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Bears part ways with veteran Urlacher
The Chicago Bears are parting ways with veteran linebacker Brian Urlacher after 13 years.
General manager Phil Emery said Wednesday that the team couldn't agree on a contract with Urlacher, for years the heart and face of the franchise. He is now a free agent after being slowed by a knee problem and then missing the last four games of the season with a hamstring injury.
"We were unable to reach an agreement with Brian and both sides have decided to move forward," Emery said in a statement. "Brian has been an elite player in our league for over a decade. He showed great leadership and helped develop a winning culture over his time with the Bears. We appreciate all he has given our team, on and off the field. Brian will always be welcome as a member of the Bears."
The 34-year-old Urlacher, an eight-time Pro Bowl player, started 180 games from 2000 through 2012, recording a team-record 1,779 tackles. The ninth overall selection in the 2000 draft has 41.5 sacks, 22 interceptions, 16 fumble recoveries and 11 forced fumbles. He was the AP's defensive player of the year in 2005 and helped lead the 2006 team to the Super Bowl.
"Over the last 13 years Brian Urlacher has been an outstanding player, teammate, leader and face of our franchise," chairman George McCaskey said. "As Bears fans, we have been lucky to have such a humble superstar represent our city. He embodies the same characteristics displayed by the Bears all-time greats who played before him and he will eventually join many of them in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. We thank Brian for all he has given our team and our city. He will always be a part of the Bears family. We wish him the very best."
Eli considers reworking contract for Cruz
Quarterback Eli Manning will consider reworking his contract if it will help keep leading receiver Victor Cruz on the New York Giants.
The two-time Super Bowl MVP indicated Wednesday at a sponsor event that the Giants haven't asked him to redo his contract to open cap space. However, he said he would consider anything that helps the team.
"I want Victor back with the Giants," Manning said, adding that he checks the newspapers every morning to make sure that Cruz has not signed with another team.
"It is nerve-wracking. He is anxious. He has been dealing with this contract issue for a long time, last year and into this year. I know he wants to get this settled and get back to playing football, and just worrying about that."
The Giants recently allowed Cruz to enter restricted free agency, placing a first-round tender ($2.87 million for 2012) on the popular local product from Paterson, N.J., which is about 10 miles from MetLife Stadium.
New York has the right to match any offer he receives. It would receive a first-round draft choice as compensation if he leaves.
Cruz recently dumped his agent and signed with Tom Condon, Manning's agent. Manning quipped that he has even sent Condon a couple of texts regarding the talks between Cruz and the Giants.
Realistically, Manning said he has not interfered in the talks between Cruz and the Giants. He has talked with Cruz, but it was more the usual offseason stuff about how are things going and telling him to be ready to go to work on April 15 when offseason training starts.
Manning is not opposed to reworking his contract, which runs through 2015. His cap value will be close to $21 million this season.
Freeney, Abraham set to visit Broncos
The Denver Broncos are set to talk with free agent pass rushers Dwight Freeney and John Abraham on Thursday, 48 hours after they submitted a new contract proposal to Elvis Dumervil.
Freeney, 33, and Abraham, 34, are both older and less productive than Dumervil, 29, but might make financial sense for the Broncos, who had to cut Dumervil last week to avoid paying him $12 million in 2013.
Dumervil's then-agent Marty Magid and the Broncos renegotiated a three-year, $30 million deal Friday that included an $8 million 2013 salary, but the paperwork didn't get done in time.
So, the Broncos cut Dumervil and took a nearly $5 million salary cap hit. They submitted a new offer this week to Dumervil and his new agent, Tom Condon, who also represents Freeney.