Former Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher spent 12 seasons as the face of Chicago’s favorite franchise. Urlacher was an eight-time Pro Bowler, Defensive Player of the Year in 2005 and a team captain for one of the NFL’s strongest defensive units.
The Bears announced that Urlacher would not return to Chicago on March 20 after his worst statistical season that featured four missed starts. Now, the heart and soul of the Bears’ defense is a free agent looking for a job.
Even though Urlacher is no longer an All-Pro middle linebacker, his career in the NFL is not over. There are 31 other teams outside of Chicago, and many of them should at least express interest in his services. Urlacher can play a role not only as a leader, but more importantly as a consistent football player as well. He’ll provide depth and experience to a defense that is willing to take a chance on him. The only concern a general manager should have at offering a small contract is the injury bug a 35-year-old player will likely sustain over the course of a 16-game NFL season.
The Vikings have a history of signing former Green Bay Packers. Why not make it an NFC North trend? In all seriousness, the Vikings run a version of the Cover 2 defense that Brian Urlacher would fit nicely in. Minnesota also needs a middle linebacker after the departure of Jasper Brinkley.
Middle linebacker is an extremely important position, especially with two prolific passing offenses that play in the same division in the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions. The Vikings cannot afford for their middle linebacker position to be a major question going into the 2013 regular season. Brian Urlacher might not provide Minnesota with a superstar linebacker. However, he will solidify the position for a season or two while other options open through the NFL draft, free agency or within.
The Giants run a base 4-3 defensive that Urlacher would fit nicely in due to his experience in Chicago. New York had one of the league’s worst defenses last season, ranking 31st. Urlacher’s would bring experience and leadership to a unit that obviously needs some sort of guidance.
The Giants defense was arguably one of the most inconsistent units in the NFL last season. Their inconsistency possibly came from the lack of veteran leadership. The Giants are only getting younger on defense. They released Chris Canty and Michael Boley following the 2012 season and let Osi Umenyiora walk. Urlacher’s presence will solidify the middle of the field for one or two years and he will bring leadership the Giants’ have not seen on defense since the departure of Micheal Strahan in 2008.
Even though the Giants had an extremely disappointing season in 2012, they will still be considered a contender in 2013. Last week, Urlacher told the Dan Patrick Show (h/t ProFootballTalk), “I’m an old fart, so I want to go in there and win." New York is a place where Urlacher can win. At this stage of his career, he wants to contend. The Giants can provide him that.
Denver was the top seed in the AFC playoffs in 2012. Urlacher said he wanted to go to a team and win games. What would be better a fit than a team that already features the league's second ranked defense?
Urlacher would also be an upgrade over last year’s starter Keith Brooking, who is currently 37. Urlacher will be 35 at the beginning of the 2013 season. He still has production to provide to a contending team. He would provide the Broncos a serviceable option while they either draft a younger middle linebacker or develop from within.
If both sides want to improve their current situations, coming to an agreement for Urlacher to play for Denver in 2013 would be the best option.