Monday, February 18, 2013

Where Will Charles Woodson Play In 2013?

Now that the Green Bay Packers have released Charles Woodson, the rumors can start about where he might play next season.
Veterans who have been released can start looking for a new employer immediately and don't have to wait for the official start of free agency next month. With the salary cap unlikely to climb next season, teams might be willing to talk but reluctant to sign expensive veterans who have just been released.

Now that he's been released, some of the concerns about Woodson's declining play have started to be written. He's expensive (which has always been obvious) but concerns about his run defense (thinking back on their poor games against RB Adrian Peterson and QB Colin Kaepernick) seem a bit off. He wasn't part of the solution but the problems began with the defensive front seven. Now his freelancing ways are a bad influence on his teammates (they aren't supposed to react to the changing play?) when years earlier he was a great influence on helping players like S Nick Collins and CB Tramon Williams emerge?

I think a bigger problem was that he only had 1 INT and 5 pass defenses last season. His role in 2012 didn't put him in a position to make plays. S Jerron McMillian (who effectively replaced Woodson when he was injured) had the same stat line (1 INT, 5 pass defenses). Woodson and McMillian have a role to play in the middle of the field, but it's not a glamour position and not worth $10 million per season. When rookie CB Casey Hayward took over against slot receivers last season, he went onto have a Woodson-like season (6 INTs, 21 pass defenses). The multiple collarbone injuries are a serious concern going forward but I'm not sure I've seen the decline in Woodson's play yet because his role changed last season.

Former Packer beat writer (current Patriots reporter) Greg Bedard probably has the definitive analysis on whether Woodson would make sense for the Patriots. Because the Patriots never shied away from veterans, definitely have Super Bowl aspirations and a need at safety, he thinks it makes a lot of sense if Woodson can play safety.

I do find all the comments about Woodson's declining speed make him a poor fit at cornerback because I read the same articles about him before the Packers signed him in 2006. If he doesn't have the speed to play at cornerback, his lack of speed won't be an asset at safety. He can still play, even if he doesn't have the elite physical ability he had years ago, and hopefully some team finds a role in which he can excel at next season.


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