In a cost saving and soul-crushing measure, the Green Bay Packers are cutting safety Charles Woodson. Though I am utterly devastated and heartbroken, I do recognize that it’s the smart move. Woodson is 36 years old and set to receive $9 million this year. Green Bay is very aware of the upcoming, bank-breaking contracts they will have to sign quarterback Aaron Rodgers, linebacker Clay Matthews, and defensive lineman B.J. Raji to in the next couple of season. More immediately, Green Bay needs to assure the return of impending free agent cornerback Sam Shields, who became arguably the strongest cover guy they’ve got. The move to release Woodson also shows that the Packers feel particularly confident in their young secondary, which played very well when Woodson missed extended time with a collarbone injury this season.
According to his agent, Woodson has no thoughts of retiring, but is looking to sign with a championship contender.
Even if the Packers are comfortable with their young players in the secondary, there’s no denying Woodson will be missed. His field vision and ability to jump routes have been incredible. Even more so than on the field, his presence in the locker room will be missed. I mean, who could ever forget the 2010 NFC Championship Game “White House” speech?
The thing I’m most disappointed in is that Woodson will not be in a Green Bay uniform when he ties (or breaks!) Rod Woodson’s career interceptions returned for touchdowns record. In 2011, Woodson notched his 11th career pick-six, which put him just one off the record, and since then, I’ve become absolutely obsessed with Woodson getting this record. It will be significantly less fun if he’s not wearing Green and Gold when he does so.
The next question, of course, is where Woodson will land in the offseason. I have to assume the Packers at least made Woodson some pitch to induce him to take a pay cut rather than just letting him go. If it’s an issue of money, it will be interesting to see which teams are willing to make a significant offer to a 36-year-old cornerback-now-safety who suffered two broken collarbones in the last two seasons?