Rumors will run rampant throughout the offseason that link current Bears free agents to a reunion with former head coach Lovie Smith in Tampa Bay.
One of the longest tenured Bears, Charles Tillman, has seen the Bears hand out five contract extensions in the last month. Tillman, who turns 33 next month, has no plans to retire and should have plenty of options if he hits free agency.
Former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher believes Tillman is destined to hit the open market in what he sees as the Bears shredding players from the Lovie era.
"What I'm thinking is the new guy that came in there, he's just trying to get rid of all of Lovie's players is the way I feel about it," Urlacher said on the "Waddle and Silvy Show" on Tuesday night. "I think there's gonna be other guys around there that are gone as well that have been really good players for that team for a long time. You get older, that's what happens."
Urlacher, who battled injuries in 2012 and was on the downside of his career, played his final NFL game that same season. Shortly after Marc Trestman was hired to replace Smith, the Bears offered Urlacher a one-year, $2 million deal. He countered the team's offer with $3.5 million, but the Bears declined and parted ways with the future Hall of Famer. Urlacher would eventually go on to retire last May.
Tillman's case is slightly different than what the Bears went through with Urlacher last offseason. He earned $7.5 million in 2013, but due to the Bears' salary cap issues, it's unlikely he will receive a deal anywhere close to that number from Chicago.
"If I was a GM and I had a chance to sign Charles Tillman before anybody else could sign him, I would love to sign him," Urlacher said. "Especially if he was with my team for 11 years, I would be happy to keep him on my team with the type of teammate he is and leader. But maybe there are different opinions about that in Chicago. You think about Charles Tillman, you think about a Bear; a guy who pretty much led the Bears through takeaways. When you think about the fumbles and stuff, he's the guy you think about."
After two straight Pro Bowl seasons, Tillman only played in eight games due to various injuries with the Bears in 2013. He recorded 32 tackles, three forced fumbles and three interceptions.