McCaskey, Brian Urlacher talk
DES PLAINES, Ill. -- Chicago Bears chairman George McCaskey talked with Brian Urlacher for the first time since the team parted with him and said the star linebacker, who was bothered that he hadn't heard from the team, was "gracious" during their phone conversation.
"I talked to him," McCaskey said Tuesday. "He was very gracious. I wanted to wait a little bit because I figured there would be a little emotion. But Brian knows how we feel about him. He's one of the all-time great Bears. (He) continued the outstanding linebacker legacy at the Bears. He's going to be in the Hall of Fame, and when he is, everyone is going to think of him as a Chicago Bear."
The Bears announced March 20 that they were breaking off contract negotiations with the eight-time Pro Bowler. Urlacher voiced his displeasure that no one from the organization contacted him directly before the team issued a news release stating the two sides were unable to reach an agreement.
"I would have appreciated a call from, maybe not [Bears general manager] Phil [Emery], but George or somebody else I've been around," Urlacher said March 22 on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN Chicago 1000. "I haven't been around Phil; he's been here for one year so I don't know him all that well, but [a call] from somebody else in the organization I've been around for a long time [would have been appreciated]."
McCaskey said he sensed no bitterness coming from Urlacher.
"I didn't hear anything along those lines from Brian," McCaskey said.
McCaskey always has been regarded as one of Urlacher's top supporters in the organization. He said prior to the start of free agency that he wanted Urlacher to return for a 14th season, a message he reiterated Tuesday when he met with a handful a reporters outside the club's annual Ed Block Courage Award luncheon at Maryville Academy in suburban Chicago.
"I said going into the process that I'd be heartbroken if he didn't come back, and I am," McCaskey said. "Our whole family is. Brian has just been the face of the franchise, an outstanding Bears (player), on and off the field, but we knew it was a possibility going into it that it might be this result. That's the way it turned out."
Urlacher said his camp submitted a contract proposal for $11 million over two years and later came down to $3.5 million per year. He said there was no negotiation with the Bears and were told the organization wouldn't budge from a one-year, $2 million offer.
Urlacher remains without a team, and while the Bears signed free-agent linebackers D.J. Williams and James Anderson, McCaskey didn't entirely close the door on Urlacher eventually coming back to the Bears. But it would be hard to imagine the Bears offering Urlacher any more than the one-year deal that was on the table when talks broke down.
"That's up to the market, and to Phil and [Bears coach] Marc [Trestman]," McCaskey said. "Phil said it's a process, and we go through it and see what happens. That's not up to me. Bears fans should be assured I don't involve myself in personnel decisions."
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