Bears agree to 6-year contract extension with cornerback Tillman

The Bears cleared a major hurdle for the future of their defense Tuesday by agreeing with cornerback Charles Tillman on a six-year extension that will keep him in Chicago until 2013.

The deal will pay about $38 million in new money with $18.5 million in guarantees.

"They compromised. We compromised," Tillman said. "They were willing to listen. We were willing to listen. That's how it got done."

Combined with the recent signing of cornerback Nathan Vasher for $28 million for five years, the Bears have resolved the two major questions in their secondary. Tillman and Vasher were scheduled to become free agents after the season. Keeping them was of one of the main priorities of general manager Jerry Angelo.

"I'm glad for Nate, proud of Nate for getting his deal done and
glad mine has gotten done," Tillman said. "I think Nate and
myself work well together."

The team announced the signing Tuesday afternoon.

The 6-foot-1, 196-pound Tillman, who matches up well with tall wide receivers, is close with quarterback Rex Grossman and one of the most popular players on the team. He made a name for himself as a rookie in 2003 when he covered Randy Moss of the Vikings well in two games.

The former third-round choice has played 53 games for the Bears and has 14 interceptions, 10 of which came over the past two seasons.

With Tillman and Vasher re-signed, the Bears can concentrate on wide receiver Bernard Berrian. After taking over the starting job last season, Berrian is set to become a free agent following the 2007-08 season.

Left unsigned for the Bears is franchise linebacker Lance Briggs. Briggs was likely going to hold out of training camp, but late Tuesday night the Chicago Tribune reported that the two sides might be close to a deal.

Tillman said during a conference call that he spoke recently
with Briggs.

"I'm sure Lance had a lot to do with us being a top defense,"
Tillman said, adding he didn't talk football specifics with Briggs.

Senior writer John Clayton covers the NFL for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.