Brian Urlacher - Free agent - I always assumed that Brian Urlacher would end his career with Chicago, just like the two iconic Bears middle linebackers before him. Now, after his injury plagued 12th season, there's a distinct possibility that Urlacher will be allowed to walk as a free agent.
Starting the season off not fully recovered from his knee injury hampered his conditioning the entire season, and I think that's what ultimately led to his hamstring problem. If healthy, I see no reason why he couldn't contribute to the 2013 Chicago defense, but the Bears would have to really kick the tires on him this off season.
Pro Football Focus wasn't very kind to his 2012 season, as he ended up as the 44th graded inside linebacker in the NFL. His overall -11.2 was hurt by his -13.5 against the run. The one silver lining in his grades was the 3rd best +6.7 he had in pass coverage, and the 5th best QB rating against his coverage of 74.6.
I'd like to see him return on a one or two year deal, but the new regime has yet to tip their intentions.
Lance Briggs - Signed through 2014 - Let me just get this out of the way early, I think Briggs was robbed of a Pro Bowl appearance this season. He had an outstanding year, and if it wasn't for all the 3-4 edge rushing OLBs stealing up the spotlight, Briggs would have been in his 8th consecutive Pro Bowl.
The PFF numbers had Briggs as the 3rd best 4-3 OLB in football, although their number one guy, Von Miller, plays more of the 3-4 edge rushing style as evidenced by his 18.5 sacks. His +12.1 overall grade was actually the 7th best OLB grade in all of football.
Nick Roach - Free agent - I think Roach is a solid football player, but he's not the kind of player you break the bank over. His experience and versatility adds value, but if the Bears intend to spend the #20 overall pick on a linebacker I think they let Roach walk.
As a middle linebacker, PFF had Roach with a neutral 0.2 grade in 276 snaps, and as the strong side OLB, he was a -2.7, good for 28th place. While patrolling the middle of Lovie Smith's zone, Roach had a better QB rating against rank than even Urlacher did. In fact, of those ILBs with over 200 snaps, Roach had the 2nd lowest QB rating against at 58.8.
Chicago Bears 2013 Roster Turnover: Linebacker
Windy City Gridiron | Feb 19