Tillman's return surprises Briggs

CHICAGO -- Veteran cornerback Charles Tillman's decision to return to the Chicago Bears on a one-year deal even surprised his closest friend on the team.

Seven-time Pro Bowl weakside linebacker Lance Briggs told ESPN 1000's "Carmen and Jurko Show" on Monday he was positive Tillman and Lovie Smith would reunite in Tampa when the cornerback made an official visit to the Bucs at the onset of free agency.

However, talks between Tillman and the Buccaneers went nowhere. Tillman left Tampa's facility without an offer and within 48 hours the two-time Pro Bowl defensive back had agreed to terms on a new one-year contract with the Bears.

"He called me pretty often during this whole time period just to get my opinion on things," Briggs said. "I would call him and see how he felt and when he told me he had a trip to Tampa and I saw Darrelle Revis had been released, I thought it was pretty much a sure thing. I actually sent him a text that I wished him well and tell Lovie I say hi. I thought it was over. Then the next day I wake up and I get texts on my phone that Peanut re-signed. I'm over here screaming and then I called him and we had a long talk about stuff. I'm just happy he's back.

"I'm probably the happiest man in Chicago."

But Briggs lamented the current situation of free-agent defensive tackle Henry Melton, who is visiting the Dallas Cowboys on Monday after making previous stops in Minnesota and Seattle. The Bears have never ruled out the idea of re-signing Melton, but it's clear the club is not going to set the market for the three-technique defensive tackle, who played in just three games last year before tearing his ACL. Melton received the franchise tag last offseason and counted $8,454,725 against the Bears' salary cap in 2013.

"Henry Melton is coming off of ACL surgery in a season where he got tagged," Briggs said. "He had no complaints about it. He said he was coming in to play. Remember years back when I got tagged and said I didn't want to play because there are no guarantees past this year and if I get hurt I'll lose money. I wanted a long-term deal. People were calling me selfish for not taking the money, but now you watch Henry Melton go down.

Henry is still on the board as far as free agency goes and he's going to lose money. Football is a business, and for us players, we always have to protect ourselves the best we can. For him, I hope he gets the best possible deal that he can on a good team that can make a run for a championship. He deserves it."