The Chicago Bears and their all-time leading tackler, Brian Urlacher, have parted ways after failing to agree on a contract.

The Bears made the announcement on Wednesday, sending the 34-year-old linebacker into free agency for the first time in his career.

"Brian has been an elite player in our league for over a decade," Bears general manager Phil Emery said. "He showed great leadership and helped develop a winning culture over his time with the Bears. We appreciate all he has given our team, on and off the field. Brian will always be welcome as a member of the Bears."

Urlacher, an eight-time Pro Bowl selection, was the Bears' first-round pick (ninth overall) in the 2000 draft and has totaled 1,779 tackles, 41 1/2 sacks, and 22 interceptions during his career.

The University of New Mexico product won the Rookie of the Year award and was named the Defensive Player of the Year in 2005.

Urlacher played 12 games last season due to injuries, only the third time in his 13-year career he did not play the full slate of games.