Last season, the Chicago Bears were without cornerback Charles Tillman for a total of eight games. It’s no secret that the defense was a depleted unit without Tillman, Lance Briggs and Henry Melton for the majority of the year – Melton being out nearly the entire season. This offseason, the Bears have a decision to make.
It was thought, originally, that the Bears would have to choose between their free agent cornerbacks in Tim Jennings and Tillman. Chicago has already re-signed Jennings, thus bringing up the question: What will they choose to do with Tillman?
At the moment, they do not have the cap room to offer him anywhere near his $8 million salary from a season ago. The Bears do have the option, though, to release guys like Julius Peppers and Michael Bush – saving them over $15 million when it’s all said and done. If they were to do so, Tillman’s contract would be all but imminent.
Recently, Tillman told 670 The Score that he feels he will retire as a Bear.
“I guarantee I will retire a Chicago Bears. I guarantee that.”
The 32-year old corner still has plenty left in the tank, if he can stay away from the injury bug. A year ago, in a full season, Tillman forced 11 fumbles by himself. Since entering the league, he has forced a league-high (for defensive backs) 42 fumbles as well as totaling 36 interceptions. Tillman is no stranger to taking the ball away and getting it into the end zone, either, with eight career defensive touchdowns.
Similar to last year, Chicago may have to make a decision on a long-time veteran of the team. Not to say he’s nearly important to the team as Brian Urlacher was, but Tillman’s leadership in the secondary and his ability to still take the ball away at his age is second to none. He is an invaluable piece of the Bears defense, at least until they find a long-term replacement.
If Chicago’s defense is to improve on what they did a year ago, Tillman needs to be retained. He’s by far and away one of their most crucial pieces on the team, offense or defense. He sounds willing to work with the Bears, but will they be willing to do what it takes to bring him back?