Brian Urlacher has been a part of the Bears team since Dick Jauron was coach. But considering the change in management in Chicago, it's time Bears fans get used to the idea that Urlacher might not be wearing navy and orange this fall.
He talked about the possibility of leaving Chicago on the Waddle and Silvy Show and said he wants to stay in Chicago but is open to the idea that he may be elsewhere.
"Chicago is my home," Urlacher said. "Whether I play for the Bears or not, that's my home. So I want to be there and hopefully we can work something out, but if not I'll go somewhere else."
The question that Bears general manager Phil Emery and head coach Marc Trestman have to ask themselves is if Urlacher is worth it. He made $7.5 million in 2012. He admitted in the interview that he knows a discount is coming because of his injuries. He is willing to give Chicago a hometown discount, but they'll find out in negotiations if it will be enough.
Urlacher is still as reliable as ever on tackling. Until his injury, he was keeping pace with Lance Briggs for tackles. The biggest difference in Urlacher is that he's not as fast and athletic as he once was. That translates into him not forcing turnovers as he once did. His lone interception in 2012 came against Tennessee, when everyone but the water boy got a turnover. Lingering hamstring and knee injuries have hampered Urlacher. He's 34, and those injuries are much harder to deal with than when he was 25.
He does offer the Bears defense intangibles and stability in a time of change. He has led the Bears' consistently top-five defense for a long time and is respected by his peers.
But Briggs and Julius Peppers and Charles Tillman are leaders on the defense, too. And while it's nice to be sentimental about all the things Urlacher did for the team in the past, there are 53 spots on that roster. Every one of them must be comitted to the Bears' winning a Super Bowl. If Urlacher can't contribute both on and off the field, the Bears shouldn't waste a spot on him.