Thursday, March 13, 2014
Emery calls Tillman 'ongoing process'
By Jeff Dickerson
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.