Now that Brian Urlacher is leaving the Chicago Bears, a number of possibilities have opened up for where the linebacker could end up next.
Urlacher and the Bears parted ways this week after 13 seasons together. New Bears head coach Marc Trestman said he tried to keep Urlacher on the roster, but the two sides couldn’t seem to come to a deal.
“We were unable to reach an agreement with Brian and both sides have decided to move forward,”Bears general manager Phil Emery in a statement released Wednesday. “He showed great leadership and helped develop a winning culture over his time with the Bears. We appreciate all he has given our team, on and off the field. Brian will always be welcome as a member of the Bears.”
Urlacher joins a number of other long-tenured defensive players to depart their teams this offseason. Ed Reed and Ray Lewis both left Baltimore (Lewis by retirement), and Dwight Freeney left Indianapolis.
Though Brian Urlacher is likely closer to the end of his career, there are still several teams that could use him both for his play and his influence in the locker room.
Those that might have the most to benefit are the contenders in need of just a bit more. The Atlanta Falcons could use an upgrade at middle linebacker, and the Baltimore Ravens suddenly have holes to fill in their linebacking corps after the departure of Ray Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe.
The Broncos are another possible destination. Urlacher could be used to give some guidance to the team’s younger players would be a good fit to replace fellow vet Keith Brooking.
The Cincinnati Bengals could also use Urlacher’s play, especially after losing Manny Lawson to the Buffalo Bills. And the Bills still have a lot more to do to shore up their linebacking corps as well.
After 13 years, Urlacher isn’t leaving the Bears on great terms. The linebacker described the Bears offer as a “take it or leave” gesture, and said the team’s public attempts to keep him were just lip service.