Story Summary

Brian Urlacher retires from NFL

After playing the last 13 years with the Chicago Bears, LB Brian Urlacher announced his retirement from the NFL.

The Chicago Bears announced earlier this year that they were unable to reach a deal with Urlacher for the 2013 season.

Story Timeline
Previous Next
This story has 8 updates
The Pat-Down
05/31/13

Bears cornerback Tim Jennings

Bears cornerback Tim Jennings talks about being ranked in the top 100 NFL players, the loss of Brian Urlacher and helping high school student-athletes.

For more information on the Beyond Sports Foundation Golf Benefit check out supportBSF.org.

The man who once symbolized the Chicago Bears’ rock-solid defense is retiring from the NFL.

All-Pro linebacker Brian Urlacher announced his retirement on Twitter Wednesday.

The Bears announced in March he and the team couldn’t reach a deal on a contract, and were going their separate ways.

Urlacher said at the time it was more of an ultimatum than anything else.

No other offers, if there were any, became public.

Urlacher won NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year honors.

He said partly in a statement: “Although I could keep playing, I’m not sure I would bring a level of performance or passion that’s up to my standards.”

He tweeted a link to an official statement:

The Bears announced the signing of D.J. Williams on Friday.

Official Release from the Bears:

“We are happy to welcome D.J. to the Bears and are excited to start working with him,” Bears General Manager Phil Emery said. “This is a great opportunity for D.J. to restart his career after coming off suspension for part of the 2012 season. We see a player that has very good athletic upside who can contribute immediately at ‘Mike’ (middle) linebacker. He is also a versatile player who has played both outside linebacker positions, giving us flexibility in the draft.”

The 6-1, 242-pound Williams has started 115 of 127 games played in nine seasons (2004-12) with Denver after being selected 17th overall by the Broncos during the 2004 NFL Draft out of the University of Miami (FL). He started at the weakside (39), inside (31), strongside (29) and middle (16) linebacker positions for the Broncos during his career, recording 816 tackles, 20.5 sacks, 13 forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries, 38 pass break ups and two interceptions. His 816 tackles are 10th in the NFL since 2004 and he is one of five players to record 800 tackles and 20 sacks since entering the league.

Williams started five of six postseason contests for Denver, recording 32 tackles, three pass break ups and a half sack.

Brian Urlacher wanted to finish his career with the Chicago Bears. He didn’t believe he was asking management for too much money when the team decided to cut ties with him Wednesday.

Urlacher’s agent originally approached the Bears seeking a two-year deal worth $11.5 million.

The thought was to aim high initially and reach a middle ground through negotiations.

The Bears apparently wouldn’t budge on their offer of a one-year contract worth a maximum value of $2 million.

Chicago Bears fans react to the news of Brian Urlacher leaving.

Brian Urlacher wanted to finish his career with the Chicago Bears. He didn’t believe he was asking management for too much money when the team decided to cut ties with him Wednesday.

Urlacher’s agent originally approached the Bears seeking a two-year deal worth $11.5 million. The thought was to aim high initially and reach a middle ground through negotiations.
The Bears apparently wouldn’t budge on their offer of a one-year contract worth a maximum value of $2 million.

“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 said he was willing to play for $3.5 million or even $3 million had the Bears been willing to keep negotiations ongoing.

“I want to be here,” Urlacher said. “I wanted to be in Chicago. I wanted to finish here. Now that’s not possible.

“This whole offseason, I had a bad feeling about this situation anyway. 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. That’s what I think it is.”

Urlacher has no plans to retire and continues to explore his options. He has been in contact with numerous teams.

Despite the low offer and the team’s decision to move in another direction, Urlacher vowed not to be bitter over the situation.

“There are no hard feelings between me and the Bears organization,” Urlacher said. “I had a great run here. I’m going to miss the (heck) out of my teammates.”

Urlacher’s legend was born Sept. 17, 2000, when he recorded 13 tackles and a sack in his first NFL start. Thirteen seasons and more than 1,700 tackles later, the 34-year-old longtime face of the Bears must now start a new chapter.

“We were unable to reach an agreement with Brian and both sides have decided to move forward,” general manager Phil Emery said in a statement. “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.”

Owner George McCaskey said earlier in the week he hoped Urlacher would return but made it clear he steered wide of personnel decisions.

“Over the last 13 years Brian Urlacher has been an outstanding player, teammate, leader and face of our franchise,” McCaskey said in the statement. “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.”

Now the eight-time Pro Bowl selection is left to ponder whether to continue his illustrious career elsewhere or walk away from the game with a bitter taste in his mouth. Urlacher missed the final four games of 2012 with a hamstring injury, watched his team miss the playoffs and saw coach Lovie Smith, whom he respected greatly, get fired after a 10-6 season.

The news of Urlacher’s departure stunned Bears players.

“He was the unquestioned leader of the defense, the team,” said center Roberto Garza, a team captain like Urlacher. “You couldn’t meet a greater person or player. Great locker room guy. He meant so much to this team, this city.

“Coach Lovie used to say he would be the greatest superstar you will ever meet because Brian doesn’t act that way and he doesn’t want to be treated that way. He was just another guy in the locker room. Obviously, he was Brian Urlacher. He’s one of the best middle linebackers to play the game but he didn’t act that way. And he was just another guy. If you needed some help, he was there for you. He was a big part of the reason that defense has been the defense it’s been for so many, many years.”

Chicago Tribune reporting

Chicago Tribune Bears reporter Brad Biggs discusses if the team really wanted to bring back linebacker Brian Urlacher and what’s next for the Bears defense.

Brian Urlacher wanted to finish his career with the Chicago Bears. He didn’t believe he was asking management for too much money when the team decided to cut ties with him Wednesday. Bears fans on the streets of Chicago react.

After playing the last 13 years with the Chicago Bears, LB Brian Urlacher is now a free agent.

The Chicago Bears announced Wednesday that they were unable to reach a deal with Urlacher for the 2013 season.

“We were unable to reach an agreement with Brian and both sides have decided to move forward,” Bears General Manager Phil Emery said in a news release. “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.”

The eight-time Pro Bowler started 180-of-182 games played in 13 seasons (2000-12) with the Bears recording a franchise-record 1,779 tackles. The ninth overall selection in the 2000 NFL Draft recorded 41.5 sacks, 22 interceptions, 16 opponent fumble recoveries and 11 forced fumbles for Chicago.

Urlacher was honored as the 2005 Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year, the 2000 NFL Rookie of the Year, was a four-time All-Pro (2001-02, 2005-06), a two-time Brian Piccolo Award winner (2000 and 2007) and was named the team’s Ed Block Courage Award winner in 2011.

Advertisement