The Chicago Bears talked for weeks about how they wanted Brian Urlacher to return for the 2013 season.
In the end, unless there is a major chunk of the story missing, the organization said one thing and did something else.
Because when the Bears offered Urlacher a one-year contract with $1 million guaranteed and a maximum value of $2 million, they had to know he was going to turn it down. That represented a 75 percent pay cut from 2012 when Urlacher earned $8 million. There is no way the Bears could have figured Urlacher would jump at the offer even if his venture into free agency didn’t turn up much interest.
“It wasn't even an offer, it was an ultimatum," Urlacher told Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune. "I feel like I'm a decent football player still. It was insulting, somewhat of a slap in the face.
"They came back with the offer and said, 'This is what it is, take it or leave it.' It was, 'If you want to play for the Bears, you'll play for this. If not, then you're not playing for the Bears.'"
Urlacher said his agents responded with a proposal for the eight-time Pro Bowl performer to play for $3.5 million. The Bears were done. When Urlacher turned down the $2 million deal, he says that is when the team sent out a release that the sides had agreed to go in different directions, an abrupt ending for a 13-year veteran that had been the face of the franchise for much of the time.
"This whole offseason, I had a bad feeling about this situation anyway," Urlacher said. "I just wish they would have said, 'We don't want you back.' I think this whole thing is just about them saving face and trying to say that they made a run at me."
Now, we’ll see if a market develops for Urlacher in free agency. It may take some time. It’s a shame for him it took until the second week of free agency for him to learn his fate in Chicago.
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune
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