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Monday, February 18, 2013
Could Woodson end up in the AFC North?

By Jamison Hensley


While I don't see Dwight Freeney landing in the AFC North, another recently released big-name defensive player could end up in the division. There's a chance that the Ravens and Bengals will show interest in veteran defensive back Charles Woodson, who was cut by the Packers on Friday.

ESPN's John Clayton predicted the Ravens and Patriots as possible destinations for Woodson. Baltimore would only go after Woodson if it can't re-sign Ed Reed, who is an unrestricted free agent. But Woodson wouldn't be the ideal replacement for Reed, outside of his leadership and cheaper price tag. The Ravens have a thumper in strong safety Bernard Pollard and need someone to fill Reed's role as the center fielder  on defense. Woodson's cover skills have declined, which is why he made the move from cornerback to safety in 2012.

A more viable option for Woodson is the Bengals. Cincinnati couldn't find a strong safety to start opposite Reggie Nelson last season and ended up re-signing Chris Crocker. Even though Woodson is 36 years old and isn't the same player who was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2009, he would bring a leader from a championship team to a Bengals team that hasn't won a playoff game since the Bush administration (and I'm talking George H.W. Bush).

Unlike other teams, the Bengals have the salary cap room to make this move. Woodson can match up against tight ends, something that the Bengals struggled with last season. The Bengals have become a more attractive landing spot for free agents after reaching the playoffs the past two seasons. And, as everyone knows, the Bengals love to bring in former first-round picks to their defense. Just ask linebacker Aaron Maybin, cornerbacks Terence Newman, Adam Jones and Jason Allen, Nelson, defensive lineman Jamaal Anderson and defensive end Derrick Harvey.