Fox Sports analyst and former Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher has been making the necessary Chicago stops while in New York this week for the Super Bowl. Urlacher has had interviews with several Chicago outlets and it’s clear that there is still tension between the future hall of famer and the team that he has played his whole career with.
While speaking with ESPN Chicago 1000 this week, Urlacher suggested that the Bears are shedding Lovie Smith players off their roster.
“What I’m thinking is the new guy that came in there, he’s just trying to get rid of all of Lovie’s players, is the way I feel about it,” Urlacher, now an analyst at Fox Sports 1, said during Tuesday’s “Waddle & Silvy Show” on ESPN Radio 1000. “I think there’s gonna be other guys around there that are gone as well that have been really good players for that team for a long time. You get older, that’s what happens.” -Brian Urlacher, ESPN Chicago
That certainly isn’t a foreign practice when it comes to professional sports whenever there is a new coach in place. The new coach almost always overhauls the roster with players that fit his system. A new system is usually why there is a new coach in the first place. Meaning it would seem logical that there would be a roster makeover.
After making over the offensive side of the roster, general manager Phil Emery is determined to makeover the defensive side of the roster. That would be where most of Lovie Smith’s former players could see their tenure end with the team.
The first victim of the turnover may be veteran cornerback Charles Tillman. Tillman is set to test the free agent market when the new year begins in March and there is a growing consensus that the veteran will not return to the Bears next season. A Bears team that will be changing their defense to a hybrid scheme in addition to getting younger.
Though, if the decision was up to Urlacher, Tillman would remain a Bear.
“If I’m in the front office, I’m trying to give my team the best chance to win. For me as a front-office guy, he gives my team the best chance to win at left or right corner, wherever he is,” Urlacher said. “If I was a GM and I had a chance to sign Charles Tillman before anybody else could sign him, I would love to sign him. Especially if he was with my team for 11 years, I would be happy to keep him on my team with the type of teammate he is and leader. But maybe there are different opinions about that in Chicago. You think about Charles Tillman, you think about a Bear, a guy who pretty much led the Bears through takeaways. When you think about the fumbles and stuff, he’s the guy you think about.” -Urlacher, ESPN Chicago
One thing to note about Urlacher is that the former linebacker has always been loyal to his Bear teammates. Meaning, it should surprise no one that Urlacher is clamoring for the idea that Tillman makes the Bears the best chance to win. Urlacher’s loyalty may blind him to the fact that Tillman is indeed aging and injuries may begin to take a toll on his performance.
In a league that is consistently finding young lock-down cornerbacks, it is time for the Bears to follow that trend. A trend that may make Urlacher more discontent with his former team.