Brian Urlacher has known only one team in his 13-year career.
Since being drafted in the first round of the 2000 NFL Draft, Urlacher has been the heart and soul of the Chicago Bears defense.
On Wednesday, it was announced that the Bears and Urlacher were unable to come to an agreement for a new contract for 2013:
BREAKING: Bears announce they were unable to sign 8-time Pro Bowler Brian Urlacher and both sides have decided to move forward.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 20, 2013
The Bears offered the 34-year-old a one-year, $2 million deal, which Urlacher felt was an insulting offer, thus making him a free agent looking for a new team.
Before the Bears made their offer to Urlacher, the one team that had gotten the attention of the Bears middle linebacker was the Dallas Cowboys, but according to Graziano, the interest isn't there.
Stephen Jones was asked directly about Urlacher the other day at the owners meetings in Arizona, and here's what he said:
"You're talking about a Hall of Fame player here, and you don't ever dismiss Hall of Famers in my book. But obviously it'd be difficult. He plays what Sean [Lee] plays, and to move everything around for a year doesn't really make a lot of sense. But at the same time you don't ever rule it out."
That's a pretty polite way of saying, "No, thanks." Sean Lee is a fantastic young player likely to thrive as a playmaking middle linebacker in Dallas' new 4-3 scheme. And even if your concern about Lee is that he gets hurt too much, it's hard to see how a late-career Urlacher who missed four games himself last year due to injury is the insurance policy the Cowboys need for that. The only factor that keeps this possibility alive is that Jerry Jones might have a different (and less reasonable) perspective on it than Stephen Jones does. And that could always carry the day.
The Cowboys have Sean Lee, which means the Cowboys will pass on Urlacher.
As far as the Giants go, the middle linebackers they have are Mark Herzlich and newly signed Dan Connor.
According to Graziano, Urlacher would be a better presence in the middle than Connor or Herzlich.
But in terms of actual sense, Urlacher's only NFC East fit is the Giants. He'd provide a presence in the middle of their mediocre linebacking corps -- certainly offering more than recently signed Dan Connor would. He's a veteran for a veteran locker room. He surely would like to go to a contender, and the Giants always are that. The Giants are the one place in this division where he'd fit. The only question is whether they're interested, and to this point they do not appear to be. So I'd be surprised to see Urlacher in the NFC East, in answer to many of your questions. But I have of course been surprised before.
The former Bears linebacker played in just 12 games in 2012 and had 68 total tackles, which are down numbers for Urlacher.
Normally, his tackle totals are over 100—something he's had nine times in his 13-year career.
If brought in, Urlacher would give the Giants a solid veteran presence on the field and in the locker room for the younger players to be able to follow.
Plus, Urlacher could bring more to the Giants defense than Connor or Herzlich.
However, as Graziano did mention, the Giants have yet to show any interest in the Bears linebacker.
During the free-agent period, the Giants have been "bargain-hunting" as far as the free agents they have picked up. They did sign tight end Brandon Myers to a four-year deal worth $14.25 million, but only the first year at $2.25 million is guaranteed.
If Urlacher is looking for more in a contract and the Giants wanted to get involved, here's how they could work it.
Offer Urlacher a base salary of $2-3 million and offer another $2-3 million in bonus money, which could make his salary as much as $4-6 million.
However, Urlacher isn't the type the Giants have chased over the last couple of seasons. They tend to build through the draft and normally pass on older veterans at the end of their careers.
If you ask me right now, I'd say the Giants don't pursue Urlacher and will likely try to draft a middle linebacker in April's NFL draft.
Unless Urlacher is looking to take a lot less money to be a mentor on the Giants defense, I wouldn't count on the former Bear trading in the black and orange for blue and white in 2013.
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