Urlacher had a very disappointing 2012, one in which he dealt with a knee injury that severely limited him on the field. For most of the season, he was a shell of himself, never able to chase ball carriers to the sidelines and unable to plant on his knee to fight off blocks.
Pro Football Focus graded Urlacher the worst defender, by far, on the team last year. Still, the Bears are in a tough spot, with Urlacher, Nick Roach and Geno Hayes - three of the club's four top linebackers - all set to hit free agency.
With just Lance Briggs under contract, the Bears don't have the luxury of letting walk the face of the franchise since 2000. There's no one to replace Urlacher, so even though he's no longer the player he once was, he'll have to do for a little bit longer.
Urlacher made more than $9 million last season and will obviously be taking a huge pay cut. Expect it to be a short-term deal, possibly for just one season, at less than half his 2012 salary.
By keeping Urlacher, the Bears have the option of drafting and grooming a young linebacker under the eight-time Pro Bowler, with the plan for the youngster to eventually take over permanently at MIKE.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.