Brian Urlacher made two things abundantly clear Tuesday.
He wants to play football next season. And he wants to do so with the Bears.
Urlacher, who will be an unrestricted free agent when the new league year starts March 12, addressed questions about his future during an interview with the “Waddle & Silvy” show on WMVP-AM 1000. He said his knees felt pain-free and he was fully recovered from a hamstring injury that cost him the final four games of the regular season.
Although Urlacher said he has not yet spoken with the Bears about returning for his 14th season on the Lakefront, he repeated his desire to remain with the team that drafted him No. 9 overall in 2000.
“I want to be a Bear,” Urlacher said. “That’s all there is. I want to play for the Bears. That’s my first choice.”
Asked whether he expected a difficult negotiation, Urlacher chuckled.
“Honestly, I have no idea,” Urlacher said. “I’ve never been in this situation before. I have no idea. I haven’t pictured anything. I don’t know how the process works.
“I’ve been lucky. The Bears have done me early before I’ve gotten to this point [of being a free agent] in my career. So I don’t know. I have no idea, honestly.”
Urlacher also addressed the possibility of giving a hometown discount to the Bears.
“It’s going to be hard to not give them a discount because of my age, obviously,” said Urlacher, who will turn 35 years old in May. “Not a lot of teams are going to want to do a whole lot, I don’t think. …
“I’m not going to make what I was making in the past. How about that? Does that make sense?”
Despite an injury-shortened season, Urlacher finished fourth on the Bears with 88 tackles in 2012. He added seven pass break-ups, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and an interception that he returned for a 46-yard touchdown against the Tennessee Titans.
But it remains uncertain whether the Bears will want to re-sign Urlacher or whether they will seek a fresh start at middle linebacker under a new coaching regime. Urlacher said he had yet to speak with new head coach Marc Trestman, and he wasn’t positive what type of scheme that defensive coordinator Mel Tucker would prefer in his new role with the Bears.
Based on Tucker’s tenure as defensive coordinator with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Urlacher guessed that the Bears’ defense would follow a familiar blueprint as it has for many seasons.
“I think they were very similar to our defense down there, so I’m assuming that’s what he’s going to try and do,” Urlacher said. “We have the personnel to do the same things they did down there. We’re a 4-3, they’re a 4-3, so I think it would be pretty similar.”
Whether Urlacher remains part of that scheme is another question.
At least for now, Urlacher doesn’t know the answer.
He said he was at peace regardless of what happened next.
“Either way, I’ll be good,” Urlacher said. “I’d like to play there. If not, I can move on.”
Ultimately, Urlacher said, money would not be his deciding factor.
“No, it’s not,” Urlacher said. “I mean, Chicago is my home. I’m going to be there whether I’m playing for the Bears or not. That’s my home.
“So, I want to be there, and hopefully we can work something out. But if not, then I’ll go somewhere else.”