions over his 13-year career, playing in 22 games with 165 total tackles, seven sacks, one forced fumble and 11 passes defensed.

He is considered the heart and soul of that Bears' defense that nearly shut out the Lions in a Monday Night game Week 7 at Soldier Field.

"We look at every player as a unique player," said Emery. "The qualities he brings probably you say when you fill the roster; how many linebackers we have has an impact.

"But right now, where we're at in the process, we're here to look at really good players and see if they fit. That is part of what we do.

"Yes, we're going to look at college players and see how they fit against what we have on our roster and what we could potentially add. And that's same thing that's true with (unrestricted free agents)."