The Chicago Bears have a history of great linebackers over the years—Dick Butkus, Clyde "Bulldog" Turner, Bill George and Mike Singletary to name a few. And for more than a decade, Chicago fans have witnessed another great linebacker, with Brian Urlacher leading a resurgence of the Monsters of the Midway.
On Tuesday, Urlacher, who is entering his 14th season in the NFL, said during an interview on the Waddle and Silvy show on ESPN 1000 in Chicago that he wants to play in Chicago and is willing to take a pay cut because of his age (via ESPN). But there is a chance that he could find himself on the free-agent market.
Urlacher will be 35 when the 2013 season kicks off, and health has been an issue over the last three seasons. He was hampered with a knee injury for a good portion of last season, but still managed 68 tackles and one interception. In addition, Urlacher's 2009 season ended after the season opener in Green Bay when he suffered a broken wrist.
If healthy, many fans believe that Urlacher should be able to retire as a Chicago Bear.
One of the biggest concerns with Urlacher's situation is his salary. He made $7.5 million in 2012 and it would be hard to give him that kind of salary again with the recent injuries.
Urlacher has also lost a bit of speed when covering running backs. He can still deliver a good hit and provide good coverage, but he is on the decline from when he was a first round draft pick in 2000.
Chicago needs to have a veteran core at the linebacker position as they look to develop for the future with general manager Phil Emery and new head coach Marc Trestman. But the future cannot rely on Urlacher and Lance Briggs, who will enter his 11th season next year. And it's not known if the Bears are planning to resign Nick Roach, who will enter his sixth season.
There have been talks about rookie Shea McClellin being moved into the middle linebacker position to replace Urlacher. If that's the case, I think the Bears should try to sign Urlacher for at least one or two more seasons and help ease the transition of McClellin from defensive end.
Or, keep Urlacher to help develop a rookie from the upcoming draft in April.
Either way, if the Bears can get a good enough discount for Urlacher, it would be a plus for the future development of the team and to continue building towards immediate success.