Brian Urlacher may not be a Bear right now and not ever be again. But that doesn’t keep him from being the center of interest with the Bears.
He was certainly front and center when I visited with Dan Bernstein and old Daily Herald pal Barry Rozner (sitting in for Terry Boers) on WSCR-AM 670’s “The Boers and Bernstein Show” this afternoon.
Coach Marc Trestman made a comment to the effect that Urlacher may be a “first- and second-down linebacker” and Dan reflected that this was a pretty indicting assessment, since so many teams pass on those downs more (see: Packers, Green Bay).
A good point to raise. And what I found particularly interesting in grades by a stat service like Pro Football Focus was that Urlacher in fact grades higher for pass coverage than run defense. Significantly higher, in fact.
My main takeaway from Trestman’s comments at the owners meetings in Phoenix is that, for the first time, the Bears went beyond platitudes about Urlacher to stating that they do want to re-sign him.
Barry wondered that if that was the case, wouldn’t that have already happened? Normally, yes. But Phil Emery said after the Jermon Bushrod and Martellus Bennett signings that the Bears were tight against the salary cap. That’s a pretty strong reason why there is not get-it-done-now money being put before Urlacher.
Dan brought up Shea McClellin, which I find an intriguing figure all of a sudden, and whether his future is indeed at linebacker. Dan makes a good point that Urlacher should not be re-signed to groom his replacement, and I agree. Urlacher is a superb in-place role model for the position, and if the Bears move McClellin to strong-side linebacker – he’s already under contract so no added cost staffing that position – he’s playing alongside a great player who’ll max his effectiveness in a new position.
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Barry didn’t sound convinced that the Bears are being truly transparent in their feelings about Jay Cutler. Maybe, maybe not. The absence of an extension is the best indicator there.
And the guys raised the very valid question about the need for Devin Hester at $2.4 million when you have Eric Weems on the roster.
All to play out this offseason. As Dan said, “Bourbonnais will matter this year.”