The Green Bay Packers have decisions to make about a number of guys this offseason and veteran safety Charles Woodson falls into that group.
Right now, it also looks like he falls into the group of guys who will either have to take a pay cut or be released. It seems almost preposterous that the Packers would think about releasing Woodson, but he has three factors working against him.
Primary among those is the Packers will be paying Woodson $10 million in 2013 if they keep him. His base is $6.5 million, but he’s also owed $3.5 million in bonuses.
The other factors? He’s 36 and he now has an injury history after missing nine games this season.
That doesn’t necessarily mean Woodson is injury prone, but he has a lot of miles on his body. He’s going to be more susceptible to injury and let’s face it, he’s certainly not getting any faster.
Can Woodson still play?
I’d argue he can. Without him, the Packers gave up 409 yards to Adrian Peterson in two games. With Woodson, they gave up 99 and he was clearly a big part of that improvement.
Also, if you project Woodson’s numbers over 16 games they stand up fine: 86 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles.
Those numbers reflect an improvement over his 2011 numbers in every category except for interceptions.
Anyone who wants the Packers to move on will point to Woodson’s playoff loss to San Francisco. In that game, the Packers gave up an NFL-record 181 rushing yards to quarterback Colin Kaepernick. I’d argue that wasn’t Woodson’s fault.
If you really look at what happened, you’ll see most of Kaepernick’s yards came on scrambles, not designed running plays. In those situations, Woodson would have been in coverage rather than shadowing the quarterback or playing near the line.
You also have to consider the Packers play man pass coverage, which requires defenders to watch another player. Zone coverage, which requires defenders to watch the quarterback, may have been the better scheme against San Francisco.
That’s not to say Woodson is the All-Pro caliber guy he once was. While he’s still physical, you can see he’s lost a step in pass coverage.
How does this play out?
We know Woodson doesn’t want to go anywhere and the Packers value his leadership. It seems logical that he’s back at a reduced rate.