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Bears noncommittal on re-signing Urlacher

Published: Thursday, March 14, 2013 12:25 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, March 14, 2013 10:37 a.m. CDT
Caption
In this Monday, Nov. 19, 2012 photo, Chicago Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher (54) runs the field against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half of an NFL football game in San Francisco. Most of the big names hitting NFL free agency in 2013 aren't big stars anymore. While Ed Reed is coming off a Super Bowl season in Baltimore and Wes Welker catches 100 passes every year, this crop is more about aging defensive players such as Charles Woodson, Urlacher and Ronde Barber. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

LAKE FOREST – The Bears will be on a tight spending budget for remaining free agents after signing Martellus Bennett and Jermon Bushrod this week, general manager Phil Emery said Wednesday.

“There’s not a lot of room to wiggle,” Emery said.

But there always is room to negotiate.

The Bears have approached unrestricted free agent Brian Urlacher about re-signing with the team, Emery said, but he would not divulge how far (if at all) those talks had progressed.

“It’s a process,” Emery said. “It’s going to have to be slow and well thought out.”

Regardless, the Bears will have to bolster their depth at linebacker before the start of next season. Urlacher and Nick Roach are free agents, while Geno Hayes signed a two-year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars after spending last season on the lakefront.

That means Lance Briggs, Blake Costanzo and J.T. Thomas are the most experienced linebackers on the Bears’ current roster. Costanzo and Thomas have served primarily as special teams contributors.

First-year coach Marc Trestman said he liked what he had seen of Urlacher’s game film.

“I think that Brian is a very, very capable player,” Trestman said. “I’m excited about him being part of this football team if that happens, certainly.”

Whether that happens is anyone’s guess.

“I’ve had a number of discussions with Brian,” Trestman said. “We’re very respectful of his position, obviously, as it relates to this team and to the community. We know that.

“I’m going to give you the same answer that I’ve given you that it’s going to be an ongoing process. When it’s time to let you know what’s happening, we’ll detail it out for you.”

Have a seat: Emery said he met with offensive lineman J’Marcus Webb after the player’s arrest downstate on drug charges, which later were dropped.

Webb, 24, issued an apology via his Twitter page several days later.

“We definitely sat down and talked to J’Marcus,” Emery said. “We definitely let him know what our expectation level is and what our standards are, and we certainly expect that he will work diligently in meeting those expectations and standards and continue to compete for his job and add to the team.”

After signing Bushrod to play left tackle, the Bears expect Webb to move to the other side of the line and compete for a starting job at right tackle.

Familiar face: Bushrod offered high praise for Aaron Kromer, his longtime position coach with the New Orleans Saints and the new offensive coordinator and offensive line coach for the Bears.

“He’s probably a major factor of why I’m here,” said Bushrod, who was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2011 and 2012. “We established a good relationship over the last three, four years.

“He’s working me. He’s seen the lows, he’s seen the highs. He’s familiar with me; I’m familiar with him. When I found out this is one of the places I could end up, it was a no-brainer.”

Bears bits: Emery indicated that he would be open to trading down in next month’s NFL draft to accumulate more picks. The Bears have the No. 20 overall pick of the first round. … The Bears released tight ends Kellen Davis and Matt Spaeth, which could mean a bigger role for second-year tight end Evan Rodriguez along with Bennett.

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