Brian Urlacher reflected on his 13-year career with the Chicago Bears, and the events that led to the end of that career, in an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio Wednesday.
“I loved my time here--great 13 years,” Urlacher said. “It was fun, we did a lot. Didn’t win the big one, which is what we ultimately wanted to do, but you know had some great times.”
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Those great times came to a halt around the time of the NFL combine, when Urlacher’s agents met with the Bears’ staff in Indianapolis to begin contract negotiations.
“They asked us to make an offer,” Urlacher said, “because they didn’t want to insult me with an offer.”
As a result, his agents were the first to throw out a number.
“I initially offered two years about $5.5 million a year, obviously willing to work down from that cause you’re not going to get what you ask for your first time,” Urlacher said. “We figured that was a good starting point. I think I made $8 million last year, nine the year before that, so five and half was fair I thought, willing to go down. And then the Bears never got back to us for about two or three weeks.”
Urlacher said that when the Bears responded last week, it wasn’t the counter offer he was expecting.
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“They said basically their offer was one year, two million. It was an ultimatum, it wasn’t really an offer, it was either sign it or we don’t want you,” Urlacher said.
He conceded that although $2 million is a lot of money, the ends simply don’t justify the means: “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, not for the Bears at least.”
Urlacher said his agents tried to balance the Bears’ disappointing counteroffer with various incentives and benefits, but it was to no avail.
“They said this is what we have--take it or leave it. And I obviously left it,” he said. “I just don’t feel like that was fair to me.”
“I love the organization, I’ve always said good things about the organization and I always will,” Urlacher continued. “But, you know, they brought in new management last year with the new GM...and then we got a new coach.”
Not once during his prolonged contract negotiations with the Bears did Urlacher meet Marc Trestman.
Perhaps Trestman already knew what many fans did not, according to Urlacher. “I really think people didn’t think I would leave Chicago….A lot of people didn’t think Chicago would let me get away.”
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Just where exactly Urlacher is going, however, remains unclear.
“I don’t know how much [football] I have left, I felt really good towards the end of last season,” Urlacher said. “But I want to win. I think that’s pretty common for every guy, especially at my age....Money’s not going to be an issue.”
Concerning the rumors of a move to Minnesota or Dallas, Urlacher said his agents would be talking to “everybody.”
“There are certain defenses that I think fit me better and some I’ve never been a part of. It’s just a matter of what’s best for the team and me,” Urlacher said. “I’m in no hurry.”
Wherever he ends up, Urlacher is certain of one thing: “I’ll always be a Chicago Bear. No matter where I end up, or where I retire, or whatever happens.”