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Close your eyes and ears, Bears fans. Brian Urlacher has something silly to say. As his final contract year with Chicago approaches, the Pro Bowl linebacker is allowing himself to consider walking away from the Bears after 13 years. He will be a free agent after the 2013 season, and is unsure if he’ll re-sign.
“I think (team president) Ted Phillips said when they had the owners meeting they’re gonna wait until the season is over; see what happens, how I play (before addressing the contract situation),” Urlacher said on ESPN’s Waddle and Silvy Show on Friday. “It’s kind of exciting. I’ve never been a free agent. So if I can get to free agency we’ll see what happens. I no doubt want to finish my career here. There’s no doubt about that. But you bring in free agency and all that you just never know what’s gonna happen.”
The Bears have been as up and down as any team in football the past six years, but enter 2012 will a scary defense that is anchored by Urlacher. He reached 100 tackles for the 11th time in his career, a franchise record. But he’ll be 34 this year and coming off a serious knee injury suffered at the tail end of last season. He’s healthy and participating in team OTAs at the moment, but will earn a base salary of $7.5 million with a cap hit of $9.6 million. The club itself may decide he’s not worth the investment after this season – something Urlacher is aware of after watching center Olin Kreutz get dumped on a year ago.
Kreutz was a six-time Pro Bowler with a team-high 134 consecutive starts before being allowed to walk after the 2010 season.
“The Bears know I want to be here. I’ve told them that. I’ve said it publicly, and that’s not gonna change,” he said. “Whatever happens during the season or after the season, we’ll address it then. But they know I want to be here, and I think they want me here.”
Urlacher’s departure may affect the team longterm, but Chicago is a 18/1 favorite to win the Super Bowl this year, according to Bovada’s NFL Futures Odds. It is tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers, New Orleans Saints and New York Giants.