Recently one of the best linebackers in NFL history decided to call it a career and hang up his cleats. Brian Urlacher had an amazing career that took him from an All-American safety at New Mexico and made the successful transition to inside linebacker in the Tampa 2 scheme in Chicago.
After the 2012 season, the writing was on the wall for Urlacher and there was some noise circulating that the Bears weren't too motivated in bringing back a player who was the centerpiece of their defense since he was drafted ninth overall back in 2000.
"Any time you’re talking about a Hall of Fame player in Urlacher, you don’t ever dismiss Hall of Famers, in my book," Jones said Monday at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix. "It would be difficult – he obviously plays whatplays – to move everything around for a year. Doesn’t really make a lot of sense."
"But at the same time, you don’t ever rule anything out."
With Sean Lee in the middle, it really didn't make a lot of sense for Dallas to financially pursue the services of the aging linebacker.
One theory that was considered included Urlacher coming in to mentor Lee in the new 4-3 scheme that Monte Kiffin was bringing to Big D. The only problem is, Sean doesn't need much help learning a defense or teaching his teammates. For such a young player, he's already a valuable piece to the defense and his leadership qualities have always been there.
Since being drafted back in 2010, Lee has battled a variety of injuries and unfortunately there isn't a middle linebacker behind him on the Cowboys' roster that can fill in and take his place. We may never know if Urlacher was willing to take a reduced salary to become the backup to Lee, but he did make it clear that Dallas was a place he wanted to be.
"If I could have picked a spot, it would have been Dallas," said Urlacher, who grew up a Cowboys fans. "They run our defense. They took our d-coordinator (Rod Marinelli). That would have been ideal. But they have two really good young linebackers."
As of right now, there really aren't a lot of options on the roster behind Lee at Mike linebacker. Rookie DeVonte Holloman will probably get some looks at all three positions, undrafted free agent Brandon Magee is my personal favorite to back Lee up but he lacks NFL experience and then there is veteran Ernie Sims who filled in last year and played solid football for us.
If you look over that list and don't exactly feel comfortable, then you're not alone. Adding another Mike linebacker was on my pre-draft priority list, but the position was never really addressed.
We shouldn't close the door on Urlacher yet, but when asked about a possible Michael Jordan return to the game he loves, it sure sounded like he is going to stay retired.
"First of all, Michael was like 30 when he (first) did it, and it was basketball, not football," Urlacher said. "It’s a little different for us. ... I’m done."
An reunion of Urlacher and Marinelli would be a great for all parties involved. The question is, can the linebacker still play at a high level? At worst he gives the Cowboys experience and depth, but there is some concern that Urlacher has lost a step. He's retiring for a reason, he knows that physically he probably can't hold up and he wants to go out on his own terms.
In an era where there doesn't seem to be a lot of love for the Dallas Cowboys, at least one future Hall of Fame linebacker wanted to take his talents to America's Team. Let's tip our hat to Brian Urlacher, a great player and person who changed his position.