The Bears released the following statement regarding Urlacher's decision:
Over the last 13 years Brian Urlacher has been an outstanding player, teammate, leader and face of our franchise," Bears chairman George H. McCaskey said in March after the team had announced that it was unable to reach a contract agreement with Urlacher.
As Bears fans, we have been lucky to have such a humble superstar represent our city. He embodies the same characteristics displayed by the Bears all-time greats who played before him and he will eventually join many of them in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
We thank Brian for all he has given our team and our city. He will always be a part of the Bears family. We wish him the very best.
Taken by Chicago with the ninth pick in the 2000 NFL draft, Urlacher spent his entire career with the Bears, earning eight Pro Bowl selections and the 2005 AP Defensive Player of the Year award.
Over the course of his career, Urlacher became one of the most feared run-stoppers in the NFL, wreaking havoc in the middle of the Bears’ defensive front seven and giving opposing offensive coordinators nightmares.
The five-time All-Pro linebacker recorded 1,229 combined tackles, 41.5 sacks, 12 forced fumbles, 22 interceptions and two defensive touchdowns in his career.
If that’s not Hall of Fame worthy, nothing is.
As great as Urlacher’s career in Chicago was, the Bears made the contentious decision not to re-sign the former face of the franchise and move in another direction this offseason (via Adam Schefter of ESPN):
Bears announced they were unable to sign LB Brian Urlacher and are moving in another direction.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 20, 2013
Contract demands and declining performance—hamstring injury or not—likely factored into Chicago's decision to part ways with him.
Urlacher will go down as one of the best middle linebackers of his generation.