Brian Urlacher has been a stalwart on the Bears' defense since the beginning of his career. He's one of the most physically gifted players in Chicago Bears history. Without Urlacher, the Chicago Bears' last Super Bowl would still be 1985.
An all too distant memory.
And yet again, it is Urlacher that may provide the ticket out of the mediocrity that this franchise has been mired in.
It has been an interesting offseason. But one of the most intriguing events in this year's NFL has been the mishandling of Jay Cutler. When the Denver Broncos brass made an all-time blunder with their franchise quarterback, Bears fans began salivating over the possibilities.
Chicago has been a city so desperate for a real quarterback that they have been willing to hang their hopes and dreams on the likes of Kyle Orton, Rex Grossman and sadly even players like Moses Moreno and Kordell "Slash" Stewart. Sad, isn't it?
At least they have been able to take pride from time to time in having a great defense led by a freak athlete named Brian Urlacher. He's meant more to this starving franchise than all four of the previously mentioned QB's combined.
And now, one last time, he may prove his worth to the franchise. A couple of years ago we began hearing how injuries were catching up to the backbone of the Bears defense.
A bad hamstring here, an arthritic back there, and superman was showing signs of mortality. A true Chicago fan will still support the star middle linebacker who single-handedly put the Monsters of the Midway back on the map.
And this Bears fan always will support Urlacher.
But I'm also smart enough to know that it is time to unload Brian Urlacher and his arthritic back. Even though he is still a great talent, the number of impact plays Urlacher makes has dwindled.
Sure, he had some sacks and interceptions in 2007, but most were not true game-changing, impact plays.
Here is the encouraging news, Bears fans. Even though he has just a few years of high productivity left, he still has great trade value. In five years, he'll be retired and remembered as one of the Bears' most loved players.
If he's not retired, his skills will be that of a mere mortal and not the man we love to watch today. So today we take a collective sigh and pronounce, "Bye bye Brian. Thanks for the memories. Thanks even more for bringing us Jay Cutler."
While Urlacher may be gone in five years, 13 years from now Cutler COULD still be a pro-bowl player like Favre, Warner, and Elway were later in their careers. The Bears must find a way to bring Cutler to the windy city.
Urlacher is the key.
So here is the package. Urlacher, Orton, a second, third, and fourth-round pick this year and a second-rounder next year for pro-bowl, franchise quarterback Jay Cutler.
It's never easy to say good-bye to someone who has done so much for your team, but at the risk of sounding harsh, business is business. Chicago finally gets a franchise QB!
Could it happen? As a lifelong Bears fan, I would like to break it down and present my case.
Here's the benefit for each team:
Chicago keeps their first round pick and uses that pick on a WR like Hayward-Bey. That gives them the vertical threat they need and it will help Hester develop as well. Now they have a decent tandem that a great QB like Cutler will make even better.
Adding a receiver in the draft and a franchise QB to a great RB tandem (Forte and Jones) and a very good TE tandem (Clark and Olsen) gives you a pretty good group of skill position players.
Plus, don't forget this, Bears fans: The Bears should have at least a couple supplemental picks in the draft (probably a third round pick). So they will still have a third rounder.
They would have to bring back versatile offensive lineman John St. Claire to make it work because they won't be able to draft an OL in round two in this scenario.
Urlacher will be missed, but there's no doubt Briggs is the man now in Chicago's linebacking corps. And if you are going to pay him the money you have promised, then put the defense on HIS shoulders now.
Denver would save face a bit by bringing in a star like Urlacher and a reliable (but not spectacular) QB in Orton. He could be a pleasant surprise. He has produced just fine when given the opportunity and has had a winning record in both seasons he's started in his career.
There is no doubt there will be a drop off at QB with Orton at the helm in Denver, but three added draft picks in this draft and one next year and an anchor at LB for the next few years is not a bad deal for the Broncos.
They have a few holes to fill and rounds one through four could be the way to do that.
If Denver's front office cannot mend the relationship with their star quarterback, they will have to do something to save face with the hoard of angry Broncos fans. Grabbing Urlacher is the way to do it.
Jerry Angelo, it is time to deal like you have never dealt before. It is time to prove your worth. Brian, thanks for the memories! Thanks for all you have done. I hope they retire your jersey in Chicago.
I'll always track your stats and watch you when I can. You took us to a Super Bowl! We marveled at your athleticism. And you just may bring us our first franchise quarterback...EVER!