Green Bay Packers' GM Ted Thompson gets a lot of flack for his reluctance to dip his toes into free agency, but in 2006, Thompson hit the jackpot when he signed defensive back Charles Woodson. In the history of free agency, the Green Bay Packers have hit gold twice, once in 1993 when defensive end Reggie White was signed, and once with Woodson.
First, let us look at what White accomplished in Green Bay. White was All-Pro every year he played in Green Bay and was selected to the Pro Bowl in every one of the six seasons he was a Packer.
White helped make the 1996 Green Bay defense the best in the NFL. That Packer team won Super Bowl XXXI 35-21, a game in which White had 3 sacks, still a Super Bowl record. (The Packers' Willie Davis also had three sacks in Super Bowl II, but sacks were not counted for records then.)
White also helped the Packers get to Super Bowl XXXII. Green Bay lost that game 31-24, mostly because it was out-coached. White also had a positive impact on the recruitment of African-American players to Green Bay.
Finally, in White's last year in Green Bay (1998), he was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
Woodson also had an excellent resume in his seven-year career in Green Bay. He picked off 38 passes, including nine for touchdowns. He also forced 15 fumbles and recovered six more, including one for a touchdown. Woodson also had 11.5 sacks as a Packer.
He was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2009, when he had nine interceptions, including three that were returned for touchdowns. He also added two sacks, forced four fumbles and recovered a fumble that year.
In his career as a Packer, Woodson was named to four Pro Bowls and was named All-Pro twice. Like White, he also experienced the greatest honor anyone in the NFL can have: Hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy as the winner of a Super Bowl.
Even with all of those accomplishments, it was not surprising that on Friday the Packers released 36-year-old Woodson, as he had a hefty $10 million price tag on the 2013 salary cap. And he has physical issues: It was evident that Woodson has lost a step in the past couple of years, and he has broken the same collarbone twice in the last three years.
Woodson excelled in the slot corner position in the nickel-scheme that the Packers utilized quite often. However, after the second collarbone break caused him to miss nine games in 2012, rookie Casey Hayward played just as well, if not better, in that role.
In the base 3-4 look that the Packers employed, Woodson was the strong safety.
The Packers released a statement after they made the release of Woodson official.
“We are grateful for all that Charles has given to the Green Bay Packers over the past seven years,” Ted Thompson said. “He has been an integral part of the Packers’ success, and our Super Bowl title in 2010 would not have been possible without his contributions. A once-in-a-generation talent as a player, he is also a great leader and ambassador for the organization off the field. Charles will always be a member of the Packers family and we look forward to his eventual induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. We wish him and his family all the best.”
It's hard to say what will happen with Woodson in 2013, as it appears that he wants to continue his career. Is it possible that Woodson could return to the Packers with a new contract for much less pay? It's possible, but not probable.
Bottom line, besides White, Woodson is the best free agency signing in the history of the Packers, if not the entire NFL. Add everything up. The stats, the awards, the winning, and mostly the ring.
While White was in Green Bay, the Packers went to the playoffs six times, won three division titles and won a Super Bowl.
While Woodson was in Green Bay, the Packers went to the playoffs five times, won three division titles and also won a Super Bowl.
Either way, expect to see Woodson's name on the facade at Lambeau Field at some point, next to all the other Packers who were enshrined to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
One of whom is Reggie White.