As Brian Urlacher prepares for his 13th NFL season, it also could be his final one with the Bears.
Urlacher, who turned 34 on Friday, celebrated his birthday by proclaiming in a radio interview that he may give free agency a whirl in 2013.
“I think [Bears president] Ted Phillips said when they had the owners meeting they’re gonna wait until the season is over, Urlacher said Friday on WMVP-AM 1000, via the Sports Xchange. “See what happens, how I play. It’s kind of exciting. I’ve never been a free agent. So if I can get to free agency we’ll see what happens.
“I no doubt want to finish my career here. There’s no doubt about that. But you bring in free agency and all that you just never know what’s gonna happen.”
What’s going to happen, if Urlacher becomes a free agent, is that he’ll learn the veteran market for linebackers won’t support the $7.5 million base salary he’s due to earn from the Bears in 2012, especially as he closes in on his 35th birthday. And when Urlacher realizes that a 35-year-old middle linebacker won’t attract the same interest as a 35-year-old franchise quarterback, he’ll likewise realize that the Bears will pay him more than anyone else.
That may be precisely what needs to happen before Urlacher feels as good as he can about the next contract the Bears will put on the table.
If, of course, the Bears decide to even do that.