Some players retire from professional football with a farewell tour. Others go out on top after claiming another Super Bowl title (see: Peyton Manning.) And others still hang on well past their expiration date and ruin the legacy that was built in the prime of their career (see: too many to name.) Then there is defensive back Charles Tillman, who announced his retirement on July 18 in the most 21st century way possible–a video posted to Twitter.
Drafted by the Bears in 2003, Tillman became a starter in his rookie and quickly established himself as one of the best cornerbacks in all of football. Twice a Pro Bowler and the 2013 Walter Payton Man of the Year, Tillman was a standout on the 2006 Bears team that played in Super Bowl XLI.
Tillman ends his career as the Bears all-time leader in defensive returns for touchdowns (9) and his 36 interceptions ranks him third all-time in franchise history. No doubt preparations are underway at this very moment for a Charles Tillman day at Soldier Field later this season.
As for the defense head coach John Fox and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio will field for the Bears in 2016, it will begin and end with the front-seven. New addition Jerrell Freeman was recently named the sixth best inside linebacker in the NFL by Sports Illustrated. And coming over from the Broncos is Danny Trevathan, the third ranked player on that same list from SI. There is no question that the Bears will be able to get a push up front in the pass rush and they should be able to improve on their #10 ranking against the run.
So then it comes down to the offense.
The team failed in its bid to secure wide receiver Ashon Jeffrey to a long-term contract, meaning that he’ll be playing this season under the franchise tag of $14 million. But if Jeffrey can stay healthy–something he struggled with last season–quarterback Jay Cutler can capitalize on 2015 and what was his best season in a Bears uniform, and the three new additions along the offensive line can help protect Cutler’s pocket, many NFL expert sites, and BettingSports.com is one of them, think the Bears can challenge the Packers and Vikings in the NFC Central and perhaps sneak into the postseason.
Even if the team falls short of the playoffs there is almost no one out there who thinks that they’ll fall short of improving on last season’s 6-10 record.