Brian Urlacher joined Alex Marvez and Jim Miller on Sirius XM radio right after he learned that he and the Bears wouldn’t reach an agreement for the 2013 season.
Alex Marvez: Thanks for joining us on a tough day. Are you hanging in there?
Brian Urlacher: Yeah, I’m good. Honestly, I can say that I am not shocked at this news at all. The way this thing has been going the last month and a half, I really saw it going in this direction. I even told my agent that, so I wasn’t really that shocked when it happened today.
Jim Miller: What did it mean to be a Chicago Bear and why didn’t you guys come to an agreement?
BU: What a great place to play defense, number one. If you’re a defensive player, this is the place you want to play football, especially if you’re a middle linebacker, there’s no other place. The fans love defense there. I think that’s the number one thing I learned when I was there is if you’re a defensive player and you like to hit, you’re going to be well-liked here. I love my time [I had] here. Great 13 years. It was fun. We didn’t win the big one, which is ultimately what we wanted to do, but I had some great times. The number one thing I’m going to miss is my teammates. That’s the hardest thing for me is leaving behind these guys and not seeing them every day and not getting to hang out every day and have fun. The locker room is fun. We have a good time in the locker room.
AM: What happened? I read the Bears offered you a one-year, $2 million deal and that was unacceptable to you, I take it.
BU: The Bears and my agent met at the combine, right before free agency started, and they asked us to make an offer because they didn’t want to insult me with an offer, is what they said. So my agent sent them an offer, two years about $5.5 million bucks a year, obviously willing to work down from that cause you’re not going to get what you ask for your first time. We all know that. We figured that was a good starting point. I think I made $8 million bucks last year and nine the year before that, so five and a half was fair, I thought.Then, the Bears never got back to us for about two or three weeks. Didn’t hear back. And then they came in with an offer last week for one-year, $2 million. It’s a lot of money. Don’t get me wrong, but for me to go through the season and put my body through what it goes through during the season at my age. I’m not going to play for that. Not for the Bears at least. So, I made a counter-offer and that was never acceptable to them. They said their offer was a one-year, $2 million, it was an ultimatum basically. It wasn’t really an offer. It was either sign it or we don’t want you.
JM: It’s interesting that they didn’t try to add more incentives …
BU: We tried that too, Jim. They said, “This is what we have, take it or leave it.” And obviously, I left it.
JM: What’s your take on the market as a veteran player?
BU: It happens every year. I’ve never had to experience this, but it happens every year in the NFL with all these great players with the high cap number that don’t come back. Or they come back for less. That’s just the way it is, I guess. You get younger players in there, that might not be quite as experienced, but they do it for less. Especially if you have a good quarterback, you know, the guys that make $15 to $20 million bucks a year, you have a lot of your money tied up into your quarterback, so you gotta go cheaper which I understand. I really didn’t think people would think that I would leave Chicago during free agency. A lot of people didn’t think Chicago would let me get away.
AM: Did this get personal with the offer?
BU: It’s just, it was never a negotiation. It was an ultimatum. It was like sign this or don’t play for us and I didn’t think that was fair to me. I love our organization. I’ve always said good things about our organization and I always will. I loved playing for the Bears. I love the McCaskey’s. But they brought in new management last year with a new GM. I guess I wasn’t one of his guys. I wasn’t there very long with him, only a year, and I had a tough year last year. I just didn’t play as well as I liked to and they got a new head coach. Lovie goes 10-6 and they fire him. So, just different things around there, I still haven’t even met Marc Trestman. Even if I would have signed with them, I would have wanted to meet him first before I signed a deal with them.
AM: What are the factors you’re going to consider going forward? And how much football do you have left?
BU: I don’t know how much I have left. Ya know, I felt really good towards the end of the season and my knee started getting better, I felt like I was getting better, then I pull my damn hamstring in Week 13 chasing Russell Wilson around the field in overtime. I popped my hamstring and missed the last four games, but I want to win, man. I think that’s pretty common for every guy, especially at my age, for someone who hasn’t won the Super Bowl. Money isn’t going to be an issue. I’ve done pretty well in Chicago, so I’d like to go somewhere and win.
JM: Is there a serious interest in Minnesota?
BU: I don’t know. My agent will talk with everybody and they’ll go down that route and figure out what the best situation is for me and see if there’s any situation that I can fit into. There are certain defense’s that fit me better and there are some that I have never been a part of, so it’s just going to come down to what works best for the team and me. I’m in no hurry, ill tell you that much. I’ve been enjoying my time this offseason, at least. I’m finally healthy, playing a bunch of golf and hanging out with the family.