On Charles Tillman
By Adam Benovic
Free agency is looming and Charles Tillman wants to test the market. This happens every year with quite a few players, so of course it’s commonplace that one of the team’s big names will want to put himself out there.
In former Bear, Brian Urlacher’s opinion, Chicago should just write Tillman a check and be happy that they have such a wonderful player. After 11 years, Urlacher feels that Tillman is entitled to a deal with the team that drafted him. Obviously this is reminiscent of Urlacher’s own attempt to be resigned by the Bears before the 2013 season. When he could not make a deal, the aging linebacker retired and went into the media.
Now, the situations are a bit different when comparing Tillman and Urlacher’s situations. During his final few seasons on the field, Urlacher was showing his age. He had noticeably lost some of his speed and quickness, robbing him of much of his playmaking potential. By the time that he wanted to resign, he was a veteran who knew what he was doing, but he couldn’t always make his body match his mind. When the Bears asked him to sign a contract that would give him over a million dollars a year, Urlacher should have jumped at the chance, but his pride stood in the way of seeing how much his skills had deteriorated. Who knows how much he would have fallen off in that short term contract? Obviously, in the Bears opinion, it was time to move on.
Tillman’s situation has some inkling of the age factor, but that definitely isn’t the whole picture. After a season plagued by injuries, Tillman will probably be expecting a contract valued at a pre-injury level. He was never really able to come back and get into football form, looking off and slow when he did play.
Now, in my opinion, if it is for the right price, sure, sign Tillman back, but it would have to be on the cheap. Personally, I think Tillman is a great humanitarian, but his football skills have been lacking.
Before you start ranting and raving at me, yes, I will admit that he has great ball-hawking skills. He’s towards the top of the league in interceptions, and he has a great ability to force fumbles.
Tillman has always been a noticeably weak tackler, going more for the big hit, and it has cost the Bears countless times. He has never been a wrap-up tackler, instead opting to lay down the big hit, hoping the ball pops out. While he does have seemingly higher fumble rates because of it, this tendency causes him to get burned. A lot.
And keep in mind, I am saying this as a Lions fan, a team that could potentially sign Tillman away. Living in Chicago, I have seen Tillman week in and week out, and the second that he starts losing his step, he has lost his value, unlike many other players in the league. I just cannot find it in me to say that he deserves a blowout contract. I mean, he’s about to turn 33. While he will play decently for any team that will have him for a short while, his chance at a blockbuster deal should be gone, and any team that pays it would be foolish, the Bears and Lions included.
So, it’s fine if he wants to test the market. Use that money to get a decent corner in free agency and start grooming another from the draft. But Tillman is not worth a big contract like he most likely wants.
Update: As of writing this article, Tillman declared that, no matter what he would retire a Chicago Bear. This means he may be more likely to take a reduced contract and nullifies any chance for competition from other teams, meaning that the Bears might be able to sign him for a more reasonable price. I still feel that the money is better spent investing in the future of the franchise, though.