Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman (33) runs after an interception against the Washington Redskins during the first half at FedEX Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Charles Tillman 4 Potential Landing Spots


Chicago Bears veteran cornerback Charles Tillman had a down season in a contract year, and he can blame a few injuries that caused him to miss about half the year and play at a subpar level when he was on the field. The Bears aren’t expected to keep the fan favorite this offseason, so there’s plenty of speculation as to where the 33-year-old CB will land. Most of the smoke links Tillman to Lovie Smith and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but I don’t think the move makes as much sense as people make it out to be. Yes, Tillman is a good player and is familiar with Smith, but the Buccaneers already have plenty invested in superstar corner Darrelle Revis, and last year’s second-round pick Johnthan Banks showed plenty of promise. Signing Tillman wouldn’t be a bad option, but I don’t see it happening with Revis locked in (and I definitely don’t see Tampa trading him away).

So what are some landing spots that make more sense? I’ve decided to come up with a shortlist of four, though there are other potential fits out there for “Peanut” Tillman.

1. Minnesota Vikings

It would be weird to see Tillman playing for an NFC North rival, but he stated that he’s open to signing with anyone, even if his preference has always been to remain a Bear “lifer”. Since that doesn’t look like a likelihood at this point, Tillman’s main goal has to be to acquire as much money as possible in what will likely be his final payday. The Vikings certainly have the cap space and the need at corner to give a competitive offer for him, but Tillman’s age and below-average 2013 campaign will prevent him from getting a truly nice paycheck.

I’m sure the Vikings would rather sign a young, better corner like Alterraun Verner in free agency, and they have the money to sign Verner to the mega-deal that he’s vying for. But if Verner- or another CB of his quality on the market- signs elsewhere or is deemed too pricey by GM Rick Spielman, then Tillman wouldn’t be a bad consolation prize. The Vikings have one of the worst secondaries in the NFL, and they are especially poor at corner with the likes of Chris Cook and Josh Robinson. Cook has stated his interest in re-signing with the Vikings this year, but I highly doubt the interest is mutual. If it is, Cook would only get a one-year deal and wouldn’t start, as the perennial disappointment should only be viewed as a reclamation project at this point.

2. Oakland Raiders

If the Raiders can’t re-sign or tag Lamarr Houston, then their biggest need will undoubtedly be at defensive end, though that need could be filled by pulling Jadeveon Clowney or Khalil Mack with the fifth pick in the draft. And even if the Raiders decide to sign a DE in free agency if Houston leaves (I think they’ll end up keeping Houston, but it would still make sense to go after a better DE opposite of him), they have so much cap space that they can aggressively fill the other massive needs on their roster.

The Raiders defense was arguably the least talented in the NFL last season, and that makes sense given the amount of money they had invested in the position- peanuts. Although they might want a younger corner than Tillman, he would likely come cheaper than the other CBs and would immediately be a solid starter and a significant upgrade for this team. If Houston is retained, then corner would become their biggest need.

3. Washington Redskins

If Aqib Talib hits the open market, then the Washington Redskins would probably go hard after the New England Patriots No. 1 CB. But at this point, it looks like Talib has a higher chance of sticking around in Foxboro than leaving, and there’s no guarantee that the Redskins would sign Talib if he hits the free agent waters. Even though the Redskins threw a significant sum of money at veteran CB DeAngelo Hall in order to keep him around, their secondary is so poor that they could still use another corner (as well as a safety, of course). Tillman might not be at the top of the Redskins list, but you have to think that he is a logical candidate for them as a starting corner in free agency. I mean, he had a monstrous 2012 campaign, and the vast majority of his struggles in 2013 can be attributed to nagging injuries. Of course, those injuries are red flags that teams will need to watch closely for, but his age and injuries also drive his price tag down.

4. Indianapolis Colts

I would be surprised if the Indianapolis Colts aren’t able to re-sign Vontae Davis, because they have a ridiculous amount of cap space and a ridiculous amount of need to keep a corner of Davis’s caliber. If the Colts aren’t able to keep Davis around, then they would have a massive hole at the position with Greg Toler as their only other adequate CB on the roster. Davis is a fringe-elite CB in this league, and I’m sure Ryan Grigson will do whatever it takes to keep him in Indy.

