Tillman was a two-time all-Sun Belt Conference selection and earned all-America honors as a senior, moving to free safety midway through his senior campaign after playing cornerback, which is where the Bears envision him playing. The team is depending on Tillman coming in and winning the nickel job, but he's now in a catch up mode.
"I'm not going to say the balance of the season rests on Tillman and how fast he comes along but he certainly could make things a little bit easier," said Bears GM Jerry Angelo. "
The holdout has not put the rookie in good standing with defensive coordinator Greg Blache.
"When guys hold out, the club is hurt and the player is hurt," Blache said. "The only person that gains anything when a player holds out is the agent. He's advertising for next year. It doesn't help the player; it doesn't help the football team. I'm totally opposed to guys holding out from training camp.
For the most part the rookie salary cap locks in what a player can be paid depending on where he is selected. The new addition of the veteran pool, which sets aside about $1 million for veterans that make the team, comes out the rookie pool.
However, the changes have changed the way negotiations are handled.
"We had our fifth rounder (holdout) which was kind of silly. And that never was in days past," Angelo said. "With the cap and the decrease in the rookie pool we all have to work with it kind of changed the thinking. The agents I think had to come to grips with that as well as us."
Blache is not as understanding of a player he was instrumental in drafting.
"Once you're drafted, you're going to play for that football team," he said. "It's kind of clear-cut what that area is going to pay and what's going to happen. There's no excuse for agents to hold players out anymore; 15 or 20 years ago there might have been. In this day and age, there's no excuse for it."
The 6-1, 196 pounder was a four-year starter at left cornerback at Louisiana-Lafayette (1999-2002), starting 39 of 45 career games played with 284 career tackles, two sacks, nine TFLs, seven forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries, 12 interceptions, 31 passes defended and three blocked kicks.