Bears release defensive end Brown
"I enjoyed my time, and I appreciate the Bears for giving me the opportunity to play," Brown told the Chicago Tribune on Thursday morning. "The city of Chicago, there wasn't a better place to spend eight years of football. I got to see a lot of highs and lows and had a lot of fun with all of it."
Brown, 30, had two years left on his existing contract and was due to collect $10.5 million in those final two seasons.
Once word got out last week that the Bears were planning to move forward without the popular veteran, it became increasingly difficult for the organization to find any trade partners. Teams knew if they waited, Brown would end up as a free agent.
Before Brown became aware of the Bears' intentions, a source said his agent approached the team a little more than a month ago about a contract extension. The Bears immediately shot down the request, sources familiar with the situation told ESPNChicago.com.
"But that first day when they told me, it was tough," Brown told the Tribune. "I had spent so much time there. I understand it is a business, but that doesn't make it not tough.
"My teammates, they understand it's a business. If we play long enough, it's going to happen to everybody. I'm not going to sit here and throw anyone under the bus and say they said this isn't the right thing for the Bears do to. Maybe there are some different opinions, but that's OK. We're all going to be fine."
Brown recorded six sacks last season, second on the team to fellow defensive end Adewale Ogunleye, another free agent who won't return to the Bears in 2010.
"I believe I can play four or five more years, I mean good years," Brown told the Tribune. "Shoot, over the last four, five years I have been so close to having the magical number  everyone looks for as far as sacks.
"As far as what I have been doing, I'm in my prime still."
When the Bears signed free agent Julius Peppers and announced they would move Israel Idonije to defensive end, while touting the potential of Mark Anderson, it became clear Brown was considered expendable.
"Mark played very well last year, and he can be that good and better this year," Brown told the Tribune. "Moving, that is one of the thing Izzy has needed to figure out, where he is going to play and now he's gotten a boost of confidence from the coaching staff so he can focus on that.
"I'm really flattered people have been saying stuff about the team missing me. We changed players like crazy over the last eight years. The Bears will move on."
Brown finishes his Bears career with 43½ regular-season sacks, 55 tackles for a loss, five interceptions and 16 forced fumbles. Known for playing through pain, Brown suited up for 127 consecutive games, missing just one game during his tenure in Chicago.
The defensive end was named a first-team alternate for the 2006 Pro Bowl, and a second-team alternate in 2007.
Jeff Dickerson covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com.
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