Urlacher’s decision comes two months after he was unable to agree on a new contract with the Bears.
The 34-year-old linebacker at the time was quoted by the Chicago Tribune as saying the team’s one-year contract offer with a maximum salary of $2 million was “insulting.” Urlacher had initially sought a two-year, $11.5 million deal.
“Although I could continue playing, I’m not sure I would bring a level of performance or passion that’s up to my standards,” Urlacher said in a statement. “When considering this, along with the fact that I could retire after a 13-year career wearing only one jersey for such a storied franchise, my decision became pretty clear.”
Urlacher made $7.5 million last season, when he missed the entire offseason training program and preseason with a knee injury. After returning to the field, he was leading the team in tackles before being forced to sit out the team’s final four games with a hamstring injury.
Urlacher was selected by Chicago with the ninth overall pick in the 2000 NFL draft and was voted the Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year. In 2005, he won the league’s top defensive player honor and the following season helped the Bears reach the Super Bowl, where they lost to the Indianapolis Colts.
“He’s a Hall of Famer in my opinion,” former Bears coach Mike Ditka said on ESPN.
Urlacher totaled 41 1/2 sacks and 22 interceptions over 182 games with the Bears.
“I will miss my teammates, my coaches and the great Bears fans,” Urlacher said. “I’m proud to say that I gave all of you everything I had every time I took the field. I will miss this great game, but I leave it with no regrets.”
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