Chicago Bears: Darrelle Revis

On the eve of free agency last week, our four NFC North reporters -- Rob Demovsky (Green Bay Packers), Ben Goessling (Minnesota Vikings), Michael Rothstein (Detroit Lions) and Michael C. Wright (Chicago Bears) -- compiled a list of the top-15 free agents in the division.

A week has passed and nine of them already have come off the market, including six who re-signed with their old teams.

Perhaps the biggest-name free agent from the NFC North, former Bears defensive end Julius Peppers, did not make the original list because he was not a free agent until he was released last week. He signed with the Packers on Saturday.

You can follow all of the NFL free-agent moves in Bill Polian's free-agent tracker, but let's revisit the NFC North top 15 and see what has changed:

1. Sam Shields, Packers CB: Signed a four-year, $39 million contract just a few hours into the open negotiating period on March 8. His $9.75 million per year average made him the fourth-highest paid cornerback in the league behind Darrelle Revis ($16 million), Brandon Carr ($10 million) and Aqib Talib ($9.8 million).

2. Brandon Pettigrew, Lions TE: Re-signed with the Lions for four years and $16 million, including a $4 million signing bonus.

3. Jermichael Finley, Packers TE: Remained unsigned after a visit to the Seattle Seahawks last week. It’s not known what the Seahawks' medical staff thought of Finley's C-3/C-4 neck vertebra fusion surgery that he had last November following his season-ending neck injury.

4. Charles Tillman, Bears CB: Signed a one-year contract to return to Chicago last Friday after missing half of last season because of a torn triceps. The deal is worth about $3.5 million.

5. B.J. Raji, Packers DT: Less than a year after reportedly turning down a multi-year offer that averaged $8 million per season, he returned to the Packers for a one-year deal signed on Friday that was believed to be worth $4 million plus incentives.

6. Matt Cassel, Vikings QB: Opted out of his 2014 contract after the Super Bowl but signed a new two-year, $10.5 million deal with the Vikings on March 7, just before teams could start contacting his agent and will likely head into training camp with the inside track on the starting job.

7. Willie Young, Lions DL: Signed a three-year, $9 million contract with the Bears. Former seventh-round pick received his first extensive playing time with the Lions in 2013, becoming a full-time starter after Jason Jones was injured for the season in Week 3.

8. James Jones, Packers WR: Remained unsigned after the first week of free agency and has not had any known visits even after he ranked second on the Packers last season in receptions (59) and yards (817), the latter of which was a career high despite missing nearly three full games because of a knee injury. Three years ago, coming off the NFL lockout, Jones did not draw strong interest on the free-agent market and re-signed with the Packers for three years and $9.6 million. Could the same thing happen again?

9. Jared Allen, Vikings DE: Remained unsigned after the first week of free agency but reportedly visited the Seattle Seahawks over the weekend. After three All-Pro selections in six years, Allen's time in Minnesota is over.

10. Josh McCown, Bears QB: Signed a two-year, $10 million contract to rejoin his old coach, Lovie Smith, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

11. Henry Melton, Bears DL: Coming off a torn ACL, Melton went unsigned during the first wave of free agency but has a visit scheduled with the Dallas Cowboys this week.

12. Devin Hester, Bears KR: Remained unsigned more than a week after the Bears said they would not bring him back.

13. Rashean Mathis, Lions CB: Remained unsigned after playing in 15 games and taking over as a starter early in the season last year.

14. Everson Griffen, Vikings DE: Cashed in on March 9th by signing a five-year, $42.5 million deal that included $20 million guaranteed to return to Minnesota.

15. Louis Delmas, Lions S: Signed a one-year, $2.25 million contract with the Miami Dolphins after the Lions released him with one year remaining on his contract in February, in part because of a cap number of $6.5 million in 2014.

Emery calls Tillman 'ongoing process'

March, 13, 2014
Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery offered no update on the team's chances of re-signing veteran cornerback Charles Tillman when he spoke with the Chicago media on a conference call on Thursday.

"No different than yesterday," Emery said. "It's an ongoing process."

Tillman, 33, traveled to Tampa Bay for a visit with Bucs coach (and former Bears coach) Lovie Smith on Wednesday, but is believed to have left the building without a contract.

