Charles Woodson Is Looking for Work, Which NFL Teams Could Use Him Most?
Charles Woodson has officially entered that awkward period when a future Hall of Famer with injury troubles, who's at the twilight of his career, still wants to play, but no one wants him.
Appearing on "NFL AM" on NFL Network, the former Defensive Player of the Year, now a free agent, said the following in regards to whether or not he has received interest from teams on the open market (h/t NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal):
Nothing right now. Nothing substantial. I'm just waiting around. We put feelers out there just to see where everybody's at. There's not much right now. I went through this before in 2006 when nobody was interested in me coming out of Oakland. I'm in the same situation now. Just have to have a little patience. I'll land somewhere and help somebody win
Unfortunately, he's 36 and is coming off an injury-plagued 2012 season in which he appeared in only seven games.
Right now, which teams could use Woodson the most?
New England Patriots
Bill Belichick's squadron has been a Super Bowl contender for the last decade, but they haven't hoisted the Lombardi Trophy since 2005.
Since then, they've seemingly been in the market for that "final piece"—typically a veteran—to allow them to take that next step to another title.
Offense has hardly been the problem with Tom Brady at the helm, but New England's defense has needed work for most of the last three seasons.
Can't doubt that.
In 2012, the Patriots found their free safety of the future in former cornerback Devin McCourty. He was graded by ProFootballFocus (subscription required) as a Top 15 safety, and he excelled in coverage, allowing a mere 35.7 percent of the passes thrown in his direction to be caught. Also, he accumulated three interceptions.
At only 25 years old, McCourty has fabulous long-term viability.
Adrian Wilson was acquired in free agency, and he'll likely begin the year as the starting strong safety next to McCourty, but the Patriots could use another versatile, ball-hawking coverman in their secondary.
The opposition loved spreading out New England's defense last year, so the more capable defensive backs, the better.
Woodson is certainly more valuable as a safety than anything else, but he lined up in many different positions across the line of scrimmage for the Green Bay Packers over the last few seasons.
His coverage instincts and play-making abilities are legendary, and creating turnovers despite allowing considerable yardage has been the staple of New England's defense in the 2010's.
Without much of a market, Woodson could be signed to an extremely cost-effective deal and fill in situationally for Wilson or McCourty and slide inside occasionally to cover slot receivers and tight ends. Youngster Tavon Wilson could learn plenty from even one year with Woodson as a mentor.
New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees needs defensive help, and the Saints must upgrade their safety position. Among safeties who played at least 25 percent of their respective team's snaps in 2012, New Orleans' duo of Malcolm Jenkins and Roman Harper were ranked by ProFootballFocus as the two worst in the NFL.
Jenkins allowed a QB rating of 115.7 on passes thrown his way, and Harper wasn't much better, surrendering a 101 QB rating.
The 2013 draft class of safeties is relatively deep, but the Saints could use a savvy defender to help aid the development of a young safety who is almost assured to be selected in late April.
New Orleans' defensive backfield was graded as the worst in the league in 2012 by PFF, a group that allowed 293 passing yards per game, so, in theory, Woodson could be a fine addition to the Saints.
New head coach Chip Kelly acquired a collection of non-flashy free agents this offseason, most of which were signed to modest contracts with minimal guaranteed dollars.
Safeties Kenny Phillips and Patrick Chung were added to the secondary, but they come with injury concerns and the latter struggled with reaction and play deciphering with the Patriots to begin his career.
They will likely be the Week 1 starters, but depth is needed.
Which team could use Woodson the most?
Though Kelly appears to be favoring younger, quicker players, one has to imagine he wouldn't be against inking Woodson to a short deal to let the 36-year-old act as a stopgap until the team is in a position to draft its franchise safety on the back end of its defense.
Are the Eagles a Super Bowl contender?
Not necessarily, but PFF rated Philadelphia as the sixth-worst pass-defending team in football last season, and quarterbacks averaged a 99.6 QB rating against the Eagles in 2012.
Woodson should at least be considered.
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