Urlacher's contract is set to expire after this season, his 13th in Chicago. At 34 years old, he hopes to finish his career with the team that drafted him, but the celebrated linebacker said Friday he's open to testing the free-agent waters after this season.
"I think (Bears president) Ted Phillips said they are going to wait until the season is over to see what happens -- how I play," Urlacher told WMVP-AM on Friday. "It's kind of exciting. I've never been a free agent. So, if I can get to free agency, we'll see what happens.
"I no doubt want to finish my career here. There's no doubt about that. But if you bring in free agency you never know what can happen. You know, the Bears know I want to be here. I've said it publically and that's not going to change. Whatever happens during the season or after the season, we'll address it then."
Urlacher has targeted training camp for his return from a severely sprained knee. He said Friday he might join the team for OTAs, but the front office wants to see him play through the season. The Bears don't dish out money for sentimental reasons (see: Matt Forte) and they aren't about to top the $7.5 million Urlacher will receive in 2012. He is one of the game's grittiest defenders, but he turns 35 after this season. The market for late-30s linebackers remains unrewarding, a fact that could ultimately keep Urlacher in Chicago -- but not before he plays the field.