Chicago Bears' general manager Phil Emery wasted no time making drastic changes to his team. In the first day of his team's off-season, Emery relieved Bears' head coach Lovie Smith of his duties. He is now faced with another decision that could drastically change the Bears, as linebacker Brian Urlacher will be a free agent after the Super Bowl.
Though Emery won't speak about contract negotiations with Urlacher, he did tell the Chicago Sun-Times that Urlacher improved throughout the season, as the franchise icon recovered from knee surgery.
"Coming back from the injury, there was a time he looked a little rusty," Emery said. "He admitted that himself in public. There was a time that he got better, that he got his feet back under him. Certainly he showed - like in the Seattle game - that he still has a burst. He chased Russell Wilson up the sideline, and he was the only one to get to him.
Urlacher appeared in just 12 games for the Bears this season, missing the final four because of a hamstring injury. In 12 games, Urlacher registered 68 total tackles, forced two fumbles, recovered two fumbles and intercepted a pass.
Emery will be faced with a difficult decision regarding Urlacher, since the linebacker will turn 35 next May. Still, if Chicago's general manager truly believes Urlacher's play improved as the season went on, it seems likely that Urlacher will once again anchor the Bears defense in 2013.