In 2013, defensive end Israel Idonije signed with the Detroit Lions after not suiting up for another team other than the Chicago Bears. Now, it seems Idonije's move could have opened up a pipeline of former Bears to the Motor City.
Cornerback Charles Tillman, long regarded as one of the best at his position in the game, is set to test free agency for the first time in his career. The Lions happen to need plenty of help at cornerback, and could be eyeing a veteran like Tillman to help fill a veteran void. Tillman spoke about what it would be like to play for a long-standing rival like Detroit.
"I think it'd be a little awkward in the beginning, especially going to Soldier Field as a visitor rather than a home team," said Tillman…"That would be a little weird or awkward, but in the end, you're there to win for the current team you're playing for because they're the one paying your checks. So you go out there and try to win."
Detroit would gladly sign the checks if a player of Tillman's talent took up residence in the backfield, especially considering his penchant for locking down some of the best receivers in the game, most notably the Lions' own Calvin Johnson. Tillman's 2013 season wasn't his greatest statistically, but a combination of groin, triceps and knee injuries intervened to slow him down significantly to the tune of only eight games played. Given it was his lowest amount since 2004, durability isn't a huge issue.
The Lions figure to add at least one veteran cornerback this offseason to the mix. Though Tillman is 33, it seems he still has more to offer than 34 year-old Rashean Mathis, who'll be a free agent as well. Other than that, Chris Houston is the most established player, and he's only 29. Cornerback figures to be high on the draft list again this spring, even with younger players like Darius Slay, Bill Bentley and Jonte Green on the roster.
Detroit could make just as much sense for Tillman. Considering the impact the Lions' defensive line makes, Tillman could be free to play his aggressive brand of defense on the back end. Considering his ability to create turnovers, Tillman would also fit with defensive coordinator Teryl Austin's attacking scheme, which places emphasis on turnover creation. Since 2009, Tillman has intercepted 16 passes, forced 25 fumbles and scored six defensive touchdowns, one of the best collections of statistics from a cornerback recently.
Will "Peanut" follow in the footsteps of "Izzy" and blaze his own trail east on I-94 from Chicago to Detroit? The offseason hasn't even begun yet, but when the time comes, the move might make sense for both parties.
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