Charles Tillman not stressing about free agency
BY ADAM L. JAHNS Staff Reporter March 5, 2014 10:15PM
GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 23: Cornerback Charles Tillman #33 of the Chicago Bears celebrates after scoring a 10 yard interception touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals during the thrid quarter of the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 23, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona. The Bears defeated the Cardinals 28-13. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Charles Tillman
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Updated: March 6, 2014 7:00PM
The ‘‘Peanut Punch’’ will carry on. It’s just a matter of which team will benefit from it that remains a question.
In that regard, Charles Tillman — arguably the best cornerback in Bears history — says, ‘‘I feel good,’’ when asked about free agency, which officially opens Tuesday.
‘‘We’ll just kind of see what happens,’’ Tillman said in a phone interview Wednesday. ‘‘I’ll end up where I’m supposed to be, whether it’s Chicago or whatever team. If I hit the market, I hit the market. If I don’t, then I’m here.’’
Tillman has been very good ‘‘here’’ since arriving in 2003. And he’s the most distinguished of the Bears’ pending free agents.
‘‘I don’t know if ‘excited’ is the word,’’ Tillman said of free agency. ‘‘I’m just waiting to see what happens.’’
Tillman rehabs while he waits. The nagging injury to his right knee that hindered him last season is fine, he said. But his torn right triceps, which he said required surgery at the end of November, still needs time.
‘‘It’s just something I’ve got to wait and see what my doctor says and when he clears me,’’ Tillman said. ‘‘But I don’t think it will be too much longer, though. Rehab is going pretty good.’’
Either way, Tillman figures to be a hot topic when the negotiating window opens Saturday. Tillman’s age — he turned 33 in February — and injuries will be concerns, but he still has considerable value in the pass-happy NFL.
Tillman was playing at an All-Pro level before his knee started to slow him down and his torn triceps, which he suffered Nov. 10 against the Detroit Lions, landed him on injured reserve.
‘‘Everything is good,’’ Tillman said. ‘‘[I’m] just really taking it easy this offseason, just trying to get back to where I was last year healthwise.’’
General manager Phil Emery is on the record as saying he wants to keep Tillman, whose situation is unlikely to become as ugly as Brian Urlacher’s final days with the Bears did.
The Bears held a party for Tillman after he won the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award for his charitable work. Bears brass was present, including owner Virginia McCaskey and chairman George McCaskey.
‘‘Free agency is something that you can’t stress about,’’ Tillman said. ‘‘This is a business, and I think the quicker you understand this game as a business, the better off you’ll be. You don’t take anything personal.’’
But some in the Bears’ locker room might. He has intangibles the Bears and other teams value. He’s also very involved in the community, a quality Bears coach Marc Trestman values.
Through his successful Cornerstone Foundation, Tillman will keep busy Saturday with his inaugural “Peanut Tillman 5K/Walk & Kid’s Dash” outside of Soldier Field.
“It’s not about whether I’m in Chicago or whether I’m in wherever,” Tillman said. “It’s about raising money for a good cause, put an event on and put those proceeds to some people in some less fortunate situations.”
Tillman owns the Bears’ record for defensive touchdowns (nine) and ranks third in team history with 36 interceptions. His 42 forced fumbles are the most by any NFL player since he entered the league.
‘‘I’m not trying to play 20 years, but I’m having fun,’’ Tillman said. ‘‘I think each year I’m done, I’ll assess the situation and see how my body feels. When I want to be done, I’ll be done. If I want to keep going, I’ll keep going. But there is life after football. Right now, I’m still in the phase of my life where I still want to play football.’’