Brian Urlacher didn't wait around to see if a market for his services would ever develop, but up until Wednesday when the middle linebacker announced his retirement, many in league circles believed it was only a matter of time before a team signed the soon-to-be 35-year-old defender. Why? Because certain NFL talent evaluators, including the Bears' front office, were of the mindset that with a healthy offseason of training under his belt, Urlacher still had the potential to be an effective player in 2013. Former Denver Broncos general manager Ted Sundquist said two weeks ago on ESPN 1000's “Chicago's Gamenight” that he expected interest in Urlacher to start picking up after June 1 when teams are in a better position to free up additional salary cap space before heading to training camp in July. "Absolutely, I absolutely would (take a hard look at Urlacher)," Sundquist said. "Now, is Brian Urlacher the same guy he was a number of years ago? No. But he brings a savvy, an understanding, an instinct and a hard-nose style of play that you can build around. I look for players at this particular point in their career to raise the level of other players around them. So yes, I would (take a strong look at him)." But Urlacher didn't sound comfortable with the prospect of just being an OK player this fall. When a person achieves a level of greatness at his or her profession over a long period of time, anything less than great results are usually deemed unacceptable. Urlacher conceded to ESPN 1000's “Waddle and Silvy Show” that his problematic knee “felt great," but he seemed to partially base his decision to retire on the reality that he would never be the same player he was before the injury at the end of the 2011 regular season. “My knee feels great, finally,” Urlacher said. “This is the first I got to work out and not just do rehab. ... But I can look at myself in the mirror and say 'There's no way I'll be the player I used to be, or what I think I need to be out there.' Mentally? Yeah, I have it. But physically, I'm not what I used to be. There's no doubt about that. My knee is never going to be the same. I saw that last year, even when I started getting better. I'll never be able to move like I want to. ... I can't do what I want to do and it's frustrating.
Did Urlacher call it quits too soon?
ESPN | May 23