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Bears, Urlacher part company

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Brian Urlacher's days as the face of the Chicago Bears' franchise ended Wednesday.

The Bears issued a statement to announce negotiations with the unrestricted free agent weren't fruitful, seemingly closing the book on Urlacher's 13-year run with the Bears.

"We were unable to reach an agreement with Brian and both sides have decided to move forward," said Bears general manager Phil Emery. "Brian has been an elite player in our league for over a decade. He showed great leadership and helped develop a winning culture over his time with the Bears. We appreciate all he has given our team, on and off the field. Brian will always be welcome as a member of the Bears."

Emery is entering his second season as general manager in Chicago and was a college scout with the Bears when Urlacher was drafted ninth overall in 2000.

"Over the last 13 years Brian Urlacher has been an outstanding player, teammate, leader and face of our franchise," Bears chairman George McCaskey said. "As Bears fans, we have been lucky to have such a humble superstar represent our city. He embodies the same characteristics displayed by the Bears all-time greats who played before him and he will eventually join many of them in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. We thank Brian for all he has given our team and our city. He will always be a part of the Bears family. We wish him the very best."

Reports early in free agency linked Urlacher to the Arizona Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys. He turns 35 in May and since a knee injury at Minnesota on the season finale in 2011, faced questions about his health, age and diminishing skills. Urlacher had knee surgery at the outset of training camp last summer and missed time with a hamstring injury.

Urlacher was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection and started 180 games in 13 seasons (2000-12) with the Bears recording a franchise-record 1,779 tackles.

He also had 41.5 sacks, 22 interceptions, 16 fumble recoveries and 11 forced fumbles for Chicago.

Urlacher was honored as the 2005 Defensive Player of the Year, the 2000 NFL Rookie of the Year and was a four-time All-Pro (2001-02, 2005-06).
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