What Does Brian Urlacher and the UIC Flames Have In Common?

They both made big headlines across Chicago today. First with the major story of the day……




Major news coming out of Halas Hall today that could have a huge effect on the Chicago Bears future. After 13 seasons of wearing the orange and blue, Brian Urlacher has decided to leave the Bears franchise and test the free agent market. Many Bears fans took to Facebook and Twitter expressing their outrage.

While it may be disappointing to the 4th Phase, I had a feeling this move was coming for quite some time. I ask you, the Bears fans to put your anger aside and try to understand what was at play here. The Bears are in salary cap hell right now. They don’t have a whole lot of financial room to work with and because of this, D.J. Moore was not re-signed and Kelvin Hayden was released.

Henry Melton got the franchise tag, and they just signed free agents Martellus Bennett and Jermon Bushrod to moderate contracts. Israel Idonije is still unsigned, Lance Louis is gone, Nick Roach is now in Oakland, Geno Hayes went to Jacksonville, Chris Spencer is hoping to re-join the team as is Amobi Okoye, back up quarterback Jason Campbell is a unrestricted free agent, Kellen Davis and Matt Speath were cut to make room for Bennett {because of their poor play while in a Bears uniform}, Nate Collins was brought back for a smaller price, Turk McBride was signed today, and Josh McCown and Kahlil Bell are also free agents.

So here is the list of 2012 players who are free agents:

DE Israel Idonije

OL Chris Spencer

DT Amobi Okoye

QB Jason Campbell

QB Josh McCown

RB Kahlil Bell

Here’s the dilemma, Idonije wants a big contract and the Bears are not in a great position to do that. They are hoping to re-sign him for less. The Bears may draft an offensive lineman or two or sign a couple from free agency. Chris Spencer had a difficult 2012 season so the Bears could most likely look elsewhere. The jury is still out on Amobi Akoye, Jason Campbell would require a decent price to re-sign, I would not be surprised if Josh McCown goes somewhere else, and how do you spend money on a guy who’s been signed, cut, the re-signed again multiple times? I’m referring to Kahlil Bell of course.

The Bears just don’t have the available funds to bring back all of these players thanks to the salary cap. This is why Brian Urlacher has left town. The Bears offered him a two year contract for $1 million per year with another $1 million guaranteed. Urlacher was looking for a two year deal worth $5 million per year.

Again, taking Urlacher’s proposal mixed with the current salary cap status, this would prevent the Bears from bringing back Idonije or Campbell. Another thing to consider is that Brian Urlacher will be 35 this year. The last couple of seasons saw #54 struggle with numerous injuries, a telling sign that he is getting older.

His speed has also declined slightly, and Urlacher has said that football is starting to take a toll on his body. You put all of that together and it makes bringing him back almost impossible. There is no doubt that Urlacher has made his mark as a hall of famer and a Bears legend. Simply put, it’s time to move on. So now the Bears have to decide what to do with Urlacher’s spot.

Of course they could grab a free agent but how much are the Bears willing and able to spend in that department? The other option would be to draft a new middle linebacker. Could Phil Emery end up taking Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o in April? Only time will tell….

The other story of the night has some historical implications…..

CIT logo

For the first time in school history, the Illinois-Chicago Flames have won a postseason basketball game. Yes you heard me correctly…. Even though they did not get into the NCAA or NIT, they did get into the College Insider Tournament. Tonight they hosted Chicago State at the UIC Pavilion.

CSU had made it’s own history coming into tonight’s game. For the first time in the history of their program, they won their conference tournament, a conference championship, and made their first postseason tournament. But their fun would be short lived as the Flames had way too much talent and depth for Chicago State to handle.

Daniel Barnes got his first career double-double with 22 points and and a career high 10 rebounds. Gary Talton had 12 points with 8 assists, Josh Crittle and Hayden Humes scored a combined 32 points. Quinton Pippen, Matt Ross, and Jamere Dismukes all scored in double figures for the Cougars.

CSU even outscored UIC 39-34 in the second half, but it just wasn’t enough. UIC advances to the second round with an 80-69 win. Their next opponent is still to be announced. Chicago State can still hold their heads high and now they finally have something that they can pitch to high school recruits. And that’s pretty big considering they share the same city as Northwestern, DePaul, and Loyola.

Earlier today I joined the “Cooley and Chivari show” on Sports Town Chicago. Here is the link to that podcast:

This Saturday night, I will be at the Allstate Arena covering the Chicago Rush’s home opener against Iowa. Kickoff is at 7pm and tickets are still available. You can get Rush updates from me on Twitter @GabeSalgado82 #Q101Sports #REDemption


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