Nov 11, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher (54) reacts after making a play against the Houston Texans during the second quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
Since the beginning of the off-season, the Chicago Bears have been both very busy, and very quiet at the same time. This, is typically how the Bears’ current GM Phil Emery wants to run his operations, as it allows for him to conduct negotiations and to plan future moves with little or no interference at all. Normally, we will not hear anything official leak out, until the moves are actually being made. From the trade for current Bears star WR Brandon Marshall executed last year, to the signings of both Pro Bowl LT Jermon Bushrod and TE Martellus Bennett made last week, all 3 of those moves indicate the stealthiness of Phil Emery’s business plan. The same could be said for the current situation with their potential HOF LB in Brian Urlacher, as there has been very little movement made by the Bears that would indicate their intentions of re-signing him.
A couple weeks ago, sources leaked info that Brian Urlacher and his agents submitted a proposal to the Bears for a deal that would allow for his return to the Chicago Bears. As of this moment, there has yet to be any reports about the Bears submitting a counter-proposal to his deal. So, Brian Urlacher is an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his long career. Given that the Bears haven’t “shown” any true commitment as to re-signing Brian Urlacher, one could believe that he’s as good as gone. That, is completely untrue, as contrary to the standard of which Phil Emery operates, the Bears’ higher management has been very vocal as to their desire in seeing him retire as a Chicago Bear. Earlier today, multiple reporters had a chance to interview current Bears Chairman of the Board George McCaskey, who was quoted in the following statement:
However, despite his senior rank in the organization, he stated that he will not be making any decisions, as he shortly followed the previous statement with:
And, as per the norm this off-season, the overall non-commitment to the matter:
In essence, his statements suggest that the final decision will be made by their GM, Phil Emery. Moments later, another member of the Bears’ organization made statements that completely contradict the supposed “non-commitment”, with these statements coming from Phil Emery’s boss in Team President Ted Phillips. When Ted Phillips was asked about the ongoing and cloudy status of Brian Urlacher, Ted Phillips said (Tweet):
Those two statements send a clear and direct message to the NFL; that the Chicago Bears want their star LB back in a Bears’ jersey. Of course, the feeling around the league is the Bears definitely want him back, but at “their” price. That “price” is currently unknown at this time, and probably won’t be known until a deal is struck (as usual). This reunion is one that will benefit both sides, as not only does Brian Urlacher want to return to the Bears, but the Bears are in a position where they need him back. As it stands, only 1 starting LB from last-season is still under contract with the Bears, LB Lance Briggs. Otherwise, Nick Roach signed with the Oakland Raiders to be their starting MLB, and Brian Urlacher is still a free agent. Also, Brian Urlacher needs the Bears, as he doesn’t seem to be drawing much interest from other teams around the NFL. Only 1 team has been confirmed to speak with Brain Urlacher, and that team was the Minnesota Vikings, who haven’t offered him a contract as of yet. When you add up the past events, this would be a mutual deal that’s ideal for all parties involved.
Now, any deal agreed to by both sides certainly will not (and shouldn’t be) an agreement made with long-term implications. He will, after all, be turning 35 this season. If he does indeed return, look for the Bears to be searching for his heir apparent in the draft, one that may not be selected in the 1st round. The ideal situation at this time would be for the Bears to re-sign Brian Urlacher to a contract no longer than 2-3 years, one of which with a fairly low impact on their budget. Then, select a young as well as a talented prospect in the draft, preferably between rounds 2-4 –they’ve only got 5 picks this year– and perhaps sign another veteran to provide insurance. One name that could make sense in that regard, is Jaguars’ LB Daryl Smith, who’s played under current Bears Defensive Coordinator Mel Tucker. After observing Phil Emery since day one as the Bears’ GM, nothing is a guarantee, anything could happen at this point.
He himself has stated in public that the negotiations with Brian Urlacher are an “ongoing process”. What is the true meaning behind that statement could be up for interpretation. If I had to guess what will happen, Brian Urlacher will return to the Bears in a move that will be welcomed by fans and players alike. In a situation where the Chicago Bears are in a “win-now” mode, re-signing their MLB in Brian Urlacher will help this team do just that, win.