Hurd was arrested on Wednesday night at Morton's The Steakhouse in Rosemont, Ill., and the criminal complaint against him describes the receiver as regularly dealing large amounts of drugs in Chicago.
"There's been a wrong and we've acted. We have a track record of doing that," Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said. "Unfortunately a situation arose that caught us off guard, but we are to the point where we are going to do the right thing. And the right thing is to cut Sam Hurd."
The NFL said Friday that it is not aware of other players involved in the case.
League spokesman Brian McCarthy said that the NFL is closely monitoring the case. Asked about a report that authorities have a list of NFL players with a connection to Hurd, McCarthy said: "We are not aware of such a list."
Hurd's defense attorney Brett Greenfield told reporters that his client planned to fight the charges and wanted one thing made clear.
"Sam has asked me to address one point, with respect to the rumors that Sam has been supplying drugs to other members of the NFL, out of respect to the NFL, out of respect to teammates and out of respect to other players, he 100 percent denies that allegation," Greenfield said. "It is patently and totally false. It just didn't happen."
Hurd was arrested Wednesday night after authorities said he agreed to buy a kilogram, or 2.2 pounds, of cocaine from an undercover agent. A criminal complaint says Hurd, a sixth-year player in his first year with the Bears, wanted to set up a drug-distribution network in the Chicago area and that he took possession of the cocaine before being arrested.
U.S. Magistrate Young Kim ordered Hurd to surrender his passport and any firearms. Hurd is expected to be tried in Texas, where the criminal complaint was filed this week by the U.S. attorney.
Hurd, who appeared in court in an orange jumpsuit with his feet shackled, waived his right to a preliminary hearing, meaning the next step is for prosecutors to take their case before a grand jury. Several members of Hurd's family, including his wife, mother and brother, attended the hearing but he didn't appear to look at them, even as he was led out of the room. He was later released after posting $100,000 bond.
Angelo said the Bears did their research on Hurd, like they do with all of the players they target, before they signed him as a free agent over the summer.
"When we do our homework on players, we have a very sound and tested methodology that we go about researching all players from college to veteran free agents, and it starts in college," Angelo said. "We spend an inordinate amount of time on character, making sure we know the player as well as we can. But no system is foolproof.
Authorities say Hurd faces up to 40 years in prison and a $2 million fine if convicted of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine, or half a kilogram.
Bears coach Lovie Smith said that Hurd's situation shouldn't tarnish the reputations of his teammates.
"You have to trust people. We're always gonna start off doing that. We have a great group of guys, but sometimes when you're dealing with this many, it's hard to have all of the players be a certain way," Smith said. "But you can't let that scar what else we're getting done here. Every once in a while a guy will go outside what's best for the football team, and there are consequences that you deal with. That's how life goes. There are life lessons being learned here by our football team."
Shock over Hurd's arrest has been reverberating around the league.
"I sure was sad to hear that," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Friday on KRLD-FM. "That's not good for obviously him and his [family] but certainly for his extended friends and associates. We'll see how this unfolds as we get more information on it.
"He was always an exemplary player for us, an exemplary person and citizen. You could just count on him at all times."
Hurd signed a three-year deal on July 30 that included a signing bonus of $1.3 million and was set to pay him base salaries of $685,000 in 2011, $865,000 in 2012, and $1 million in 2013.
Just the day before signing the deal, he was interviewed by Homeland Security agents after one of Hurd's associates was pulled over in a car he owned with $88,000 in cash in a bag that tested positive for the presence of marijuana.
That was the beginning of the investigation that resulted in Wednesday's arrest.
Michael C. Wright covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.