Urlacher begins his first free agency

Once the clock struck 3 p.m. CST on Tuesday, Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher officially became an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his 13-year career.

That’s not to say the Bears won’t eventually sign Urlacher to a deal, but as of last week, his agent submitted a contract proposal to the team and was waiting for a counteroffer, according to a report from WFLD-FOX 32 in Chicago.

The sides remain in contact, but a deal isn’t imminent to keep the linebacker on the only NFL team he has ever played for, a league source told ESPN's Ed Werder on Friday.

It’s unknown what Urlacher seeks in compensation, but it will be significantly less than the $7.5 million base salary (plus $500,000 workout bonus) he earned last season, which counted $9,700,000 against the club's salary cap.

Urlacher experienced a decline in 2012 because of knee and hamstring problems that limited him to 12 games. Urlacher, now, however, appears to be in good health.

Urlacher has posted pictures and videos of himself training in Arizona, the site of his offseason residence, on his official Twitter account (@BUrlacher54) in recent days.

Sources at the NFL combine told ESPNChicago.com’s Jeff Dickerson that the Bears, in particular the new coaching staff, wanted Urlacher back.

But compensation would be a key issue when it comes to negotiating a new deal. The Bears also plan to attempt to re-sign starting strong side linebacker Nick Roach, who could be in line for an expanded role on defense even if the Bears finalize a deal with Urlacher.

Information from ESPNChicago.com’s Jeff Dickerson was used in this report.