That said, neither Toler nor Davis are locks to stay with the Colts, even though most indications are there that the Colts will re-sign Davis and don’t intend to cut Toler. While I view Toler as a quality starter in this league, others have soured on him due to his price tag and a groin injury that caused him to miss a large chunk of time last season. When he was absent, the Colts pass defense fell apart, and that’s an indictment of just how poor the Colts depth is at corner. If they lose either one of their starting CBs, then they would definitely need to go after a corner. Could Tillman be the answer? I think so, especially since Toler is more likely to leave. And if you look at Toler’s price tag, he’s set to make $9.25 million over the next two seasons. I think Tillman would make about that much money on a two-year deal, and this makes a Tillman-Colts move look even more feasible.


Tags: Charles Tillman Chicago Bears Indianapolis Colts Minnesota Vikings Notes And Analysis Oakland Raiders Tampa Bay Buccaneers Washington Redskins

  • bob

    How About the obvious one The Buccaneers!
    TIllman Reunited with Lovie

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      Unless if the Buccaneers want him or Banks to play the slot, then I honestly don’t see it happening. Outside of a reunion with Lovie, he doesn’t make as much sense as some think. I explained this at length in the first paragraph of the piece, but I want to add that the Bucs biggest need at CB is depth and adding a solid slot corner; they already signed D.J. Moore but should look to the draft for a slot CB later on like Purifoy.

      • Gunnar Martin

        But it would make sense if they traded away Revis, which I wouldn’t be surprised if they did. He’s not a good fit in Lovie’s defense.

        • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano
          • Gunnar Martin

            I find it extremely irritating that you referenced your own biased article. Agree to disagree.

          • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

            No, I just linked an article so that you could read my thoughts on it if you wanted, as I didn’t want to have to type my reasoning out. And then you could explain your opinion at length (if you wanted, that is), and we could have an intelligent discussion about it. But if you don’t want to, then that’s cool, too.

          • Gunnar Martin

            Alright, let’s get this straight. I don’t think they SHOULD trade Revis, but a Tampa 2 doesn’t exactly fit him to a T. But that doesn’t mean that Lovie can’t adjust. I don’t think it would be a great idea to get rid of the best corner in the game just because he doesn’t fit your system that well. I’m sure that they will play him in a man-on-man defense a substantial amount. I was just saying I wouldn’t be surprised if they did trade him away, not that they should

      • bob

        TIllman Will play the Slot banks and Revis on the outside and Moore as Depth BOOM

    • Joe

      Did you even read the article jackass?

      • bob

        I Yeah Read It so F U

      • 3kolu

        LMAO!

  • Bob

    Too old. The Raiders need to build a young team for the future long haul.

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      Yeah, that’s my biggest worry with Tillman playing on the Raiders, but adding a veteran of Tillman’s caliber at the right price could be a great short-term solution to help a younger guy like D.J. Hayden develop. There are better option for the Raiders, but the fact that age is the main argument against signing Tillman shows that he isn’t a bad option.

      • Pridenpoise

        He would be a good asset for the Raiders especially if the price is right, and we know Reggie is tight when it comes to FA’s that are old and coming off an injuries.

  • JOHN SCHMIDT

    Agree Joe that the above 4 are all possibly landing spots for Tillman (I’d even add Dallas to the mix since Marinelli is the DC there now). While I understand your idea that he doesn’t make much sense joining TB, I have to disagree. Believe that Lovie wants/needs 3 quality CB’s to play the aggressive defense he wants to, and while DJ Moore was signed, he’s not in Tillman’s class. Call it blasphemy, but I see Revis as the nickel corner with Banks and Tillman out wide, much like Barber used to slide inside in the nickel. Revis’ physicality and instincts would fit perfectly imo, and I think Tillman would relish the chance to play for Lovie his last couple years and along-side Revis. Really hoping he ends up in TB.

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      It would be pretty awesome for him to play in TB, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to play Revis in the slot, unless if the other team’s best WR is there. To me, Revis is getting paid $16 million for a reason, and that’s to be the best darn CB in the NFL (or thereabouts at least with Sherman). If you aren’t using him in man coverage against the other team’s best WR on every single play, then you are wasting his elite talent. Signing Tillman could work if he or Banks play in the slot, but it would definitely have to be at the right price. They can’t spend a significant amount of money on Tillman.

