Pondering NFC East Brian Urlacher fits

March, 22, 2013
3/22/13
10:20
AM ET
Getting a lot of Brian Urlacher questions, which is what happens whenever a really famous player gets cut. Fans want to know if he makes sense for their teams. I think there's only one NFC East team for which he makes sense, and I think it's the New York Giants.

You can cross off the Eagles and Redskins right away. Urlacher's value is as a 4-3, leader-of-the-defense middle linebacker. The Redskins run a 3-4, have plenty of linebackers and no cap room with which to sign him anyway. And while nobody knows exactly what the Eagles are going to do, it seems safe to say they won't be using a traditional 4-3 alignment. And even if they did, they have DeMeco Ryans for the middle.

[+] EnlargeBrian Urlacher
Dennis Wierzbicki/US PresswireThe only NFC East team that seems a good fit for Brian Urlacher is the Giants, and they have yet to show interest in the ex-Bears linebacker.
Now, a lot of Dallas Cowboys fans are asking about Urlacher, and their name has come up. But I think this is largely because the agent seems to want to keep the Cowboys alive as a possibility (as agents very often do) and because Jerry Jones is unpredictable. But Stephen Jones was asked directly about Urlacher the other day at the owners meetings in Arizona, and here's what he said:

"You're talking about a Hall of Fame player here, and you don't ever dismiss Hall of Famers in my book. But obviously it'd be difficult. He plays what Sean [Lee] plays, and to move everything around for a year doesn't really make a lot of sense. But at the same time you don't ever rule it out."

That's a pretty polite way of saying, "No, thanks." Sean Lee is a fantastic young player likely to thrive as a playmaking middle linebacker in Dallas' new 4-3 scheme. And even if your concern about Lee is that he gets hurt too much, it's hard to see how a late-career Urlacher who missed four games himself last year due to injury is the insurance policy the Cowboys need for that. The only factor that keeps this possibility alive is that Jerry Jones might have a different (and less reasonable) perspective on it than Stephen Jones does. And that could always carry the day.

But in terms of actual sense, Urlacher's only NFC East fit is the Giants. He'd provide a presence in the middle of their mediocre linebacking corps -- certainly offering more than recently signed Dan Connor would. He's a veteran for a veteran locker room. He surely would like to go to a contender, and the Giants always are that. The Giants are the one place in this division where he'd fit. The only question is whether they're interested, and to this point they do not appear to be. So I'd be surprised to see Urlacher in the NFC East, in answer to many of your questions. But I have of course been surprised before.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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