Charles Tillman

Charles Tillman Will Retire With Bears

THURSDAY, 5:05pm:’s Jeff Dickerson writes that Tillman is expected to sign a ceremonial one-day contract with Chicago, allowing him to retire as a member of the Bears.

Dickerson notes that the team wants to give Tillman a “proper send-off,” although the organization still hasn’t determined how they’ll honor the cornerback.

MONDAY, 5:55pm: Veteran cornerback Charles Tillman has announced his retirement from the NFL, posting a colorful video via his Twitter account that depicts him literally hanging up his cleats. Tillman, 35, will leave the league after a 13-year career that included 12 seasons with the Bears and one campaign with the Panthers.Charles Tillman (Vertical)

Tillman’s most notable time, of course, came in Chicago, where he started 152 games after being selected in the second round of the 2003 draft. “Peanut” posted 36 interceptions with the Bears, returning eight of them for touchdowns, and will finish among the top 100 defenders in the history of the NFL in terms of picks. But he was perhaps even more known for his ability to force fumbles, as he caused opponents to cough up the ball 44 times during his career, including 10 times in single season (2012).

However, injuries sapped Tillman’s effectiveness in the past few years, as he missed most of the 2013 and 2014 seasons with triceps injuries. After becoming a free agent in 2015, Tillman followed his former defensive coordinator Ron Rivera to Carolina, inking a one-year deal with the Panthers. After rebounding from past health concerns to start 12 games, Tillman suffered another devastating injury late in the year, tearing his ACL.

Even as recently as June, Tillman had expressed an interest to play in 2016, but only if he could reunite with Carolina. It’s unclear if the Panthers weren’t sold on re-signing him, or if Tillman simply decided to retire on his own, but either way, he’ll end his career after 13 spectacular seasons as a top-notch cover corner. We at PFR wish him the best in his retirement.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Charles Tillman Still Eyes Panthers Return

Despite a suffering a torn ACL late last year, Charles Tillman clearly enjoyed his time with the Panthers last season. He enjoyed being with the Panthers so much, in fact, that they’re the only team he’s willing to play for in 2016.

I just want to play for Carolina,” Tillman told Christopher Dabe of “That’s the only team I really want to play for. It’s a great group of men. … A great group of coaches. The front-office guys are great. To me it was no surprise they were, or we were, 17-2.”

The fumble-forcing dynamo similar comments back in February when he was on the brink of free agency. Tillman, though, is a ways away from being a serious candidate to sign with a team. Tillman is still recovering from the ACL tear he suffered in Week 17 and is about two months away from being able to partake in football activities. The 35-year-old corner says that signing with a team near the end of training camp serves as a realistic goal at this point.

Being in Carolina felt like I had been there my entire career,” he said. “The team, the community, the atmosphere, that vibe. The Carolinas — North Carolina and South Carolina — they showed a lot of love.”

A Bears starter for 12 seasons, Tillman missed most of the 2013-14 seasons with torn triceps injuries but managed to play in 12 games for the Panthers. Carolina, however, has remade its cornerback corps after rescinding Josh Norman‘s franchise tag. The Panthers certainly have the cap room to add veterans to the mix, but the team seems intent on giving reps to young players instead.

The Panthers selected James Bradberry in the second round, Daryl Worley in the third, and Zack Sanchez in the fifth. Now, Bene Benwikere stands as the team’s only surefire veteran contributor, as Roster Resource details. In theory, the Panthers might want to consider a vet like Tillman, but there has been no indication they are interested in a reunion.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

South Notes: Tillman, Norman, Browner

A pair of former Pro Bowl safeties were released this week, and both William Moore and Michael Griffin have already drawn some interest from teams around the NFL, according to reports.

