Charles Tillman may have played his last game as a Chicago Bear, and making matters even more depressing for Monster of the Midway loyalist is the fact he may now be headed south to Tampa Bay and a reunion with former coach Lovie Smith.
The Chicago Tribune is reporting the veteran Pro Bowl cornerback is more than open to a second run with Smith, even though the Bears are on record in expressing a desire to rework an agreement on the nearly $8 million deal he played the 2013 season under.
“I’m not really worried about it,” Tillman, who played in just eight games nursing triceps, groin and knee injuries in 2013, told The Tribune. “I have some decisions I have to make in the next couple of weeks, couple of months. I am just going to see what happens. I have some options, I have some thoughts.”
The soon-to-be 33-year-old Tillman broke Donnell Woolford’s franchise record for most career interceptions by a cornerback in 2012 with 33 and has now increased his total to 36. With that, Woolford now readily admits he feels sort of a kindred spirit with his franchise legacy successor.
“The decision is very difficult,” said Woolford. “You want to turn back the clock when you have been around for a while and your body starts to break down. You have to prepare for life after the games. It was difficult for me and I am sure it will be difficult for ‘Peanut.’ We all think we are invincible. It is a rough sport and eventually it will wear your body down.”
All at the same time, Tillman welcomes and shies away from the challenge. “This is the first time in my life that I have had to make a decision like this,” he said. “I am just looking to see how it plays out. I’m not stressing. I’m not worried.”
But no matter what happens, his way of life could be changing. Speculation is growing that no matter where he lands Tillman may be asked to convert from cornerback to safety. Tillman, who has 40 career forced fumbles, thus far has balked at that idea. Woolford can relate.
“They wanted me to do that and I told them no,” he told The Tribune. “As a safety, you have to come up into that box. Now you ask the man who played corner, who is not used to having that physical play on a down and down basis … you are asking a guy to get into the box and pound big guys two times his size when you have to shed a block and take on a running back. It would be worse on his body. I don’t think it would be fair to his body.”