Green Bay Packers cornerback Charles Woodson still played at a fairly high level in 2011, although his coverage skills clearly weren’t what they were three or four years ago.
Woodson finished with 74 tackles, seven interceptions, two sacks, a forced fumble and a touchdown. He made the Pro Bowl and was a first-team All Pro. Despite all that, the Packers secondary was a liability. Certainly, that wasn’t primarily Woodson’s fault, but he no longer seems to be able to make up for the weaknesses around him and while he’s still a solid tackler, he’s definitely lost a step.
Although we think it’s absurd, there has been speculation the Packers could decide to release Woodson because of $5 million in bonuses he’s due this year. The cornerback is due a $4 million roster bonus in April and $1 million in in-season roster bonuses.
Overall, he’ll make $11.5 million. That’s definitely a huge check for a 35-year-old cornerback, but Woodson’s salary cap number will only increase slightly from last season — by $600,000, according to Tom Silverstein.
It seems ludicrous to think the Packers would cut their best defensive back. There’s been increasing speculation the team may consider moving Woodson to safety, especially if Nick Collins isn’t able to return from his neck injury.
The Packers have openly said they don’t want to make the move, but if Collins can’t return they clearly need a replacement for Charlie Peprah, who was the weakest starter in the secondary if not on the whole defense in 2011.
We see Woodson being able to fulfill a role much like LeRoy Butler did for the Packers in the 90s — a safety who can not only cover, but can blitz the quarterback and play close to the line to stop the run.
Any decision to move Woodson will likely come down to who the Packers acquire in the draft and if they decide to participate in free agency. We’d be happy to bet that the veteran will be on the team, though.