Andy Ross, the agent for Moore, tells D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he has received “a few calls” from teams inquiring about his client, who was cut by the Falcons on Monday. As for Griffin, he was just released hours ago by the Titans, but during an appearance today on The Midday 180 in Nashville, he said he had already received text messages from a couple coaches he used to play for, telling him to give them a call (link via Paul Kuharsky of

With a month to go until the 2016 free agent period begins, both Moore and Griffin should have plenty of time to explore the market to find the best possible fits before the rest of this year’s class can sign with new teams.

Let’s round up a few more items from out of the NFL’s South divisions….

  • Cornerback Charles Tillman told Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer today that he wants to continue his NFL career, but only if he can keep playing for the Panthers. Tillman is a pending free agent.
  • Asked today about cornerback Josh Norman, Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman said “you can’t sign everybody,” but acknowledged that he would consider the franchise tag for Norman, if necessary (link via David Newton of A weekend report indicated Carolina is likely to franchise Norman.
  • The Saints are expected to cut Brandon Browner, but don’t expect it to happen before March, according to Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap, who tweets that Browner’s cap numbers may force the club to wait until the new league year begins.
  • The Colts have hired former Morgan State coach Lee Hull as a wide receivers coach, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

South Notes: Tillman, Titans, Hasselbeck

Panthers cornerback Charles Tillman will have ACL surgery on Wednesday, according to Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer (on Twitter). Tillman is, of course, sidelined for the playoffs and, at this time, he has not decided about his football future. Tillman, who turns 35 in February, had a nice bounce-back season in Carolina this year after playing in just 10 total games for the Bears in 2013 and 2014.

Let’s round up a few more items from out of the NFL’s South divisions….

  • Multiple Titans GM candidates, if they were hired, would choose against retaining Mike Mularkey as head coach, a source with knowledge of the team’s interview process told Jason Wolf of The Tennessean.
  • Matt Hasselbeck will wait a few weeks before making a final decision on whether or not to retire, tweets Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star. Hasselbeck’s contract with the Colts is set to expire, so he’ll have to sign a new deal with Indianapolis or another team if he intends to continue his playing career.
  • On the heels of a five-turnover performance by Brian Hoyer in the game that eliminated the Texans from the postseason, GM Rick Smith and head coach Bill O’Brien recognize that finding a “big-time quarterback like many of the other playoff teams” is the top priority for the franchise, says John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.
  • Saints general manager Mickey Loomis has exerted greater control of the New Orleans Pelicans recently, but that’s only temporary, with Tom Benson‘s NBA team expected to bring in Joe Dumars to run the front office. Check out our sister site, Hoops Rumors, for the latest on Loomis’ involvement with the Pelicans.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Charles Tillman Tears ACL

After playing for multiple weeks on a partially torn ACL, Panthers cornerback Charles Tillman saw his knee injury get worse this past Sunday against the Buccaneers. Head coach Ron Rivera confirmed today to reporters, including ESPN’s David Newton, that Tillman sustained a fully torn ACL, and will miss the postseason.

Tillman, who turns 35 in February, had a nice bounce-back season in Carolina this year after playing in just 10 total games for the Bears in 2013 and 2014. In his first season with the Panthers, the veteran defensive back compiled 55 tackles, two interceptions, and – his longtime specialty – a pair of forced fumbles.

Tillman’s injury leaves the Panthers fairly short-handed in the secondary as they prepare for their divisional round game. According to Rivera, Robert McClain will step into the starting lineup as the club’s cornerback opposite Josh Norman (link via Newton). Carolina also figures to add a new player to its roster when it moves Tillman to IR, though that new addition may not be a contributor during the playoffs.

As for Tillman, it’s fair to wonder if he’ll return next season. He likely won’t be healthy until the summer or fall, and at age 35, without a contract for 2016, he’s no lock to continue playing. Of course, considering how Tillman played this year after missing nearly all of 2014, I wouldn’t rule him out just yet.

Panthers Sign Robert McClain; Benwikere To IR

The Panthers have begun to address their depth issues in the secondary, announcing today in a press release that they’ve signed free agent cornerback Robert McClain. In a corresponding roster move, the club placed corner Bene Benwikere on the injured reserve list due to a broken leg.

