For all the justified hype surrounding J.J. Watt, Von Miller and Geno Atkins, it's easy to forget that cornerback Charles Tillman was in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year until the Chicago Bears lost five games in a late-season six-game stretch.
Arguably the NFL's top cornerback in 2012, Tillman now faces an uncertain future entering a contract season.
"My goal coming into this league was to play 10 years," Tillman told the Chicago Tribune on Wednesday. "Anything after that was truly a bonus."
The 11-year veteran plans to evaluate his options next February, including the possibility of retirement or leaving to play for another team.
His outlook is the flip side to new coach Marc Trestman's deliberate approach toward Jay Cutler's future with the organization. Tillman is excited to play for Trestman and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, but he wants to ensure they have a winning formula in place before he commits to the Bears beyond 2013.
Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.