Bears Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Tillman was surprised when he learned that Brian Urlacher's tenure with the team was over Wednesday evening.
"I don't think anyone ever saw him playing for another team or not playing for the Bears," Tillman said. "I'm shocked like everyone else.
"He was the heart and soul of our team - the defense especially - and he will be missed. I wish him the best. I didn't want to see him go. He still has juice left in the tank."
Tillman said he believes Urlacher can still play 16 games, but he admitted that the business side of football can make things complex.
"The more you understand this game as a business and not let emotions crowd your judgment, the better off you'll be. But it's hard at times," he said. "I just hope that their vision and plan is the right one so we can move forward as a team."
Tillman said he's partial to veterans and, if he were a general manager, he'd sign Urlacher.
"But every GM does their own thing, and Phil [Emery] is doing what he feels is right," Tillman said. "Hey, they don't pay me to make those decisions. They pay me to play."
Tillman said Urlacher can't be replaced.
"Whomever they bring in, that person has to create an identity for himself and not try to be Brian Urlacher and be in his shadow," Tillman said. "Just be yourself and be your own player."
Tillman, though, was excited about the offensive additions, namely Martellus Bennett and Jermon Bushrod.
"I'm on the defense. But if they can help us win, I'm all for it," he said.
As for Urlacher, Tillman said he'd remain a close friend.
"Whether he's a Bear, a Viking, a Bronco, a Packer, or a Raven, we're still friends at the end of the day," Tillman said. "He's no longer a teammate, but he's still a great friend of mine.
"He represented the organization well, he represented Chicago well, and he represented himself and his family well. I definitely think he'll go on to a new team. Whatever team lands him, they're going to get a great leader, great locker room guy, and a great person."