Thursday, February 21, 2013

Woodosn One of Best Free Agent Signings Ever

By: Matt Bove
The release of Charles Woodson marked an end to what was one of the best free agent signings not only in Packers history, but in NFL history.

The release of Woodson was an easy decision, as the Packers needed a younger and more athletic player at safety. It was clear that there was no way in the world the Packers would pay Woodson the $10 million he was owed this season.

Woodson and the Packers were an unlikely marriage from the beginning. Woodson was seen as a malcontent coming out of Oakland and the Packers usually stay away from players with character issues. Plus, Woodson had zero interest in coming to Green Bay, and he even reportedly considered retirement before coming to Green Bay.

No other team gave Woodson a serious offer, so he was forced to sign with the Packers. After some arguments with Mike McCarthy in his first training camp with Green Bay, Woodson revitalized his career with the Packers.

In Woodson's seven seasons with the Packers he went to four Pro Bowls, was named first team All-Pro in 2009 and 2011 and was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2009. In 100 regular season games with the Packers Woodson tallied 38 interceptions, including nine that were brought back for touchdowns, 99 pass breakups and 11.5 sacks.  He carved himself out a career that will likely end with him being inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Beyond all his great statistical numbers, Woodson's greatest contributions might have came in his leadership. No player was more respected by his teammates in the locker room. It was Woodson who made all the inspirational speeches during the 2010 Super Bowl run.

Woodson broke his collarbone in the first half of Super Bowl XLV and cried during his halftime speech about how much he wanted the ring. His speech when he said to have one mind. one goal, one purpose and one heart after the NFC Championship game appears on their Super Bowl rings.

On the field Woodson was a ball hawk for the Packers. Early in his Packers career him and Al Harris made life miserable on wide receivers with their bump and run coverage.

As Woodson got older, he moved to the slot corner position and was dynamic there was well. Woodson was the most knowledgeable defender on the team and was great at baiting quarterbacks into bad decisions  He was never afraid to be physical and hit people either, which made him a great blitzer as well. Dom Capers was able to play him all over the field, which gave the defense so much versatility.

The Packers released a statement on Woodson after they made his release official.

"We are grateful for all that Charles has given to the Green Bay Packers over the last seven seasons," Ted Thompson said. He has been an integral part of the Packers' success, and our Super Bowl title in 2010 would not have been possible without his contributions. A once-in-a-generation talent as a player, he is also a great leader and ambassador for the organization off the field. Charles will always be a member of the Packers family and we look forward to his eventual induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. We wish him and his family the best."

It was an inevitable parting of ways between the Packers and Woodson, but still a sad one. According to Tom Silverstein of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel the Packers now are $21 million under the salary cap. With extensions due for Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, and B.J. Raji the Packers need all the cap space they can get.

The Packers also need to get faster and more physical on defense, which is why they did not even want Woodson back at a reduced rate. Even though Woodson never wanted to be a Packer in the first place, he will always be remembered as a Packer.

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