VERY CLOSE TO NFC NORTH HEADQUARTERS -- Not long after he officially parted ways with the Chicago Bears, linebacker Brian Urlacher took to the SiriusXM NFL airwaves to explain what happened and why he turned down the team's one-year contract offer. Speaking with hosts Alex Marvez and Jim Miller, the former Bears quarterback, Urlacher was detailed and impassioned, and it's worth posting a partial transcript of their conversation. Thanks to SiriusXM's Andrew Fitzpatrick for passing it along.
Brian Urlacher: I honestly can say I'm not shocked at this news at all. The way things have been going the last month, month and a half, I really saw it going this direction. I even told my agents that. So I really wasn't that shocked when this happened today.
On what being a Chicago Bear has meant to him
BU: What a great place to play defense, No. 1. If you're a defensive player, this is the place where you want to play football, especially middle linebacker. There's no other place. Fans love defense there. I think that's the No. 1 thing I learned when I was there. If you're a defensive player, you're decent and you like to hit, you're going to be well-liked here.
I loved my time here. A great 13 years. It was fun. We did a lot. We didn't win the big one, which we ultimately wanted to do, but had some great times. The No. 1 thing I'm going to miss is my teammates. That's going to be the hardest thing for me, is leaving behind these guys, not seeing them every day, not getting to hang out and have fun in the locker room. The locker room is fun. We have a good time in the locker room, we have a good time at practice and Sunday is fun-day. So I'm going to miss them the most. The fans have always been great. Just going to miss my teammates the most.
I'll always be a Chicago Bear no matter where I end up or where I retire, whatever happens. Obviously, this is where I've played the most years at. I don't think I'm going to play 13 more years somewhere else. So I'll always be a Bear but just not anymore on the playing field, I guess.
On what happened with the negotiations
BU: The Bears and my agents met at the combine right before free agency started and they asked us to make an offer because they weren't sure, they didn't want to -- what's the word -- insult me with an offer, is what they said. So, can we make an offer? So my agents made an offer: two years, about 5½ million bucks a year. Obviously, willing to work down from that because you're not going to get what you ask for your first time, we know that. Willing to work down from that, so we figured that was a good starting point. ...
And then the Bears never got back to us for about two or three weeks. Didn't hear back, and then they came back with an offer, I want to say last week maybe, for one year, 2 million was their offer. Which is a lot of money, don't get me wrong. But for me to go through a season, put my body through what it goes through during a season at my age, I'm not going to play for that, you know, not for the Bears at least. So we made a counteroffer and that was never acceptable to them. They said, basically, "Our offer is one year, 2 million." It was an ultimatum, basically. It wasn't really an offer. It was: Either sign or we don't want you.
On whether the Bears could have put incentives into the offer
BU: We tried that, too. We tried that and ... they said, "This is what we have. Take it or leave it." And, obviously, I left it.