Urlacher's impact would be missed

The Bears might have to pick between Brian Urlacher and improving their offensive line. AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

With the clock ticking down to the start of the free-agency signing period, and the Bears needing to make a decision about whether to bring back middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, the good folks at ESPN Stats & Information put out some interesting information to give some perspective about his impact on the field.

Over the last five seasons, the Bears have allowed 16 more touchdowns than interceptions with Urlacher off the field, compared to 12 more INTs than TDs with him on the field.

Urlacher has been on the field for 74 percent of the team's defensive snaps since 2008. When he's on the field, team's average 3.8 yards per rushing attempt, compared to 4.3-yards per rush when he's off. When he's on the field, team's complete 61 percent of their passes, but that percentage creeps up to 63.2 when Urlacher isn't on the field.

So it's clear a healthy Urlacher makes an impact when he's on the field. And with another offseason to recover from the knee injury he suffered in the 2011 finale, he should be improved in 2013.

But given the team's needs and the salary cap situation, is it more important bring back an aging franchise stalwart or address deficiencies on the offensive line? It's unlikely the team can do both.