According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the team announced on Wednesday that it was unable to reach a contract agreement with Urlacher and the two sides will part ways:
Bears announced they were unable to sign LB Brian Urlacher and are moving in another direction.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 20, 2013
Speaking with Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Sun-Times, Urlacher went over the negotiation process. He told McClure that the Bears offered just a one-year, $2 million deal and refused to budge:
Just got off the phone with Brian Urlacher.Said Bears gave him a take it or leave it offer of one-year, $2 million.— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) March 20, 2013
``It was a ultimatum, not a negotiation,'' Urlacher said. ``I wanted to be in Chicago. I wanted to finish here.''— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) March 20, 2013
This may seem like a shock, but the writing has been on the wall regarding Urlacher's departure for some time. Looking for a two-year deal, which could very well finish his illustrious career, Urlacher heard little but radio silence coming from the team ever since free agency started.
Yahoo! Sports' Michael Silver was the first to report that Chicago had no "prevailing sense of urgency" to sign Urlacher. What's more, the team had even balked at countering Urlacher's initial offer to return, per the Chicago Tribune's Vaughn McClure.
From a pure football perspective, the Bears may be moving on from Urlacher at the perfect time. The 34-year-old linebacker (35 in May) struggled with injuries throughout the 2012 season, missing the team's final four games with a hamstring injury. He finished the campaign with 68 total tackles, two forced fumbles and an interception.
What the counting stats fail to indicate is how far Urlacher's skill set has fallen, especially against the run. Once one of the NFL's most feared middle linebackers, Urlacher was a noticeable detriment to Chicago's otherwise top-shelf run defense.
According to Pro Football Focus' (subscription required) advanced measurements, Urlacher was the Bears' worst run defender on the team—and it wasn't even close. He also measured up as the team's worst overall defender.
With Urlacher looking for a multi-year deal—a legacy contract, in other words—Chicago arguably made a sound decision football-wise.
What's going to cause the most scorn in the Windy City is the legacy Urlacher will leave behind.
Bears letting Brian Urlacher walk: Good or bad move?
Drafted in the first round out of New Mexico in 2000, Urlacher became the latest face of a lasting Bears' tradition at middle linebacker that includes Dick Butkus and Mike Singletary, among others. He's the Bears franchise's all-time leading tackler with 1,358 and led the Bears to a Super Bowl XLI appearance.
Urlacher is a living legend to Bears fans of the last decade, essentially as intertwined with the city as deep-dish pizza.
This is a move that may make the team better in 2013, but the Bears should undoubtedly expect a ton of outcry from upset fans in the coming days.