Black and Blue all over: Bears maintain faith in Urlacher

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
The long-running contract dialogue between middle linebacker Brian Urlacher and the Chicago Bears always carried a heavy undertone: Did the Bears really believe that Urlacher, 30, had a good enough long-term bill of health -- physically and otherwise -- to merit a raise?

After all, Urlacher has had back problems and submitted to offseason surgery on his neck. And like many veterans who spend their careers in one city, he has feuded with part of the powerful Chicago media market and seemed sour on the city at various times last season. The Bears can't possibly have definitive answers to those questions before training camp, but they decided it was worth at least $6 million to express confidence that they do.

For one day, at least, reaction was generally positive in Chicago.

  • It's up to Urlacher to justify the Bears' faith on and off the field, writes David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune. "Behaving like an adult whose example affects millions of his fans of all ages should be assumed more than applauded," Haugh writes.

  • The Bears came to the aid of Urlacher's "wobbling image" by giving him "an unnecessary contractual bump," writes Jay Mariotti of the Chicago Sun-Times. Urlacher wanted much more money but realized this was the best he could do under the circumstances.

  • Urlacher apparently was able to fight off one provision of the Bears' original offer, writes Brad Biggs of the Sun-Times: The final deal did not appear to contain any minimum playing-time requirements in order to earn an annual $1 million bonus. Urlacher only needs to be on the roster to earn the money.

  • There is hope that first-round offensive lineman Chris Williams will agree to terms before players are required to report to camp at midnight Wednesday.

  • Talks are progressing with the Detroit Lions' draft class, but as of Tuesday morning they had signed only one of nine draft picks.

  • Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson exchanged pleasantries but had no substantive talks over the weekend with retired quarterback Brett Favre, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. (You knew Favre's name would appear in this space soon enough, right)? Thompson said he is not nervous about the Packers' annual shareholders' meeting Thursday. "Should I be?" Thompson asked.

  • Computer technology is the closest the Minnesota Vikings will get to having Favre in purple.