He is held in very high regard personally and professionally at Halas Hall, but Charles Tillman understands that the NFL is a business and that makes his return to the Bears problematic at best.
Because they invested in Tim Jennings, $11.8 million guaranteed on a four-year deal topping out at $22.4 million, the Bears will be pressed to find major money to pay a second cornerback in free agency. That applies particularly to one coming off a season with time lost to knee and triceps injuries and who turns 33 next Sunday.
The Bears once did tie up big money in two cornerbacks, with Tillman and Nathan Vasher in 2007. But both were in their primes and mid-20s.
An ideal situation for the Bears would then be to find their second starting cornerback in the draft, where they found Tillman in a second round (2003) and Vasher in a fourth (2004).
This might be the year that the draft holds the kind of talent that allowed the Bears to find Tillman and Vasher, their starting corners for the playoff seasons of 2005 and 2006.
“There’s more quality at the top end of this draft than I’ve seen in a long time,” said NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said.
“I think there’s some pretty good corners three or four rounds deep. I’m really excited about this draft.”