Urlacher told the team’s flagship radio station WBBM-AM in Chicago that he was not shocked that it came to this.
“I am definitely not surprised. I kind of had this feeling this whole offseason with the way the whole thing was being handled,” Urlacher said. “We made an offer, the Bears asked us to make an offer early, so we did. Never heard back from them. They made an offer, we responded to their offer and it was more like an ultimatum is what it was. It was, Sign this contract or we are going to move on. And I didn’t feel like that was the direction I wanted to go.”
The parting with Urlacher is just the latest change in what’s been a busy offseason for Chicago.
The Bears fired coach Lovie Smith after a second straight late collapse left them out of the playoffs for the fifth time in six years, although they did finish with 10 wins.
They replaced him with the offensive-minded Marc Trestman, hoping he could get the most out of quarterback Jay Cutler, and addressed two major issues in free agency by signing left tackle Jermon Bushrod from New Orleans and tight end Martellus Bennett from the New York Giants.
Trestman also said that the Bears wouldn’t change much from the cover-2 scheme they ran under Smith, but he offered what seemed like lukewarm endorsements when asked in recent weeks about Urlacher.
Now, they’re parting ways. And the Bears have big holes to fill at the position.
Their only starting linebacker under contract is Lance Briggs. Strong side linebacker Nick Roach — who also saw time in the middle — signed with Oakland.
It’s not clear what’s next for Urlacher. He had said he wanted to return to the Bears and had posted pictures on Twitter in recent weeks indicating he was working his way back into shape, but whether he will latch on with another team remains to be seen.