His agents did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.
Urlacher sprained his medial collateral ligament and partially sprained the posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during the 2011 regular-season finale against Minnesota and hasn’t been the same since then.
He barely participated in training camp, had an arthroscopic procedure in mid-August to relieve the swelling, and spent most of the season trying to regain his old form.
Then, he came up lame in coverage on the second-to-last snap of the Bears’ overtime loss to Seattle in early December, an injury that ended his season and his tenure with the Bears.
Former Bears defensive end Alex Brown said it was a “sad day” on Twitter and called Urlacher the “best football player I have ever had the pleasure of stepping on the field with.”
A safety with lightning speed, the 6-foot-4 Urlacher initially lined up at strong side linebacker for the Bears but lost the job to Roosevelt Colvin. He made the switch to middle linebacker during his first season when Barry Minter was injured and went on to become the NFL’s defensive rookie of the year, the start of a long run that saw him anchor a defense that consistently ranked among the league’s best.
Now, his run with the Bears is over.
Asked what he’ll miss the most about his time in Chicago, Urlacher told WBBM, “The No. 1 thing is my teammates. I am going to miss them the most.”