It took nearly a full decade in the league before Charles Tillman made his first Pro Bowl last season as a ninth-year veteran. On Wednesday, he became the first cornerback in Bears history to be named to back-to-back Pro Bowls.
Making the feat a bit more impressive is that we had heard whispers during training camp that the Bears were concerned Tillman was in decline. There was talk that Tim Jennings — who was named to his first Pro Bowl Wednesday — not Tillman, had played the best of any corner at Bears camp.
It was not the first time there had been preseason chatter about Tillman being on the downswing. In fact, what was largely perceived to be a demotion before the 2010 season — the Bears’ decision to move Tillman from left to right corner — has turned into a move that preempted some of his finest seasons and the greatest accolades of his career.
Will Tillman be rewarded this offseason for proving the doubters wrong?
Do the Bears want to include Jennings, who has had a career year in his seventh season after signing a two-year deal last offseason, in their long-term plans?
It will be interesting to see the approach GM Phil Emery takes with his Pro Bowl corners. Both Tillman, who turns 33 in February, and Jennings, 29, are due to become free agents after next season and, at the moment, the Bears do not have any young corners that they have been grooming to take their starting jobs. There is nickel back D.J. Moore, 25, but he is due to become a free agent this offseason and it appears the team has soured on him.
Tillman and Jennings are not young players any more, but they are not getting any cheaper with age.