Brian Urlacher was supposed to be the only player that was infallible for the Chicago Bears. He was the face of the franchise, a potential Hall of Fame linebacker, and leader of the defense. So when GM Phil Emery decisively ended the Urlacher era by breaking off contract talks early in the off-season, it sent a loud and clear message to the other veterans on the roster that if they start to slip and show their age, they are gone too. Could Pro Bowl corner Charles Tillman be the next man gone?
Tillman and Tim Jennings highlight Chicago Bears free agent class
Given how many players could potentially enter NFL free agency for Chicago in 2014, logic says they will have to at least hand out extensions to a few of them. As it stands three of their four defensive Pro Bowlers could hit the market, highlighted by corners Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings. Together the pair combined for 12 interceptions and 10 forced fumbles in 2012. They were the best corner tandem in the league, bringing a unique blend of skills to the table that other teams struggled to get around. The Bears are hoping to keep those skills in house but they know that won’t be easy. Tillman turns 33-years old next February. Players that age generally don’t get paid the big contracts. A third-straight Pro Bowl might change that but if “Peanut” struggles this season his prospects of getting a better deal than the younger, faster Jennings aren’t likely. The Bears will certainly try to keep him, but if he feels he deserves a better deal then free agency is open to him.
Titans need more than Blidi Wreh-Wilson to help secondary
Why the Tennessee Titans? One thing that is under appreciated about free agent interest is prior experience with a player. No team felt the wrath of Tillman quite like the Titans did in 2012 when he forced not one, or two, or three but four fumbles that helped pave the way to a 51-20 Bears route. Meanwhile Tennessee had one of the worst pass defenses in the league, allowing 247 yards per game. That would explain why they were active in the search for secondary help, signing Bernard Pollard in free agency and drafting Blidi Wreh-Wilson. Still, the Titans likely haven’t solved their problems. While their young corners don’t lack for athletic skill, they do lack experience and leadership. That is another reason Tillman makes sense for them. He has played on great defenses his entire career, knows the work and the study it takes. That kind of veteran presence can have a terrific impact for Tennessee, never mind his tendency to force turnovers.
Charles Tillman wants to finish his career in Chicago, as do thousands of fans. That still doesn’t guarantee anything. If he’s forced to find a new home in 2014, a quick check in with the Tennessee Titans may prove fruitful.