Five years ago, McClain began his career with the Panthers after being selected in the seventh round of the 2010 draft by the team, so it’s a homecoming of sorts for the 27-year-old. McClain last played for the Falcons, starting 15 of 47 games for Atlanta from the 2012 to 2014 seasons. A year ago, he compiled 59 tackles to go along with two interceptions and a sack.

While McClain will provide some veteran depth in the Panthers’ defensive backfield, another move may be coming later this week for Carolina. Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review hears from multiple sources that cornerback Charles Tillman has been dealing with a partially torn ACL, adding that an IR stint seems likely for the veteran.

Voth and Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer both indicate that the team is expected to promote cornerback Lou Young from the practice squad to take Tillman’s place on the roster, assuming the veteran’s knee doesn’t show signs of improvement this week.

NFC Notes: Cowboys, Seahawks, Panthers

In an appearance today on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he thinks Tony Romo has another four or five years left in him, but stressed the importance of having both a veteran backup and a young quarterback to groom behind Romo (Twitter links via Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram).

Matt Cassel isn’t under contract for the 2016 season at this point, but he looks like a candidate to return as that veteran backup, depending on how he plays down the stretch. It also sounds as if the Cowboys will likely target a QB at some point in the ’16 draft, if the team wants to get that young QB in the mix sooner rather than later.

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • Having lost Jimmy Graham for the rest of the season, the Seahawks will likely add a tight end to the roster, per head coach Pete Carroll (Twitter link via Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times). Seattle doesn’t currently have a tight end on its practice squad, but could target a player who has been with the team somewhat recently, like Rashaun Allen or Anthony McCoy.
  • The Panthers‘ signing of cornerback Cortland Finnegan on Monday was motivated by growing concern about the lack of progress Charles Tillman has made in recovering from his knee injury, a source tells Ed Werder of (Twitter link).
  • Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula and defensive coordinator Sean McDermott figure to be head coaching candidates for other NFL teams at season’s end, but both assistants say they aren’t thinking about that possibility for now, writes Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer.
  • Eagles head coach Chip Kelly may be irked by the college speculation and rumors that have followed him around, but skepticism for his denials is warranted, says Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
  • Speaking to reporters on Monday, Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said wide receiver Stedman Bailey – who underwent surgery after being shot in the head – continues to improve, as Joe Lyons of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch details. “He’s still in intensive care recovering,” Fisher said.

Panthers DC On Thompson, Tillman, HC Gigs

Since defensive coordinator Sean McDermott was hired by the Panthers following the 2011 season, the team’s defense has steadily improved. Prior to his signing, the Panthers placed 27th in points allowed. Since then, the team has moved up the rankings, culminating in allowing the second-fewest points in 2013.

The future is clearly bright for the Carolina defense, and the 41-year-old defensive coordinator added some useful pieces to his unit during the offseason. McDermott sat down with Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer to discuss some of those moves. We’ve highlighted the notable soundbites below…

On the Panthers selection of linebacker Shaq Thompson (25th overall), and how he fits into the team’s system:

You always go through that. I know Dave (Gettleman) and Ron (Rivera) talk a lot about fit. That’s part of the fit for a player. Where do you play him?

I’ve been in the league long enough to know sometimes a player falls to you and you say, pick him. Yeah, well, have you gone through the makeup? Have you gone through the whole (process) and answered all those tough questions? Well, you’ve got him. Now what are you going to do with him?

That’s always an important part of all those conversations leading up to the draft.

On the signing of veteran cornerback Charles Tillman:

Part of being a good coach is putting people in a position to be successful. With Charles, we’ve got a guy that’s played a lot of football. He’s been successful. He’s got some size to him that we feel like can help us.

