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Tuesday, April 16, 2013
GM: No regrets over Brian Urlacher

By Jeff Dickerson
ESPNChicago.com

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery said Tuesday he "absolutely" had no regrets over how the club handled the negotiations with linebacker Brian Urlacher, who became a free agent after the team ceased contract talks March 20.

The Bears' best and final offer to Urlacher was a one-year deal that maxed out at $2 million.

"It was a very straightforward process," Emery said. "We had a very honest and open exchange between Brian and his representatives, his agents. There was no lack of clarity. There were no surprises during this period. You know Brian has been a great player. He's a Hall of Fame player. He's done great things for the Chicago Bears.

"It's been a win-win as far as Brian and the Chicago Bears. That's been a great [relationship] for the city of Chicago, for our fans and for the Bears. It's also been good for Brian. We've committed more resources to Brian than any Bears [player] in the history of the organization. We were willing to commit more. In the end, we just could not agree on what that amount was. It's no more than that."

Urlacher, who spent all 13 of his NFL seasons with the Bears, said during a March 22 appearance on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000 that he would have appreciated a phone call before the Bears sent out a news release announcing negotiations had ended.

"I would have appreciated a call from, maybe not Phil, but [team chairman] George [McCaskey] or somebody else I've been around," Urlacher said. "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 did talk with Urlacher later and said he had wanted to give him time after the announcement. McCaskey said recently the team had not officially ruled out the idea of Urlacher returning, but the organization seems to have moved forward. Not only did the Bears sign a pair of veteran linebackers in free agency, D.J. Williams and James Anderson, but the organization has hosted several notable linebacker draft prospects on official visits the past couple of weeks.

"[I've] earned a lot of gray hairs over the years; those are years and experiences that teach [me] never to say never," Emery said. "But certainly our focus is on the roster that we have on the field and moving forward with our team, and using that roster and our talents and our resources to develop championships. That is where our focus is at."

Urlacher remains unsigned. There is a school of thought that a market could develop for the middle linebacker following the April 25-27 NFL draft, when teams have a clearer picture of their rosters.