Friday, February 28, 2014
Has Woodson played his final down?
By Paul Gutierrez
Charles Woodson wants to return to the Oakland Raiders in 2014, and both Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen have said they want the 16-year veteran back.
But if the free safety does not receive what he considers a fair contract offer from Oakland, Woodson said he is ready to retire.
“If the right numbers don't come across, for myself and from the team's standpoint, then it's a serious consideration. ... I could have played my last season in the NFL,” Woodson told SiriusXM NFL radio on Thursday. “So that's definitely something that I think about. I do plan on playing another year. Hopefully something can get done with the Raiders, but if not, then I've got to take a real hard look at last year being the last one.”
Woodson, 37, made a reported $3.3 million on an incentive-laden one-year deal last season after returning from seven seasons with the Green Bay Packers. He played all but seven defensive snaps. He started out strong but, like the rest of the Raiders defense, seemed to flatten out at the end.
Still, he finished with 97 tackles, third on the team, with two sacks, an interception, three forced fumbles and two fumbles recoveries, one of which was returned for a 25-yard touchdown against the San Diego Chargers. It was his 13th career defensive score, tying him with Rod Woodson and Darren Sharper for most in NFL history.
“I definitely think he's got something left in the tank,” Allen said of Woodson at the NFL combine in Indianapolis last week. “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.”
Said McKenzie, a month earlier: “I thought he was very solid and could contribute and I told him so. And I told him I would like to talk about getting him back here.”
But at what price, especially for a player who turns 38 on Oct. 7? Woodson does not expect anything to happen soon, not with free agency beginning March 11.
“When you get past a certain age, it's no longer about what you do on the field,” Woodson said. “It's about your age. They look at the age first and then what you do on the field second. There's no rush for any team to sign a veteran player. It's not just a Raiders situation. It's a league-wide deal.”
Even with Oakland expected to have close to $65 million in salary cap space, and the Raiders scheduled to have 18 unrestricted free agents, it's hard to imagine the Raiders shelling out top dollar, which would mean they see him more as a role player at this stage of his career. And if Woodson accepts that, he'll be back. If not, by his words Thursday, he's already played his final down in the NFL.