Both Brian Urlacher and Ed Reed are preparing to begin their fade into the veteran abyss. They’re both 34 years old, but the difference is that Reed’s descent is still at least one year away if not more after he still played at a high level this past season, while Urlacher’s decline is very much in progress. He plays a far more physically demanding position, and that’s made his decay a little less gradual.
Now after 13 years with one team and 1,362 tackles, it’s time to move on. It sucks that football is a business.
A move that’s been rumored for some time is now official, with the Bears formally announcing that Urlacher won’t be re-signed. We’ll now wait for his next move, and retirement is certainly a possibility, meaning we’d see two of the greatest middle linebackers in league history begin their football afterlife in the same year (Urlacher and Ray Lewis). But Urlacher will surely gauge interest in his services, and he’ll join the growing list of veteran castoffs struggling to find meaningful NFL employment that includes Charles Woodson, Dwight Freeney, and Osi Umenyiora. Realistically, the broken down Urlacher we saw in 2012 will struggle mightily to get more than $2 million on a one-year contract, which is the Bears’ offer he reportedly turned down.
If we believe the words of new Bears head coach Marc Trestman from earlier today, then the decision to let Urlacher walk was primarily a financial one, and not solely a reflection of his performance.
From the Chicago Sun-Times:
“We evaluated Brian and we think he can help our football team — no doubt about it, we do. ” Trestman said. “[But] that’s the coaching side of it. The coaching side is that we’ve made an evaluation and feel good about having Brian back. Not just from a locker-room perspective, but as a player on a football team.
“We’ve established that as a staff and then the rest is the process, the collective process of what is best for the Bears. There is a lot that goes into that. There’s more to it than just the football side. There’s a lot that goes into it. That’s the best interests of the Bears. That’s where we are.”
The best interests of any team in their dealings with any player includes a number that varies depending on a wide range of factors, most notably performance, health, and age. Ultimately, the latter two were likely Urlacher’s undoing.