PHOENIX — Two years ago, the Bears concluded the NFL annual meetings by sending out a press release titled: “Bears unable to reach agreement with [Brian] Urlacher for 2013.”
It was an unceremonious end for Urlacher. It also was the start of an undeniable rift between team and star, which has been mended by chairman George McCaskey and the Bears’ regime change.
At this year’s meetings, McCaskey promised the same won’t happen with linebacker Lance Briggs and cornerback Charles Tillman, if the team moves on from the two long-time stalwarts.
General manager Ryan Pace and coach John Fox haven’t publicly stated their intentions for Briggs and Tillman, who have been with the Bears for 12 seasons. Both players have said that they want to retire as Bears.
“Anytime a player leaves the team you want to make sure that it’s handled in a respectable manner and that’s even for an undrafted rookie who’s there for three weeks of training camp,” McCaskey said while seated in a courtyard at the Arizona Biltmore. “These are human beings, these are people. They’re working their butts off trying to make the team. So you want to handle it in a dignified and respectable manner.
“So if somebody’s had a distinguished, yeah, that’s certainly with Charles and Lance, you want to be properly respectable of their accomplishments and let them know, if it works out, great, and if it doesn’t work out that, as far as we’re concerned, they’ll always be Bears.”