INDIANAPOLIS – Charles Woodson fully intends to play in 2014, and while the Oakland Raiders are interested in bringing back the veteran defensive back, if the Green Bay Packers wanted to give their former defensive leader a call, well …
“I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Woodson said in an iMessage Monday afternoon. “I definitely plan on playing. But I think the Packers already have plenty of safeties. LOL.”
Yes, that LOL is a direct quote. But the season the 37-year-old Woodson had in 2013 was nothing to laugh at.
After missing the final nine regular-season games in 2012 with the second broken collarbone of his career before returning for the playoffs, Woodson finished with 97 tackles, two sacks, three forced fumbles and an interception for the Raiders last season, according to the NFL’s official statistics. He started in all 16 of the Raiders’ games, and according to Pro Football Focus, he played 1,098 of the Raiders’ 1,105 defensive snaps. PFF had him with a plus-1.8 grade for the season.
The Packers released on Feb. 15, 2013 without asking him to take a pay cut, choosing instead to simply cut him and save $9.4 million in cap space. He is again an unrestricted free agent after playing last year for a one-year deal that had a base value of $1.8 million ($700,000 guaranteed). He earned an additional $1.5 million in playing-time incentives.
The Packers' safety group of Morgan Burnett, M.D. Jennings, Jerron McMillian, Sean Richardson and Chris Banjo failed to record an interception and did not force a fumble. Burnett (three) and Jennings (one) did recover four fumbles. Jennings had the group's only sack.
Raiders coach Dennis Allen said at the annual NFL Scouting Combine that he wants Woodson, who'll turn 38 in October, back next season.
“I definitely think he’s got something left in the tank,” Allen said. “Obviously, when you get to that age, you never know when the tank’s going to empty out. I felt like he brought a lot to the table for our football team this past season. I think he’s a guy we’d like to hopefully bring back. There’s a business side to anything that you do, but I thought from a leadership perspective and really from a playing perspective, I thought he brought a lot to the table.”
Woodson spent his first eight seasons in Oakland, where he earned four Pro Bowl berths, intercepted 17 passes, forced 14 fumbles, had 5.5 sacks and scored two defensive touchdowns. In seven seasons in Green Bay, Woodson was also selected to four Pro Bowls, but his other numbers – 38 interceptions, 11.5 sacks and 10 touchdowns – exploded.
In Green Bay, Woodson started all 100 games he played for the Packers, twice earning first-team All-Pro recognition from The Associated Press (2009, 2011) and earning the NFL Defensive Player of the Year from AP in 2009, when he posted a career-high nine interceptions (tied for the NFL lead), along with four forced fumbles, two sacks and 21 pass breakups.
Woodson holds Packers franchise records for the most defensive touchdowns with 10 (nine interceptions, one fumble return) and the most interception returns for touchdowns with nine. He is tied for No. 2 in league history with 11 career interception returns for touchdowns, trailing only Rod Woodson (12). Woodson’s 38 interceptions are tied for No. 4 in franchise history.
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