- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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One of the first big names has entered the open market this offseason. The Green Bay Packers released eight-time, Pro Bowl defensive back Charles Woodson on Friday.
Woodson surely will get plenty of interest in free agency. Will any of that interest come from a team in the AFC East?
Analysis: The Patriots desperately need help at safety. They allowed an NFL-high 74 passing plays of 20 yards or more last season. New England has been mostly linked to Baltimore Ravens' pending free-agent safety Ed Reed. However, Reed will be expensive for the Patriots or any team willing to sign the future Hall of Famer. Woodson could be an interesting second option, especially if he's more affordable than Reed. Patriots coach Bill Belichick is not afraid to sign aging players if they're still smart enough to play. Woodson, 36, certainly fits that description. But money is a big question, as usual. The Patriots need to save cap room to keep in-house free agents like Wes Welker, Sebastian Vollmer, Julian Edelman and Danny Woodhead.
Analysis: The Dolphins have plenty of cap room and an opening at safety opposite Reshad Jones. Woodson could provide leadership and play-making ability to Miami's back end. But safety isn't nearly as big a need in Miami as wide receiver or cornerback. The Dolphins reportedly are looking to re-sign safety Chris Clemons, who played all 16 games last season. Clemons is an affordable option that allows Miami to spend its cap room elsewhere.
Analysis: The Bills are focused on re-signing Jairus Byrd, who is a great safety and much younger than Woodson. Byrd will get a sizable extension or the franchise tag. Either way, that will eat up a lot of Buffalo's cap room for 2013. The Bills released veteran safety George Wilson, but there are cheaper alternatives in the draft and free agency. It also sounds like Woodson is interested in joining a contender. The Bills are a team in transition with a rookie head coach and scheme changes on offense and defense.
Analysis: The Jets potentially need to sign two safeties. Starters LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell are both unrestricted free agents, and New York is approximately $19 million over the cap. But just as the Jets can’t re-sign Landry, a Pro Bowler, they most likely cannot sign Woodson, who also won’t come cheap.