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Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Brian Urlacher wants Bears return

ESPNChicago.com

As he prepares for free agency for the first time, a healthy Brian Urlacher says he "for sure" wants to play a 14th season, and he hopes that will be with the Chicago Bears.

"Chicago is my home. ... Whether I play for the Bears or not, that's my home," Urlacher said Tuesday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN Chicago 1000. "I want to be there and hopefully we can work something out, but if not I'll go somewhere else."

Urlacher dealt with injuries during his 13th season in Chicago. He had a slow recovery from a knee injury suffered in the last game of the 2011 season, and a knee scope during training camp set him back further. He played 12 games this season before a hamstring injury sidelined him for the final four games. Urlacher said Tuesday he would have been able to play in the playoffs if the Bears had qualified.

Urlacher said his knee feels good and still believes he can "play a little bit" after a frustrating 2012 season.

"I have no questions about that," Urlacher said. "At times I felt like I was playing pretty well. I was just so inconsistent. It was frustrating for me too as a player ... I was never really in football shape. It was very frustrating for me to be out there and just not be able to do what I normally do. I think I can get back there, though, just through training in the offseason and practicing. Gosh, I missed so much practice last year. It was frustrating."

After nine seasons playing in former coach Lovie Smith's defense, Urlacher has backed off comments in which he said he wanted to play only for Smith, who has decided to sit out the 2013 season after failing to land a head-coaching job. New defensive coordinator Mel Tucker ran a similar defense in Jacksonville.

General manager Phil Emery and new coach Marc Trestman were noncommittal when asked over the past month about Urlacher's Bears future. Urlacher said he understands the Bears' front office has "more important things to take care of right now" and isn't concerned that he hasn't heard from them. Free agency begins March 12.

Urlacher, who will be 35 by training camp, acknowledged that a pay cut is "fair" for a player of his age.

"When you look at my age, it's going to be hard to not give them a discount," Urlacher said. "I'm not going to make what I was making in the past, how about that? Does that make sense? That's fair."

Asked if he could envision a painful sight for Bears fans -- Urlacher wearing the green and gold of the rival Green Bay Packers -- Urlacher said: "I've never thought about it, but the way things go now in the NFL, the ways guys jump around on teams, I guess nothing is out of the realm these days. I never pictured that, but you never know what's going to happen. ... You definitely don't want to say yes to that question because I don't think that's a possibility. Even if it was, I don't know that I would want to do that, to tell you the truth."