After 13 seasons in a Bears uniform, linebacker Brian Urlacher is retiring from the NFL. He announced his decision on his Twitter account on Wednesday.
"After spending a lot of time this spring thinking about my NFL future, I have made a decision to retire," Urlacher said. "Although I could continue playing, I'm not sure I would bring a level of performance or passion that's up to my standards. When considering this, along with the fact that I could retire after a 13-year career wearing only one jersey for such a storied franchise, my decision became pretty clear.
"I want to thank all of the people in my life that have helped me along the way. I will miss my teammates, my coaches and the great Bears fans. I'm proud to say that I gave all of yo everything I had every time I took the field. I will miss this great game, but I leave it with no regrets."
The Bears did try to re-sign Urlacher, offering him a one-year deal totaling $2 million. New Bears coach Marc Trestman even said that he told Urlacher that he wanted him to return.
But the Bears announced on March 20 that a deal could not be reached. In the end, no other teams -- despite Urlacher being linked to the Minnesota Vikings and San Diego Chargers -- were seriously interested in the services of the 34-year-old.
Team chairman George McCaskey spoke to Urlacher after they parted ways.
"Brian knows how we feel about him," McCaskey said April 2. "He's one of the all-time great Bears. He's continued the outstanding linebacker legacy of the Bears. He's going to be in the Hall of Fame, and when he is, everyone is going to think of him as a Chicago Bear."
The Bears took Urlacher with the ninth overall pick in the 2000 draft out of New Mexico. He ends his storied career with legitimate Hall of Fame credentials.
Urlacher, an eight-time Pro Bowler, finishes his career with a franchise-record 1,779 tackles in 182 games played. He had 41.5 sacks, 22 interceptions, 85 passes defended and 11 forced fumbles. He was the NFL defensive rookie of the year in 2000 and the defensive player of the year in 2005.
Urlacher said he was insulted by the Bears' take-it-or-leave-it offer, but general manager Phil Emery said he has "absolutely" no regrets with how negotiations went.
''It was a very straightforward process,'' Emery said before Bears' voluntary minicamp in April. ''We had a very honest and open exchange between Brian and his representatives, his agents. There was no lack of clarity. There were no surprises during that period.
''Brian has been a great player. He's a Hall of Fame player. He's done great things for the Chicago Bears. It's been a win-win as far as Brian and the Chicago Bears. That's been a great happening for the city of Chicago, for our fans, for the Bears. It's also been good for Brian. We've committed more resources to Brian than any Bear in the history of the organization. We were willing to commit more. In the end, we just could not agree what that amount was. It's no more than that.''