Before the 2013 season, Charles Tillman missed only 14 games in 10 professional seasons. Last year at 32 years old and in his 11th season with the Chicago Bears, he missed eight. The end is obviously near for Peanut, but can he squeeze another year or two out of his body?
I'm sure the Bears would love to have a player of his caliber back in their secondary, but general manager Phil Emery is asking himself two questions.
Will he be healthy?
Will his skills and body hold up at 33 years old?
If Emery believes Tillman will be able to play in 2014, he'll then have to decide the best price for the Bears to offer. Last year he thought Brian Urlacher was healthy enough to help his team, but only at a fraction of his previous salary. We could see a similar situation arise in the coming months for Tillman.
Last off season, Urlacher was given an offer, but he chose to test the open market. No one was willing to give him a chance to play in 2013, so he decided to retire rather than play for what he felt was a disrespectful amount. Tillman is a couple years younger than Urlacher was, and he has another team that may be willing to offer up a contract with his former coach now running the show in Tampa Bay.
If Lovie Smith is looking to bring in a few of "his guys" to help with the culture change for the Buccaneers, they may be willing to overpay to bring the Peanut Punch to Tampa. I highly doubt the Bears would get into a bidding war for Tillman, but I do think the Bears see the value in bringing him back at their price.
Tillman would like to remain a Bear, he even likened his preferred and eventual exit from the NFL to that of New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera. Rivera came back from a knee injury, played another year with his team, then retired on his own terms after playing all 19 years with the Yankees.
If Tillman wants to keep his #33 alive in Chicago he may have to take less money to do it.
What do you think the Bears should do, re-sign Charles Tillman or let him walk?