Charles Woodson to be released by Green Bay Packers after seven seasons
Charles Woodson won a Super Bowl, a Defensive Player of the Year and was named to four Pro Bowl teams during his seven seasons with the Green Bay Packers. His bulky contract and declining skills, though, made Friday's news that the Packers were set to release Woodson come as little surprise. Woodson was due to make $6.5 million in base salary in 2013, with close to $3 million more available in bonuses. Those numbers proved too hefty for Green Bay to commit to a 37-year-old defensive back, who struggled to produce when he was on the field last season.
News of Green Bay's decision actually broke first via the official Twitter account of Woodson's winery, Twenty Four Wines, which tweeted: "Thank you Green Bay it was a great run!"
Woodson's agent, Carl Poston, later confirmed to the NFL Network's Ian Rapaport that the release was coming, adding, "It's part of the business." Also according to Rapaport, Poston said that his client does not plan to retire and would "like to go play for a contender, win another Super Bowl."
That desire likely narrows down the list of teams Woodson would consider. But is there still a market for Woodson out there?
The Packers moved Woodson to safety for the 2012 season, a nod to both the team's improved depth at cornerback (thanks mostly to rookie Casey Hayward) and Woodson's diminishing coverage ability. He still managed to pick off a league-leading seven passes in 2011, but he was a bit of a boom-or-bust player.
Green Bay hoped moving Woodson to safety would allow him to utilize his ball-hawking abilities, alongside an occasional blitz. During seven regular-season games, however, he managed just one pick and 1.5 sacks. Pro Football Focus graded him out as the 37th-best safety in the league in 2012.
Woodson originally signed with Green Bay back in 2006, after eight up-and-down seasons in Oakland. Because of his success with the Packers, it's possible that the two sides will try to reach a more financially sensible deal to keep Woodson around, but the safer bet is that Green Bay opts to go with a younger option like M.D. Jennings at strong safety.
Woodson, meanwhile, ought to find several interested teams, even this late in his career. The Patriots may be in the market for some veteran safety help; as could the 49ers, who suffered from dismal safety play during their Super Bowl loss to the Ravens. Atlanta also stands to lose its starting strong safety, William Moore, in free agency -- Cincinnati, Detroit, Minnesota, the Jets, St. Louis are in a similar boat.
Of course, any team that signs Woodson would have the option to return him to his natural spot at cornerback. Woodson had 37 interceptions while playing that position for six seasons in Green Bay.
The Packers reportedly started the offseason about $7 million under 2013's projected salary cap. Cutting Woodson obviously gives Green Bay even more wiggle room with which to hit the market. Woodson now likely has one more stop in his NFL career. Where that stop may be is, for now, anyone's guess.