At least one former NFL general manager expects a market to materialize soon for eight-time Pro-Bowl free agent middle linebacker Brian Urlacher.
Ted Sundquist, who spent seven years as the general manager of the Denver Broncos and the man responsible for drafting ex-Broncos Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall, told ESPN 1000's "Chicago's Gamenight" show on Tuesday he believes interest in Urlacher will begin to pick up around the league once teams begin to shed certain veteran players for salary cap purposes after June 1.
When a player with multiple years remaining on his contract is released after June 1, only the prorated bonus money for that upcoming season counts against that year's salary cap in the form of dead money. The rest of the remaining prorated bonus money accelerates onto the following year's salary cap.
Sundquist thinks Urlacher, who turns 35 later this month, will be a viable option for teams that free up additional cap space before training camps begin in July.
"I think once we get past that June 1 cut where a lot of teams are going to let some guys go because of cap reasons and there is going to be some street free agents out there, clubs are going to be focusing again on where they can find good, veteran talent that I can bring in at a bargain price," Sundquist said. "When I say bargain price, I say something that fits with their cap situation as they head into training camp. I think Urlacher is going to get mixed into that group. I think a lot of clubs right now are waiting to see who is going to be released after June 1 and then they'll make their moves on high name veteran players before they enter into camp."
Sundquist said he would strongly consider signing Urlacher if he were running a team that still had a need to fill at inside linebacker following the NFL Draft.
"Absolutely, I absolutely would," Sundquist said. "Now, is Brian Urlacher the same guy he was a number of years ago? No. But he brings a savvy, an understanding, an instinct and a hard-nose style of play that you can build around. I look for players at this particular point in their career to raise the level of other players around them. So yes, I would (take a strong look at him)."
One club to express interest in Urlacher in the weeks leading up to the draft was the San Diego Chargers, but that was before the Chargers used a second-round pick on former Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o. A return to Chicago seems less likely than ever after the Bears added four new linebackers to the mix (D.J. Williams, James Anderson, Jon Bostic and Khaseeme Green) after the team broke off contract negotiations with the future Hall of Famer in March.