Money talks in the NFL, and both teams sent a clear message with their offers to the future Pro Football Hall of Famers: We no longer want you on the team.
I don't really blame either team.
The NFL is a brutal business that succeeds in large part because it's so brutal. The salary cap forces these types of decisions, especially in 2013 after years of the cap barely moving up. In baseball, teams can afford to be sentimental at times with contracts. They can pay a tax on a player's big name. (Derek Jeter, anyone?)
It doesn't work like that in football. Players generally get paid what they are worth or they get released from their non-guaranteed contracts. That's why I never blame a player like Reed for pursuing every lost dollar on the free-agent market. There is virtually no loyalty from teams to players, so there's no reason to have loyalty the other way around.
The Ravens and Houston Texans both said plenty with their offers to Reed, as well. Even though the Texans landed Reed, their initial offer reportedly was around $4 million per season over three years. The Ravens' offer was even less. Reed's agent might puff up his final price, but my guess is that it doesn't include much guaranteed money.
Those offers say -- despite all of Houston's southern hospitality -- that the Texans and Ravens see Reed as a declining player who is an average NFL starter at best. Glover Quin and LaRon Landry both received vastly superior offers in free agency. Quin was Houston's first choice at safety; Reed was a backup option for the Texans.
The Texans were willing to pay a little extra for Reed's experience and ball skills. The Ravens were ready to make a clean break from the Reed-Ray Lewis era and gave him no extra money for name value. At least Baltimore's offer indicated that they still thought Reed could play a little bit.
It's hard to blame Urlacher for walking away from a one-year, $2 million offer. That's the contract you give to a player that might not make the team, and might be a backup if he does make the team. That's an offer you make when you want a player to walk away.
It was unnecessary for the Bears to talk openly about wanting to bring back Urlacher for weeks just for public relations purposes. They would have been better off just being honest, and parting ways without all the drama.
They didn't want Urlacher back. The contract offer did the talking for them.Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.