NFC NORTH

NFC North: It's the end of an era in Chicago

Posted Mar 21, 2013

Unable to reach an agreement, linebacker Brian Urlacher and the Chicago Bears have decided to part ways

The Brian Urlacher era in Chicago has come to an end after the two sides could not agree on a new contract.
Brian Urlacher
Brian Urlacher (Photo: AP Images)

"We were unable to reach an agreement with Brian, and both sides have decided to move forward," Bears general manager Phil Emery said in a statement via the Chicago Sun-Times. "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."

Urlacher, 34, was the ninth-overall pick in 2000. He started 180 of the 182 games he played for the Bears and earned a trip to eight Pro Bowls.

The Bears' opponents in the NFC North, particularly the Lions, probably won't shed too many tears today after hearing the news.

In 22 career games vs. the Lions over a 13-year career, Urlacher recorded 165 tackles (7.5 average), 14.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks, three fumble recoveries, defended 11 passes and chipped in both an interception and forced fumble.

The former NFL Defensive Player of the Year had a good run in Chicago, but everything comes to an end and the end of the story was ultimately about money.

"It wasn't even an offer, it was an ultimatum," Urlacher told the Chicago Tribune of the team's reported one-year, $2 million offer from the Bears. "I feel like I'm a decent football player still. It was insulting, somewhat of a slap in the face."

Before Lions fans get all excited about this news, recognize that middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch, 28, is signed through 2016 and the team has said publicly that it wants to take a look at some of their draft picks and players they've developed for their vacant outside linebacker spot.

Around the NFC North:

Praise Brian Urlacher but this was the right move for the Bears Rick Morrissey – Sun-Times

Sad but realistic end for Urlacher Jon Greenberg – ESPNChicago.com

Forte unhappy with new NFL rule change Jeff Dickerson – ESPNChicago.com

McCarthy challenges defense to respond to "black eyes" Rob Demovsky – Press-Gazette

Harris to get opportunity to start at RB for Packers Rob Demovsky – Press-Gazette

Packers' roster needs to develop quickly Tyler Dunne – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Vikings prepping hard for London trip Dan Wiederer – Star Tribune

Players pushed for Vikings to sign Phil Loadholt, coach says Tom Pelissero – 1500ESPN.com