Bears Ink Tillman to Extension

With both Nathan Vasher and Charles Tillman scheduled to become free agents after 2007, it was originally thought that the Bears would not be able to keep their cornerback combination together after this season. However, the front office signed Tillman to a $41 million extension on Monday just a month after inking Vasher for $28 million. Both will now head to training camp very rich men.

Per the Chicago Bears:

LAKE FOREST, IL — Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman agreed to terms on a six-year contract extension today. Tillman is now signed through the 2013 season. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Chicago originally drafted Tillman in the second round (35th overall) in the 2003 NFL Draft. Tillman has appeared in 53 games for the Bears in four seasons, with 49 starts. In 2006, the Texas native tied a career high with five interceptions after establishing the mark one season earlier. He is second on Chicago's active roster with 14 career INTs (Nathan Vasher, 16). His 325 tackles since 2003 are the most in Chicago 's secondary and rank third on the Bears overall during that span.

Tillman (10) and Vasher (11) form the only cornerback tandem in the NFL to each record double-digit INTs with the same team over the course of the last two seasons. Their 21 INTs since 2005 are the most by an NFC CB duo and tied for second-most in the NFL.

JC's Take: I've been saying for quite some time that the Bears most likely could not afford to keep both Tillman and Vasher past this season, but GM Jerry Angelo showed his commitment to keeping the defense together and found a way to make the numbers work. When you include the $21 million Ricky Manning Jr. got this past offseason as a restricted free agent, that's a total of $90 million committed to the top three corners on the depth chart. Although Angelo is certainly counting his pennies to make sure he has enough money left over to ink defensive tackle Tommie Harris for the long haul since he is eligible for free agency after 2008, it will be interesting to see if there is anything left for quarterback Rex Grossman and wide receiver Bernard Berrian – both are in the last year of their initial deals – following this season.

John Crist is the Editor in Chief of BearReport.com and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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