Vaughn McClure spoke with Brian Urlacher following the announcement that he and the Chicago Bears couldn’t reach agreement on a new contract. While the Bears insisted that Urlacher wouldn’t be slighted in the process, he sure feels that way:
“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.’ “
It’s been widely reported that Urlacher and his agent went to the Bears seeking a 2 year deal worth $11.5 million dollars, a substantial pay cut from the $8 million that Urlacher made last season. The thought was that they would start high and meet somewhere in the middle during negotiations. Those negotiations never really materialized, as the Bears stood firmly to the 1 year, $2 million dollar offer they gave to the veteran linebacker.
Much like his 2012 season, Urlacher was stuck in the mud and never had the leverage in this negotiation. There was some scant interest from the Minnesota Vikings, but nothing really came of it. There were reports that the Dallas Cowboys and defensive line coach Rod Marinelli had interest, but they admitted “it didn’t make much sense” for them, so when that option dried up, it was time to end this standoff.
What Urlacher forgot about contract negotiations, is that when you have no leverage there isn’t much of a negotiation. He must think former Cubs GM Jim Hendry is running the Bears. Hendry often bid against himself and overpaid. That is not how the 2013 Chicago Bears operate. Urlacher was on the market for over a week. If there was money out there, if there were other offers out there, wouldn’t they have come in? Wouldn’t he have something to take to the Bears to get them to match the reported $3 – $3.5 million for which he would settle?
The Bears paid Urlacher when they didn’t have to a few years ago, when he was still in his prime. They weren’t going to go there again. The fact is, the Bears were offering $2 million, about a million more dollars than what they had to. Urlacher chose to walk away from that. Maybe there is some team out there that will pay him more to get an aging Hall of Famer to amble around to try to get some butts in the seats. The fact is, if he really wanted to be on the Bears, he would have taken their $2 million and proven them wrong.
“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.”
Bears legend Steve McMichael ended his career in Green Bay. Jim McMahon wore many hats, including the Packers and Vikings, after his days with the Bears. NFL legends Joe Montana and Jerry Rice ended up playing in different uniforms. As a said last week, it’s not personal, this is business. Football is a tough business.
Thanks for the memories Brian!