You look at the division, right down the road in Atlanta, and Tampa, more and more you find these receivers have some vertical size to them. So that certainly helps us in that way. And then Bené [Benwikere], with what he’s shown in terms of tracking the ball, certainly helped as a rookie the last how many games he was out there for. We feel like we’ve got some options at this point. …

Really defense is a game of matchups. If we get a guy in the slot that’s quick, Bené could match up inside for us. And let’s not forget about Colin Jones and what he brings to the table.

On whether he was surprised at the lack of inquiries from other teams regarding his interest in head coaching:

Nah. That stuff, it goes in waves. I’m so dialed in on this team and this season.

Believe it or not, after about four or five days of being off, I’m already itching to get going here. I’m excited for the season. I’m excited for the group of guys we have on defense. It’s a terrific group of guys on the whole team.

They’re high-character, young men that just make it a joy to be around them everyday. I’ll say the same thing with the coaching staff, it’s a great group of men in our organization and I’m extremely happy to be a part of it.

I can’t wait to get training camp started.

NFC South Notes: Falcons, Winston, Parker, Tillman

The Falcons have visited the University of Miami to get a closer look at some of the draft’s most intriguing prospects. The team will workout Phillip Dorsett, Duke Johnson, Clive Walford, Ladarius Gunter, and Ereck Flowers, according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (via Twitter). He also writes the team will meet with Denzel Perryman, who will not be working out for the team.

The team also worked out defensive lineman Anthony Chickillo while in Coral Gables, according to Ledbetter (via Twitter).

Here are a few more notes from around the NFC South:

  • The Buccaneers are expected to take Jameis Winston with the first-overall pick, and if there were any doubts about how the fans would react, those were put to rest Thursday. Winston’s appearance on a video board during the team’s Q&A session in front of fans drew a roar of applause, the loudest of the night according to Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune.
  • The Saints will host Louisville receiver DeVante Parker for a pre-draft visit, according to Katherine Terrell of Terrell outlines some of Parker’s strengths and weaknesses, noting that Parker will likely be drafted in the early-to-mid first round. The Saints select 13th overall, but after drafting Brandin Cooks last year, might look elsewhere early in the draft.
  • The Panthers attempted to bolster their secondary by signing cornerback Charles Tillman. Tillman’s one-year contract is worth $1.75MM, which includes a $350,000 signing bonus, $150,000 roster bonus, and $15,625 in per gamer roster bonuses, according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (via Twitter). Wilson adds that the Tillman deal is expected to include incentives to increase the total value (via Twitter).

Panthers Sign Charles Tillman

3:56pm: It’s a one-year, $3.05MM contract for Tillman, according to Caplan, who tweets that the Buccaneers and Seahawks also were in the mix for the veteran cornerback. We’ll have to wait for the specific details to learn the breakdown on salary, bonuses, and incentives.

2:54pm: The Panthers have officially signed Tillman to a one-year contract, the team announced today (via Twitter).

2:35pm: After visiting the Panthers as a free agent, veteran cornerback Charles Tillman is expected to sign a contract with the team, according to Adam Caplan of (via Twitter).

Tillman, 34, has seen his last two seasons cut short by triceps injuries, and has played just 10 regular season contests since the start of the 2013 campaign. However, he indicated back in February that didn’t have any plans to retire, and intended to continue his NFL career despite the Bears preparing to move on from him.

During his last full, healthy season in 2012, Tillman was one of the league’s best cornerbacks, earning an All-Pro nod and placing third among 113 qualified corners, according to Pro Football Focus’ grades (subscription required). Three years later, the longtime Bear may not be quite as effective, but he likely won’t be expensive either — it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Carolina sign Tillman to a one-year, make-good deal heavy on per-game roster bonuses and incentives.

Tillman is a logical fit for Carolina, given his history with Ron Rivera, who was the Bears’ defensive coordinator about a decade ago. The Panthers pursued free agent corner Alan Ball earlier in free agency, but came up empty-handed when Chicago landed him instead.