Now that the Bears have completed a deal with running back Matt Forte, the next deals on tap to take care of are for quarterback Jay Cutler, whose contract expires after the 2013 season, and linebacker Brian Urlacher, who becomes a free agent after this season, Michael C. Wright of ESPNChicago reports.
Urlacher, 34, said in June that “(team president) Ted Phillips said when they had the owners meeting they’re gonna wait until the (2012) season is over (to address the contract situation).”
But given Urlacher’s stature as the face of the franchise, and the fact he continues to produce at a high level (made 135 tackles in 2011), it’s unlikely the team won’t exhaust every effort to re-sign him. Going into his 13th season, Urlacher enters the final year of a five-year extension signed in 2008 that will pay a base salary of $7.5 million.
“The Bears know I want to be here. I’ve said it publicly, and that’s not gonna change,” said Urlacher, who also admitted to being intrigued by the prospect of free agency. “Whatever happens during the season or after the season, we’ll address it then. They know I want to be here, and I think they want me here.”
Cutler’s contract situation, meanwhile, could prove more a little more difficult and costly for the Bears to address. Cutler’s current deal runs through 2013. But in three seasons with Cutler at the helm, the Bears have produced only one winning season, with 2011 going down as somewhat of a mulligan because he missed six games with a thumb injury.