The Chicago Bears and Brian Urlacher have parted ways permanently. After 13 years as the face of the organization, Urlacher will never again don the Navy and orange. After the news was made public, Urlacher went on Sirius XM NFL Radio and spoke with Alex Marvez and former Bears quarterback Jim Miller about his time in Chicago and the events that led to his departure.
"I honestly can say I'm not shocked at this news at all,” Urlacher said. “åThe way things have been going the last month, month and a half, I really saw it going this direction. I even told my agents that. So I really wasn't that shocked when this happened today."
On what being a Chicago Bear has meant to him:
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Urlacher: "What a great place to play defense, number one. If you're a defensive player this is the place where you want to play football, especially middle linebacker. There's no other place. Fans love defense there. I think that's the number one thing I learned when I was there; if you're a defensive player, you're decent and you like to hit, you're going to be well liked here. I loved my time here. A great 13 years. It was fun. We did a lot. We didn't win the big one, which we ultimately wanted to do, but had some great times. The number one thing I'm going to miss is my teammates. That's going to be the hardest thing for me, is leaving behind these guys, not seeing them every day, not getting to hang out and have fun in the locker room. The locker room is fun. We have a good time in the locker room, we have a good time at practice and Sunday is fun day. So I'm going to miss them the most. The fans have always been great. Just going to miss my teammates the most."
Urlacher: "I'll always be a Chicago Bear no matter where I end up or where I retire, whatever happens. Obviously, this is where I've played the most years at. I don't think I'm going to play 13 more years somewhere else. So I'll always be a Bear but just not anymore on the playing field, I guess."
On what happened with the negotiations:
Urlacher: "The Bears and my agents met at the Combine right before free agency started and they asked us to make an offer because they weren't sure, they didn't want to - what's the word - insult me with an offer, is what they said. So can we make an offer. So my agents made an offer, two years about five and half million bucks a year. Obviously willing to work down from that because you're not going to get what you ask for your first time, we know that. Willing to work down from that so we figured that was a good starting point. ... And then the Bears never got back to us for about two or three weeks. Didn't hear back and then they came back with an offer, I want to say last week maybe, for one year, two million, was their offer. Which is a lot of money, don't get me wrong, but for me to go through a season, put my body through what it goes through during a season at my age, I'm not going to play for that, you know, not for the Bears at least. So we made a counter offer and that was never acceptable to them. They said, basically, our offer is one year, two million. It was an ultimatum basically. It wasn't really an offer. It was either sign or we don't want you."
Host/Jim Miller: "They couldn't put maybe more incentives or earned incentives, things like that in there?"
Urlacher: "We tried that, too, Jim. We tried that and just, um, that wasn't, they said, 'This is what we have. Take it or leave it.' And, obviously, I left it."
Host/Alex Marvez: "It sounds like this may have gotten a little bit personal with the type of offer you had?"
Urlacher: "No, you know what? Like I said, it was never a negotiation. It was an ultimatum, is what I felt like. Sign this or don't play for us. I mean, I just don't feel like that was fair to me. I love the organization. I've always said good things about our organization and I always will. I loved playing for the Bears. I love the McCaskeys. But they brought in new management last year with a new GM. I guess I wasn't one of his guys. I wasn't there very long with him, only a year. I had a tough year last year, just didn't play as well as I'd like to. And then they've got a new head coach. Lovie [Smith] goes 10-6 and they fire him. So just different things around there. And who even knows if, I mean, I still haven't met Marc Trestman. I would have wanted to meet him first before I did sign a deal with them."
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.