NFL Free Agency is a week old. And a number of big name defensive stars are still without a team, including our very own Brian Urlacher. And my question is, why?
Brian Urlacher seems like a very low-risk, low-cost signing to me. Especially after Nick Roach, who played a lot of MLB last season with Urlacher injured, signed a 4 year deal with Oakland, the Bears don’t exactly have the kind of LB depth to be letting Urlacher go. There is nobody sitting in the wings. Management has insisted that last years first round pick Shea McClellin will be a DE, not a linebacker like he played in college. And there is no doubt that when Urlacher got hurt last year, the Bears biggest weakness was the middle of the field. Urlacher may be older and physically not able to do everything he used to, but, for the money it would cost to bring him back, is there a linebacker out there who would be as good/better? Doesn’t it seem worth the money to keep the face of the franchise and of the defense in a year with a complete coaching overhaul? Can you find someone in the draft that’ll be ready to start at MLB for a veteran defense who has been playing together for years?
And remember – Hall of Fame players who are the face of the franchise are as expendable as anyone. Joe Montana didn’t finish his Hall of Fame career with the 49ers. Neither did Jerry Rice. Peyton Manning was sent to Denver, Bruce Smith left Buffalo for the Redskins.
But Urlacher has been visiting other teams, testing the free agent market, and he has not found any takers. And don’t you think a player of his caliber and reputation should have by now?
So who has the upper hand in this deal? Are the Bears saying, “this is how much you’re worth to us, take it or leave it”? Is Urlacher saying, “this is how much I want, and if you don’t give it to me, I’m leaving”? I think either way the Bears need insurance for Urlacher, given his age and recent injury history. But won’t it just feel better to see ol #54 in Blue and Orange again this fall?