Could Tillman leave Bears to play for an NFC North rival?

Could Tillman leave Bears to play for an NFC North rival?
February 4, 2014, 1:30 pm
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Scott Krinch

Bears cornerback Charles Tillman has made life rather difficult for opposing NFC North wide receivers for the last 11 seasons. "Peanut" has spent the better part of the last decade going up against the likes of Calvin Johnson and Randy Moss.

Now, could Tillman have to worry about shutting down the two-headed monster that's Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery?

[RELATED: Charles Tillman named 2013 Walter Payton Man of the Year]

It's a real possibility.

Although there's a chance Tillman returns to the Bears in 2014, he's keeping all of his options open.

"I think it'd be a little awkward in the beginning, especially going to Soldier Field as a visitor rather than a home team," Tillman said via Kyle Meinke of MLive.com.

[WATCH: Bears need to bring back Peanut Tillman]

"That would be a little weird or awkward, but in the end, you're there to win for the current team you're playing for, because they're the one paying your checks. So you go out there and try to win."

In the last two months, the Bears have handed out long-term contract extensions to quarterback Jay Cutler, cornerback Tim Jennings, guard Matt Slauson and kicker Robbie Gould. Tillman, who turns 33 next month, has not opened up contract talks with the Bears and has no plans to retire. The veteran cornerback should have plenty of options when he hits free agency.

Another option for Tillman could be reuniting with former Bears head coach Lovie Smith, who's now in the same position with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

[MORE: Bears' Tillman has no plans to retire]

One former Bear recently told the "Waddle & Silvy Show" that he wouldn't be surprised to see Tillman join Lovie in Florida.

"That would not shock me one bit," Urlacher said. "Imagine that corner tandem [of Tillman and Darrelle Revis] right there. I would not be surprised if that happened. But I just don't see them letting him get away in Chicago. He's been too good of a player there for too long to let him get away for nothing."

Tillman earned $7.95 million from the Bears in 2013, but likely won't see that figure in his future contract, especially from the Bears.

[ALSO: Urlacher on Tillman: Bears trying to purge Lovie's players]

"I'm not really worried about it," Tillman told the Chicago Tribune's Fred Mitchell. "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."

After two straight Pro Bowl seasons, Tillman was limited to just eight games due to various injuries in 2013. He recorded 32 tackles, three forced fumbles and three interceptions.

NFL free agency begins on March 11.