Brian Urlacher and the Bears closed the door on the middle linebacker’s time in a blue helmet with their distinctive “C” on it. But for their part, the Bears have not locked it.
Contract talks broke off abruptly last month amid a press release announcing the rupture and some hard feelings existed on the part of Urlacher over what he perceived as a lowball offer and an unwillingness to negotiate.
But Bears Chairman George McCaskey, who talked with Urlacher after the break-off, did not rule out some scenario under which Urlacher would be welcomed back at Halas Hall.
“It’s up to the market and Phil [Emery, general manager] and Marc [Trestman, coach],” McCaskey said on Tuesday at the team’s Ed Block Courage Award luncheon in Des Plaines. “Phil said it’s a process and we’ll just go through it and see what happens.”
That wasn’t a “no.”
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“That’s not up to me,” McCaskey said, smiling. “Bears fans should be reassured that I don’t involve myself in personnel decisions.”
Urlacher in a Bears uniform this year remains an extreme longshot. In the days immediately following the team announced it was no longer talking about a contract with Urlacher, the team signed former Denver Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams and Carolina Panthers linebacker James Anderson.
Notable perhaps, neither is a true middle linebacker. The Bears are expected to seek a top-shelf prospect in the draft but the team offered Urlacher a $2 million contract with $1 million guaranteed in hopes of having him in place for the transition to the new coaching staff.
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“Brian knows how we feel about him: He’s one of the all-time great Bears, continued the outstanding linebacker legacy of the Bears, he’s going to be in the Hall of Fame and everyone’s going to think of him as a Chicago Bear…..
“I said going into the process that I’d be heartbroken if he didn’t come back and I am. The whole family is.”