Brian Urlacher says departure from Bears is not mutual (USA Today Sports Images)
The Chicago Bears announced on Wednesday that they were unable to reach agreement on a new contract with longtime middle linebacker Brian Urlacher and that the two sides were moving on from one another in 2013.
That news came as a surprise to...Brian Urlacher, Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune reports.
"My phone was blowing up, and I had no freaking idea what was going on," Urlacher said. "I had 10 messages in 20 seconds. Then I was like, 'Holy crap.' It was crazy."
According to the report, the Bears offered Urlacher, who earned $8 million in 2012, a one-year contract worth $2 million, with only $1 million in guaranteed money. Urlacher's camp had been seeking a two-year contract worth $11.5 million, but they would offer the Bears a counter proposal worth $3.5 million for one season.
The Bears, who currently have around $6 million in cap space, weren't interested in paying the eight-time Pro Bowler and the emotional leader of their defense $3.5 million for one season of work and are now in the market for a middle linebacker.
"It wasn't even an offer, it was an ultimatum," Urlacher told the 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 may have been surprised by the timing of the press release, but he is not surprised that his days patrolling the middle of the Bears' defense has come to an end.
Urlacher, who turns 35 in May, suffered a serious left knee injury in the 2011 regular season finale and missed the final four games of the 2012 season with a hamstring injury. With the Bears changing general managers after the 2011 season, and head coaches this offseason, Urlacher sensed that his time in the Windy City was coming to an end.
"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."
Urlacher plans to continue his career and hopes to play for a team with a shot at winner the Super Bowl. The veteran linebacker has been linked to the Dallas Cowboys, where former Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is the defensive line coach under coordinator Monte Kiffin, who is implementing the Tampa 2 this offseason. The Cowboys have shot down adding Urlacher as a free agent, which is a bit of a shame as Dallas will play the Bears in Chicago during the 2013 regular season.
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