Forgive me, Packers fans, I’m about to stick up for the Chicago Bears.
(*The author pauses for a moment to put on his bullet-proof vest, change the locks on his home, and take a deep breath*)
I have no problem with the Bears one year, $2 million contract offer to Brian Urlacher. I’m actually insulted that Urlacher called the offer “insulting.”
Football is a business. Good teams make roster decisions not to reward once-great players or keep local heroes around to appease the fanbase. Football has been trying to teach us this lesson over and over again, but most people will never learn it, or simply refuse to even try to learn it.
Urlacher was a free agent for the first time in 13 seasons. He’ll be 35 years old in May and he missed the last month of the 2012 season with a hamstring injury.
In the 12 games that Urlacher did play, Pro Football Focus graded him out positively in only three of them. He finished with an overall season grade of -11.3. Pro Football Focus is not the be-all, end-all of player evaluation, but from what I saw of Urlacher in 2012, a -11.3 seemed generous. I thought he was slow and a shadow of his former self.
Does a $2 million contract offer for a once-great, but now aging player coming off an injury and likely on the downswing of his career really sound that insulting to you?
It doesn’t to me.
To be fair, there are two counter-arguments to this: 1) Urlacher’s leadership means a lot and is worth more than $2 million, and 2) the Bears have next to nothing at middle linebacker now that Urlacher is gone.
I don’t know how much “leadership” is worth, especially for a player who is declining on the field. To me, not very much, but I’m not in an NFL locker room, so who knows?
Yes, it’s true that the Bears now have next to nothing at middle linebacker, but that’s still not a good enough reason to overpay for an aging player. Draft a rookie to develop. Find a younger player who could do what Urlacher did for a fraction of the price. Sign Brad Jones.
Word is, Jones wants about $4 million per season. Would you rather have a 26-year-old Brad Jones for between $3-4 million per season — a young player who could blossom and outperform the contract — or an over-the-hill Urlacher for one season at $3.5 million? (Urlacher reportedly countered the Bears $2 million offer with a $3.5 million offer.)
I’d take the younger guy.
Maybe I’m completely out of it and Urlacher is still a good player. Perhaps some team is going to offer him much more than $2 million. I don’t see it, but it wouldn’t be the first time I’d be wrong about something.
Until that happens, I’m going to stand firm and side with the Bears. A one year contract for $2 million was a fair offer for Urlacher at this point in his career. It was anything but “insulting.”
Now, I can’t end this piece by writing so glowingly about the Bears’ management. Where the Bears do deserve some criticism is how they handled this situation.
The Bears put out a news release announcing the split on Wednesday. I guess this caught Urlacher by surprise.
I wasn’t in the negotiating room when all of this was going on, so perhaps the Bears did propose something like this and Urlacher told them to buzz off, but here’s what I would have done if I were the Bears: Make the $2 million offer, once Urlacher declines, professionally inform him that that’s the best offer he will get from the Bears, leave it up to him how he wants the split announced (tearful news conference? simple news release? leaked selectively to favorable reporters?), move on with life.
Dropping a news release without Urlacher’s knowledge wasn’t cool, if Urlacher is truthful when he says that’s how it went down.
Either way, the Bears still suck. I mean, they really really really really really really suck.
Packers News Notes and Links
- I wrote the Urlacher piece on Thursday morning, before Brad Jones resigned with the Packers for three years and $11.75 million. That’s about what I thought Jones would get. Yes, it’s pricey, but I have little problem with the signing. I like Jones’ versatility. But, man, football is a funny game (I suppose you could say the same about life in general). Six months ago Jones was a benchwarmer staring at free agency. Then D.J. Smith blew out his knee and Jones got a chance to start. He played ok, nothing special, but did enough to earn a major payday. If Smith doesn’t blow out his knee, Jones probably stays on the bench and signs a veteran minimum deal somewhere. Or maybe ends up out of football forever. I’m not saying Jones was rooting for one of his teammates to get hurt, but Smith’s knee injury sure changed Jones’ life.
- Be sure to Vote for the Packers’ Sweet Sixteen – Picking the top 16 players on teh Packers’ roster.
- Jason Wilde was a reporting machine at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix this week. He’s posted several great items at his blog, including this one on Mike McCarthy’s thoughts about DuJuan Harris as a possible starting running back. I love Harris, but is he a starter? Something tells me we’re about to find out.
- With Ted Thompson taking his usual stance on not signing free agents, Tyler Dunne writes about the urgency for the Packers younger players to develop. After you’re done reading Tyler’s story, be sure to check out his latest podcast with colleague Bob McGinn. Tyler and Bob’s podcast is an absolute must-listen for Packers fans.
- Rob Demovsky was also at the owners meetings and wrote about Mike McCarthy challenging his defense to play better in big games. Yes, the defense was atrocious in playoff losses to the Giants and 49ers. There’s no sugar-coating that. But the defense’s struggles are also overshadowing the fact that Aaron Rodgers has also underperformed in both playoff losses.
- John Rehor reminds us that the Trust in Ted mantra still holds true. After you’re done reading John’s post, be sure to listen to this podcast from the Packers Talk Radio Network on Green Bay’s wide receivers and this podcast about various other issues surrounding the Packers.
- Acme Packing Company brings us up to date on what’s going on with Brad Jones. I’d also be interested to know if anyone is sniffing around restricted free agents Evan Dietrich-Smith or Sam Shields.
Non-Packers Links and Other Nonsense
- There is a lot of interesting things going in the word of basketball stats and analytics. Zach Lowe wrote a fascinating piece about it for Grantland.
- Jeff Garlin talking to Will Ferrell for an hour makes for an interesting podcast.
- A professional wrestler is a hardcore Out of the Park Baseball fan. Cool.