The Chicago Bears ended their 13- year relationship with four-time All-Pro linebacker Brian Urlacher after he and the team were unable to agree on a contract.
“Both sides have decided to move forward,” Bears General Manager Phil Emery said in a statement on the team’s website. “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.”
Urlacher, an eight-time Pro Bowl player, said he was insulted by the Bears’ offer and disagreed that the split was mutual, with his representation never voicing a desire to move on, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The Bears offered Urlacher a one-year contract with a maximum salary of $2 million, including a $1 million guarantee, while he had initially sought a two-year, $11.5 million deal, the Tribune said. He made $7.5 million last year.
“It wasn’t even an offer, it was an ultimatum,” Urlacher said, according to the newspaper. “I feel like I’m a decent football player still. It was insulting, somewhat of a slap in the face.”
The 34-year-old Urlacher was picked ninth in the first round by Chicago in the 2000 National Football League draft. He was named the Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year and in 2005 was named AP’s Defensive Player of the Year.
The Bears reached the playoffs four times during Urlacher’s stay, including a trip to the Super Bowl following the 2006 season.
Urlacher missed the entire offseason training program and preseason last year with a knee injury. Still, he led the team in tackles before injuring his hamstring on Dec. 2 and missing the team’s final four games.
“As Bears fans, we have been lucky to have such a humble superstar represent our city,” Bears Chairman George McCaskey said in a statement. “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.”
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