The Green Bay Packers will release Charles Woodson on Friday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, making him free to sign with any team. The 36-year-old defensive back might be declining, but his release had less to do with his skills and more to do with his contract situation.
Woodson was due to make $9.4 million in 2013, according to spotrac.com. Chiefs general manager John Dorsey was in the Packers organization with Woodson, so there is already a link between the two sides. The Chiefs might be interested, but getting Woodson to come to Kansas City could be a tough sell.
Woodson would be a good safety to play next to Eric Berry and ahead of Kendrick Lewis, but he reportedly wants to play for a contender and win another Super Bowl. There are teams in worse shape headed into 2013, but no team was further than being a contender in 2012 than the Chiefs.
If Dorsey can convince Woodson that a team that was 2-14 in 2012 is going to win the Super Bowl in 2013, than he is the best salesman of all time. Dorsey should at least try to sell Woodson on the Chiefs, because there’s no guarantee a contender is going to be interested in signing him.
Making the Case for Kansas City
Dorsey might start by saying that the Chiefs are only a quarterback from being a contender and he can point to the Chiefs' win over the Packers at the end of 2011 as an example. Dorsey can outline his plan for getting a quarterback and Reid’s record developing them.
If Woodson isn’t sold, Dorsey can point out that the team has a pick at the top of each round and plenty of cap space to spend on other free agents.
It’s a tough sell, but at least Dorsey has something to pitch to Woodson. Woodson would probably rather play for the Patriots, Broncos or 49ers than the Chiefs. There are more attractive destinations than Kansas City for Woodson, but a contender also has to want Woodson. Considering what Woodson will cost and his skills, he might not be an attractive option for many teams.
Woodson’s fit in Kansas City would be ideal for both sides. Lewis isn’t entrenched as the starter at free safety, but he's capable of taking over if Woodson misses any time. The Chiefs also can use Woodson’s versatility in their sub packages, putting multiple safeties on the field to match-up with multiple tight ends.
Forcing turnovers is Woodson’s specialty, and the Chiefs forced the fewest turnovers in the NFL last year. Andy Reid’s Eagles tied for the fewest turnovers, so he’s seen first-hand the damaging impacts of a defense that can’t force turnovers.
Under the definition of “playmaker,” there should be a picture of Woodson. In his 100 games with the Packers, Woodson forced 15 fumbles and intercepted 38 passes. Woodson also had a knack for getting to the quarterback on blitzes, picking up multiple sacks for the past five years. There are countless plays where Woodson makes a play that might not register on the traditional stat sheet.
In coverage, Woodson knows what he is doing even if he doesn’t have much speed any more. Woodson is always near the top of the league in passes defensed, and he’s averaged nearly one a game since coming to Green Bay. Even in 2012, he had five passes defensed in seven games.
Woodson’s natural playmaking ability is something the Chiefs desperately need. Of course, if a contender also needs these skills, then the Chiefs could have a hard time signing Woodson.
According to ProFootballFocus, Woodson allowed 61.8 percent of passes thrown at him to be completed, allowing one touchdown and intercepting one pass in seven games. Woodson’s coverage grade was average, but some of his other advanced statistics don’t paint him positively.
Teams attacked Woodson and he was one of the fourth-worst safeties in the NFL in his ratio of snaps to targets, according to ProFootballFocus. Woodson was in the bottom 10 in yards allowed per snap in coverage and snaps per reception allowed. Teams clearly sensed that Woodson was declining in 2012 and went after him.
Woodson’s age and declining ability might keep the contenders from seriously considering Woodson, but it should probably scare away the Chiefs, too. The Chiefs might not want two safeties that struggle in coverage on the field at the same time.
Woodson’s career path is similar to that of Rod Woodson, who spent his final two years as a free safety with the contending Oakland Raiders in 2002 and 2003. Rod led the league in interceptions in 2002 at the age of 37, and Charles certainly has a similar knack for finding the football in the air.
Charles Woodson might become a bit of a coverage liability, but his natural ability to make plays can still help the Chiefs. The chances of Woodson signing might hinge on the Chiefs finding a quarterback, and a contending team's willingness to gamble on a player like Woodson with declining skills.