As Brian Urlacher enters free agency on Tuesday, the veteran linebacker remains highly uncertain about his future plans. And if the Chicago Bears are planning to try to bring him back for a 14th season, they're doing a good job of keeping their intentions unknown.
According to a source familiar with Urlacher's situation, there doesn't seem to be a prevailing sense of urgency coming from Halas Hall as the official start of the 2013 league year approaches Tuesday afternoon. Urlacher, 34, received interest from several teams during the 87-hour "legal tampering" period that preceded the start of free agency, though it's believed he prefers to remain with the franchise that drafted him ninth overall in 2000.
Urlacher, who made $8 million last season, would almost certainly have to take a pay cut to remain in Chicago. His agents reportedly submitted a contract offer to the Bears late last week, but there does not seem to have been any significant give-and-take since that time.
At least one other team is known to have at least mild interest in signing the eight-time Pro Bowl selection: the Dallas Cowboys. With the hiring of Monte Kiffin as the team's new defensive coordinator, Urlacher could remain in the ‘Tampa 2" scheme in which he's had so much success during his career.
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However, the Cowboys are cash-strapped (thanks partly to the $10 million salary-cap penalty they received for overloading contracts during the uncapped 2010 season) and have a young, standout middle linebacker in Sean Lee.
"We haven't ruled it out," a Cowboys source said of making a run at Urlacher.
The Bears, too, are limited by salary-cap space, and they may have to choose between Urlacher and another free agent, Nick Roach, a versatile 27-year-old linebacker who has started 29 games over the past two seasons for Chicago. When Urlacher suffered a right hamstring injury in the Bears' overtime defeat to the Seattle Seahawks last December, Roach moved over to middle linebacker and replaced him for the remainder of the season.
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