As defensive back Charles Woodson looks for a place to play out the final chapter of an NFL career—a career that will likely culminate with enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame—it appears that the leading suitors are a pair of AFC West clubs.
One is the team with which Woodson began his NFL career. The other is that team's most hated rival. It leaves Woodson with a decision to make, and one that could come down to the most enigmatic of concepts.
As Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle reports, the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders are among the teams who have expressed interest in the eight-time Pro Bowler's services.
Woodson met with the Broncos earlier this week, but according to Chris Wesseling of NFL.com, the 36-year-old left town without a deal in place.
However, Woodson's agent claims the Broncos have made an offer, which would seem to indicate that the deal isn't up to par with what Woodson believes his services are worth.
Meanwhile, Woodson will meet next week with the Raiders, with whom he spent the first eight seasons of his NFL career.
These aren't the only teams who have expressed interest in Woodson. As Tafur relayed, the Giants have at least kicked the proverbial tires. Larry Lage of the Associated Press (via Yahoo! Sports) reports that the Carolina Panthers have as well.
However, since the Broncos and Raiders are the only teams who have scheduled visits with Woodson to this point, let's take a look at which squad would be the better fit.
From a football standpoint, it's not hard to see Woodson starting for either club.
Fans of the Denver Broncos obviously don't need to be reminded about a particular lapse in safety play in last year's playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
The Raiders have an entrenched starter at strong safety in Tyvon Branch, but free safety Usama Young is an average talent at best and the Raiders could also use all the help they can get at cornerback.
With that said, Woodson would likely best help a new team at safety. Age has taken its toll on his coverage skills (at least against wide receivers), but Woodson remains a ball hawk who excels in run support. In 2011 (his last full season), he ranked second among cornerbacks in run stop percentage according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
That isn't to say that they'll use it, mind you. In fact, the fact that Woodson left Denver without a deal would seem to indicate that the Broncos aren't keen on overpaying for him.
The thing is, odds are Oakland won't either. It would run counter to what Reggie McKenzie has done since taking over as the general manager in Oakland and it's not like Woodson is the one player who could put the Raiders over the top.
He could be that player for the Broncos, though. That's the real difference here.
Woodson has made it clear that, all things being equal, he would prefer to play for a contender in 2013. The Broncos fit that bill and then some. If the Broncos aren't the AFC's leading contender for the Super Bowl now, they probably would be with Woodson filling one of the few remaining holes on the roster.
And that's why Woodson belongs in Denver.
Yes, it would be interesting to see Woodson return to where his career began. However, even if the Raiders were to offer more than the Broncos, it's not like Woodson needs the money.
Woodson has nothing left to prove in the football. He's done everything there is to do. A boatload of Pro Bowls. A Super Bowl ring. Rookie of the Year. Defensive Player of the Year.
Oh, and that Heisman Trophy thingie. He has one of those too.
However, were Woodson to lead the Broncos to a Lombardi Trophy as his swan song, that would be a true coup de grace—and one that would only add to the argument that he's the greatest player at his position in NFL history.
At this point, that's about the only achievement Woodson doesn't have on his resume.