The Chicago Bears have officially announced that the team is parting ways with middle linebacker Brian Urlacher. Bears’ general manager Phil Emery issued the following statement on Wednesday.
“We were unable to reach an agreement with Brian and both sides have decided to move forward,” Bears General Manager Phil Emery said. “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.” CBS Chicago
Bears’ chairman George McCaskey also issued a farewell to Urlacher.
As Bears fans, we have been lucky to have such a humble superstar represent our city. He embodies the same characteristics displayed by the Bears all-time greats who played before him and he will eventually join many of them in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. We thank Brian for all he has given our team and our city. He will always be a part of the Bears family. We wish him the very best.” CBS Chicago
Emery continues to impress me as the general manager of the Bears. With a new coaching staff in place led by head coach Marc Trestman, this off-season marked the perfect time for the organization to the sever the ties with the soon to be 35-year old middle linebacker that is essentially playing on one knee. While the Bears were willing to bring Urlacher back for the 2013 season, the team was not going to budge in negotiations with the veteran linebacker. The fact of the matter is that Urlacher is not the same pro-bowl linebacker that he once was for the Chicago Bears. While there is no question that Urlacher can still serve as a productive linebacker for a NFL team, the Bears were not going to pay for sentiment when it came to re-signing Urlacher.
For the Bears, the focus now turns to finding a starting middle linebacker. Chances are that position will be filled with their 20th overall selection in the first round of the NFL Draft in April. The announcement that Urlacher will not be returning to the Bears also puts added significance on the loss of linebacker Nick Roach to Oakland Raiders. Had the Bears re-signed Roach, chances are he would have been the permanent replacement to Urlacher. There is no question that Urlacher is a future hall of famer. But as the case was with the Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning last off-season, the time was perfect for the Bears and Urlacher to part ways.