Robbie Gould: Bears take 'big risk'

Updated: July 26, 2012, 12:29 PM ET
By Jeff Dickerson | ESPNChicago.com

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Chicago Bears kicker Robbie Gould believes it would be a "big risk" for the team to allow star linebacker Brian Urlacher to test free agency after the season.

"I think that's a big, big risk to take personally," Gould said Wednesday on "Training Camp Tonight" on ESPN 1000. "When you have a guy like Brian, who first of all is the face of the organization ... our best leader in our locker room and still playing at a high level of football, I think it's very tough to roll the dice.

"He's not going to be the type of guy that's going to be like 'You got to give me an X amount.' He wants to stay in Chicago, he wants to win a championship. He's not going to be asking for everything you can possibly think of in a contract because he's just not that type of guy. But I think the biggest thing is, to let him go to free agency and test whether he's going to get a couple million to $500,000 more; why don't you just go get the deal done because you know you have a great leader, you have a great football player and the face of your organization is going to be there for a couple more years."

The Bears and Urlacher sound as if they expect to wait until after the season to discuss a potential contract extension for the eight-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker.

Urlacher is set to earn a base salary of $7.5 million in the final year of his contract with a salary cap hit of $9.7 million. He sat out the entire offseason program to rehab a knee injury he suffered in the Bears' 2011 regular season finale against the Minnesota Vikings, but Urlacher has been cleared to participate in training camp without restrictions.

He recently told ESPN 1000's "Waddle & Silvy Show" he does not anticipate negotiating with the Bears during the season.

"I want to be here, no doubt about that," Urlacher said. "(Bears president and CEO) Ted Phillips said at the NFL owners meetings that they are going to wait until the season is over to address my situation. That's the mindset I'm taking into this. When the season is over, then we'll talk about it.

"I'll be a free agent when the season is over and whatever happens, happens. From everything that Ted Phillips said, I'll be a free agent when the season is over. It's a business. That's the risk you take. If you let a player get to free agency, then they can leave. That's their (decision). They can leave if they want to. That's how it goes."

Bears general manager Phil Emery was noncommittal when pressed about the subject of Urlacher's contract on Tuesday.

"I'm content to focus on the team's movement toward its goals," Emery said. "Each and every contract situation is unique in of itself, and what we do as a personnel department, along with the coaches, is keep our eyes on the big picture. Our big picture right now is to get on the field and earn our place in the NFL everyday.

"I've had good conversations with Brian. That's a fine human being and obviously one of our top team leaders. Brian Urlacher has been a great Bears (player) and a great NFL football player. So yes, I've talked to him, and I'm excited about Brian and this season and our team."

Last summer the Bears dealt with a messy contract situation with respected veteran center Olin Kreutz who eventually left the team for the New Orleans Saints before retiring four games in the 2011 regular season. The hope is the Bears can avoid a similar drama down the line with Urlacher, but Gould said these types of expiring contracts can be tricky for both sides to negotiate.

"It could get ugly, there is no doubt about it," Gould said. "Unfortunately, that's the business of football. Obviously, the biggest thing is staying healthy. His knee is fully recovered, so we don't have to worry about that. We just need to use him the best way we possibly can ... not to run him down in training camp.

"I think it will get ugly, but it's going to get ugly for a couple of years with a lot of different players. There is a lot of work the Bears have to do and potentially hard decisions they are going to have to make, and I'm just glad I'm not the general manager that has to make those decisions."

Jeff Dickerson | email

Chicago Bears beat reporter
Dickerson has been the Bears beat reporter for ESPN Chicago since 2004. He also hosts weeknight radio shows on ESPN 1000.