Charles Tillman told us he is not quite ready to retire as he cleaned out his locker after another non-playoff appearance for the Bears.
But the veteran Pro Bowl cornerback suggested circumstances could send his battered body elsewhere as an unrestricted free agent. And there has been speculation he might try to reunite with former Bears coach Lovie Smith, who's now heading up the Buccaneers.
The Bears probably would like to have Tillman back, but they are unlikely to offer a contract close to the $7.95 million he was paid in 2013.
"I'm not really worried about it," said Tillman, who played in just eight games in 2013 because of triceps, groin and knee injuries. "I have some decisions I have to make in the next couple of weeks, couple of months.
"I am just going to see what happens. I have some options, I have some thoughts."
Tillman, who turns 33 on Feb. 23, broke Donnell Woolford's Bears franchise record for most career interceptions by a cornerback in 2012. He now has 36. Woolford collected four more picks with the Steelers in 1997 to finish his NFL career with 36.
Woolford, whom the Bears drafted in the first round out of Clemson in 1989, says he can feel Tillman's pain, both physically and emotionally.
"(The decision) is very difficult," Woolford said. "You want to turn back the clock when you have been around for awhile and your body starts to break down. You have to prepare for life after the games. It was difficult for me and I am sure it will be difficult for 'Peanut.' We all think we are invincible. It is a rough sport and eventually it will wear your body down."
Some have speculated Tillman would be better served playing safety instead of cornerback at this stage of his career. Tillman, who has 40 career forced fumbles, thus far has balked at that idea and Woolford concurs.
"They wanted me to do that and I told them no," Woolford said.
"As a safety, you have to come up into that box (to make tackles). Now you ask the man who played corner, who is not used to having that physical play on a down and down basis ... you are asking a guy to get into the box and pound big guys two times his size when you have to shed a block and take on a running back. It would be worse on his body. I don't think it would be fair to his body."
Whenever Tillman decides to retire from football, Woolford think he will make the transition easily as he continues his work in the community through his foundation. Tillman has been selected as a finalist for the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year Award that recognizes work on the field and in the community.
Woolford, 48, remains involved with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, as well as the Greater Chicago Flag Football League. He recently was named a member of the Ada S. McKinley Community Services board of directors.
"I am a product of the Boys & Girls Clubs. And I also work with the Silver Lining Foundation, helping the ladies get the mammograms who can't afford them," Woolford said. "Tillman has done some real positive things in the community, and that's what it is all about. Pretty soon when he decides to hang up the cleats, he can step right into doing some good things."
Meanwhile, Tillman continues to weigh his options.
"This is the first time in my life that I have had to make a decision like this," Tillman said. "I am just looking to see how it plays out. I'm not stressing. I'm not worried about it."
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