Hurd, 27, pleaded guilty in federal court in Dallas to one count of possession of cocaine and marijuana with intent to distribute. His trial was scheduled to begin Monday, and a federal judge had refused his attorney's request to delay it.
Prosecutors and Hurd's attorneys have been in plea discussions for months, according to one of his attorneys, Jay Ethington. One sticking point was what allegations Hurd would acknowledge in a plea agreement, which will factor into his recommended sentence on the indictment, Ethington said in September.
Hurd was a player for the Chicago Bears when was arrested in December 2011 outside a Chicago-area steakhouse after accepting a kilogram of cocaine from an undercover officer, according to documents prosecutors filed in the case. Prosecutors alleged he told the officer and an informant at the steakhouse that he wanted to purchase up to 10 kilograms of cocaine a week for $25,000 per kilogram.
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His arrest shocked his teammates and led to his release from the team.
Months later, he was back in court after failing two drug tests and allegedly trying to arrange another drug buy.
Two men linked to Hurd's alleged attempts to buy drugs have pleaded guilty and were prepared to testify against him.
Hurd played college football at Northern Illinois and then five seasons with the Dallas Cowboys before signing a contract with the Bears in 2011 that was reportedly worth up to $5.15 million.