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Thursday, March 7, 2013
Dealings between Urlacher, Bears in limbo

By Jeff Dickerson

CHICAGO -- Negotiations between pending free agent middle linebacker Brian Urlacher and the Chicago Bears are in a holding pattern after Urlacher’s agents submitted a contract proposal to the organization on Thursday and await a counter offer, according to a report from WFLD-FOX 32 in Chicago.

The exact amount Urlacher’s camp is seeking is unknown, although it is likely to be less than the $7,500,000 base salary (plus $500,000 workout bonus) the middle linebacker earned last season, when he counted $9,700,000 against the club’s salary cap.

Urlacher’s overall performance declined in 2012 due to knee and hamstring problems, which limited him to 12 regular-season games. Unlike last offseason, however, Urlacher seems to be in relatively good health heading into the free-agency period.

Urlacher has posted several pictures and videos of himself training in Arizona, the site of his offseason residence, on his official Twitter account (@BUrlacher54) the past couple of days.

League sources at the NFL combine said the Bears, in particular the new coaching staff, wanted Urlacher back, but that compensation would be the key issue when it came to negotiating a contract with the 34-year-old linebacker. The Bears also plan to attempt to re-sign starting strong side linebacker Nick Roach, who could be in line for an expanded role on defense even if the Bears finalize a deal with Urlacher.

If the Bears and Urlacher are unable to reach an agreement before Tuesday at 3 p.m. CT, the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year will test free agency for the first time in his decorated 13-year career.