Brian Urlacher playing football in any uniform that isn’t topped with a orange “C” on the helmet is downright frightening. It’s akin to Joe Namath in a Rams jersey, or O.J. Simpson in a 49ers jersey. Urlacher may or may not still experience some success while fading off into the twilight, but that sight alone would be sacrilegious and evil.
Prepare for the darkness. Because it’s maybe, probably coming.
Jay Glazer was the latest bringer of doom, telling Mike Francesa — the king of New York sports talk radio who thoroughly enjoys a soothing afternoon nap — that he believes Urlacher will leave Chicago. When that digital sound bite hit the Twitters, there was just under two hours left before Urlacher is in fact set to become a free agent.
While the sight of Urlacher playing elsewhere will be difficult to bear (hey, see what I did there? heyo), and there will be a fiery pitchfork revolt by the team’s fan base immediately, it’s easy to justify Urlacher’s impending departure. His speed has declined significantly, with his tackles dropping from 102 in 2011 to just 68 this past season. Of course, that drop was also a product of his wonky knee and decaying body that resulted in four missed games.
The Bears have been linked to Jake Long and Phil Loadholt in the hours before free agency, two of the top offensive tackles, and the addition of either will further solidify an offensive line that’s still causing Jay Cutler far too much pain (he’s been sacked 113 times over his last 40 games). They’ve also been linked to Jared Cook, the soon-to-be former Titans tight end who’s set to destroy every bank everywhere. Whether it’s Cook or, say, Dustin Keller, an upgrade at that position is also much needed to provide support for Brandon Marshall, and another target for Cutler at a position that’s largely been irrelevant in Chicago since Greg Olsen left for Carolina.
Either way, addressing other needs is a far greater priority than retaining Urlacher and spending a portion of their roughly $6-10 million in cap room on a middle linebacker who will turn 35 in May.