      • JOHN SCHMIDT

        Don’t think Tillman will require elite QB money, being that he’s only got a couple years left in him. At the least he would be great depth as a #3/4 CB, and could start if needed due to a CB injury or lack of production from Banks. One the glaring weaknesses the last few years (among others) has been the reliance on unproven CB depth that has failed to produce. Believe that was the major failure of Dominik and Hickey, not being able to identify and sign competent depth at most positions, even with plenty of cap space to work with. It’s easy to overpay to lure a FA, the successful front offices are the ones who are able to identify and acquire those quality depth players. Posted recently that I’m curious about the future of the guys in the pro scouting department, Shelton Quarles included. Even though he has a history with Lovie, there’s been a lot more misses than hits in that group the last few years. Would be an interesting article to look at the success rate of the free agents/trades the Bucs have picked up the last 5 years or so though. Off tangent a little bit there, my bad. lol

        • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

          No worries, and you made some really good points there, especially regarding the Bucs poor CB depth.

  • 3kolu

    With all the talent expected to come out in free agency, and all the talent in the draft, I don’t see the Vikings prioritizing the signing of Tillman. Building a defense with youth would be the smart move.

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      I honestly wouldn’t spend a top ten pick on Justin Gilbert or any other corner in this draft class for that matter, but that’s just me. Desir, Jean-Baptiste, and McGill shouldn’t be trusted with starting gigs as rookies, but I would love to see a guy like Desir land on the Vikings as a project-type for Mike Zimmer. There are better options in free agency at corner for the Vikings, but Tillman seems like a quality backup plan to me. Youth should be more important to the Vikings, but getting a guy with Tillman’s experience can help ease the transition to younger players.

      • 3kolu

        Gilbert was undoubtedly the best corner at the combine smooth fluid hips, outstanding speed, prototypical size and serious return ability. But, it’s his ability to run the route tree as a corner and with some serious ball skills that make him elite. With, his acquisition we’d have a great secondary kick returner and possibly punt returner as well. That would allow us to let Sherels go. Our issue at CB is that we don’t have anyone who can man the slot. Robinson is more effective against the sidelines. Verner and Shields could move inside to the slot in nickel situations. With the three big corners, Desir looked to have the edge, however, the size, speed ratio goes to McGill and Jean-Baptiste who both could play safety as well. Versatility is the order of the day. Tillman, would be counter-productive looking at the whole picture, he’s past his prime and injuries are a major concern, IMO.

        • JOHN SCHMIDT

          It’s tough for any rookie to come in and start their first year, as most will tell you there’s always that adjustment period. Always tough to rely on them being ready to go from day 1. Have to agree with Joe, Tillman is a great locker room guy and would be a fantastic mentor to a young secondary. I hope Minn. shares your opinion though, because I really want him playing in TB.

          • 3kolu

            Minnesota is probably going to acquire a free agent cornerback and will also get one in the draft, probably in the first 3 rounds. They would be better served grabbing a CB like Verner who can also play in the slot, than they put Robinson against the sideline where he’s best suited. And, if they draft a rookie CB, they can bring him along slowly till he can wrestle the nickel from Robinson. The Vikings are trying to get younger, not older and his injury plagued season made him expendable, and that reasoning is why Tillman will not get a significant offer from the Vikes.

        • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

          I think the Vikings should go hard after Verner- just seems like too good of a fit.

  • David Mallow

    Hes old and way past his prime.as long as Minnesota dont waste their time or money on him, I don’t care what happens with him.

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      Be careful when you say “way past his prime”, because that insinuates that Tillman hasn’t been good for a few seasons; he was amazing in 2012.

  • 65yt

    Banks is NOT ready. I watched and recorded every game last season. Banks got beat by just about ANYBODY with some speed. Between being too slow he also continually ran the wrong routes. Almost all the points scored on the Bucs was from Banks side.

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      Banks had his work cut out for him with QBs incredibly unwilling to test Revis, so I think some of it is skewed against him. He is raw and burn-prone right now, but he’s also very talented and showed flashes last year. I think he’s well-worth starting, but I could see Tillman as an option if he’s cheap enough and they want to play either him or Banks in the slot.

  • chaseelliot81

    No way in hell I’d pay 18 million for a QB with stats like Kaepernick’s last year