The Bucs released pricey veteran Darrelle Revis but signed Pro Bowl cornerback Alterraun Verner to a four-year, $25.5 million contract with $14 million guaranteed.

Tillman earned $8 million last season in the final year of his contract with the Bears but will be hard-pressed to find a similar market in free agency.

The Bears have made it seem that they want Tillman to return, although likely at a significantly reduced price.

Tillman started eight games for the Bears in 2013 until he landed on injured reserve (with the designation to return) due to a torn triceps muscle. However, Tillman never returned to action and finished the year with 52.5 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions and three forced fumbles.

Tillman is arguably the greatest defensive back in the Bears' history. Since he entered the league in 2003, Tillman is tied for fifth in the NFL in interceptions (36), tied for second in interception-return touchdowns (eight), second in forced fumbles (42) and tied for fifth in passes defended (132) .

If Tillman wants to continue to explore his options, he has a large network of contacts spread out throughout the league, including Ron Rivera and Steve Wilks in Carolina, Bob Babich in Jacksonville and Rod Marinelli in Dallas. The Washington Redskins remain in the market for a cornerback after missing out on former Bears special-teams standout Corey Graham, who signed a four-year, $16 million deal with Buffalo.

Free Head Exam: Chicago Bears

September, 24, 2012
After the Chicago Bears' 23-6 victory over the St. Louis Rams, here are three issues that merit further examination:

  1. Free Head Exam
    To this point, the Bears' 41-point explosion in Week 1 against the Indianapolis Colts is looking like the exception rather than the rule. The Bears obviously have a talented group of skill players, and Michael Bush is the best No. 2 running back in the Matt Forte era. But there is clearly a level of cohesion missing through three weeks. The Rams have made good defensive showings now against the Bears and Detroit Lions, and they are no pushovers. But quarterback Jay Cutler connected on fewer than half of his first 12 throws, a turn of events that made clear the Bears would have to grind this game out.
  2. For as much scrutiny as the Bears' offense has faced in the past few weeks, their defense is continuing to play classic Rod Marinelli football. Sunday, the Bears sent four or fewer pass-rushers on 86 percent of quarterback Sam Bradford's drop backs. Still, they sacked him five times and intercepted him twice in those situations. In their two victories this season, the Bears have held opposing quarterbacks to 50 percent completions, no touchdowns and four interceptions via their standard pass rush. We've discussed many times how valuable an effective four-man rush is. The Bears can devote maximum personnel to coverage, among many other advantages. Overall, the Bears lead the NFL at the moment with 14 sacks.
  3. Cornerback Tim Jennings continues to be the Bears' best defensive player through three games. A seeming afterthought in the offseason, Jennings already has hit his career high of four interceptions and has broken up a total of nine passes. According to Pro Football Focus, opposing quarterbacks have a 19.7 passer rating on throws he is responsible for. That's tied for fourth best in the NFL behind Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie and Kareem Jackson. That's how spot on Jennings has been in coverage this season.
And here is one issue I still don't get:
Brian Urlacher broke up a couple of passes Sunday but they have been among a relatively small group of "flash plays." In three games, he has been credited with 14 tackles and has neither a sack, a forced fumble nor a fumble recovery. The Bears' defense has played at an elite level all season and Urlacher is its leader. So does that mean Urlacher has answered all questions about his status after a summer full of drama? Here's what Urlacher said to the Fox postgame show in Chicago: "I think I'll get better and better every week. My legs will get underneath me and I'll get in better shape. [The knee] is good. If it wasn't good, I wouldn't be playing. So I feel good about it." It's fair to say that Urlacher hasn't been the player he was in his prime, but to this point the Bears haven't needed him to be.

Cutler ignores critics; won't avoid Revis

December, 22, 2010
LAKE FOREST -- One doesn't care, the other isn't paying attention.

So dissect Jay Cutler's game, rip it apart. The Chicago Bears quarterback, and his offensive coordinator Mike Martz, only care about the results, which in part, have allowed the Bears to clinch the NFC North championship and a spot in the playoffs with two games remaining on the schedule. When asked Wednesday why he's such a lightning rod for criticism, Cutler shrugged.

Read the entire story.