Even in the best possible scenario, I don't see Oakland making the playoffs. And I say this as a lifelong Raiders fan who would like nothing more than a trip to the postseason.
The talent just isn't there.
Despite what is almost certain to be a losing season in Oakland, Woodson won't wind up regretting his decision, and it's not because he didn't have options.
Woodson, according to ESPN, wound up signing a one-year deal worth a maximum of $4.3 million that includes a $700,000 signing bonus. And the 36-year-old made this commitment after visiting the San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos.
Both of those teams would certainly qualify as contenders.
However, both of those franchises likely offered Woodson a deal that wasn't up to his monetary wishes.
It can be a dangerous proposition to forgo something that once seemed essential for an acceptable quality of life for more money. This is a fast track toward unhappiness—especially for people who are already wealthy.
It won't in this instance.
Woodson is not a veteran chasing an elusive Super Bowl victory. He has already won one. He did so with the 2010 Green Bay Packers, and he's spent most of his career on playoff teams.
After being drafted by the Raiders with the fourth overall selection in the 1998 draft, Woodson left the Raiders following the 2005 season. During his seven seasons with the Packers, Woodson made the playoffs five times. And he was a huge reason why Green Bay was so successful.
Woodson had long been regarded as one of the game's best corners, but while in Green Bay, he matured into one of the game's best players. In 2009, he won the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year award to cement that status.
However, it's not like Woodson's time with the Packers was his only opportunity to get a taste of the postseason.
During his first tour with the Raiders, Oakland won three straight AFC West titles and made a Super Bowl appearance following the 2002 season.
Woodson was also part of one of the more memorable plays in postseason history in that stretch. That came on a snowy night in Foxboro against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. I'll refrain from posting video or getting into specifics for fear of my PTSD overtaking me.
Instead, I'll post this epic pic of Woodson hauling in one of his 55 career interceptions.
My point is, Woodson has accomplished just about everything there is to accomplish on an individual level, and he has done so while playing in many meaningful games.
While winning never gets old, for some it might become less of a priority, especially if they've tasted team success before.
Playing in Oakland isn't likely to lead Woodson back to the postseason this year, but it does offer him a different opportunity to have a rewarding season. The Raiders are in a transition phase, as general manager Reggie McKenzie tries to rebuild this sinking franchise in a sustainable manner.
Woodson can now step in and offer his experience to youngsters like rookie cornerback and first-round pick D.J. Hayden, and he can do so while being a needed and valuable part of the defense.
He can help instill a feeling of tradition—one that actually comes from a time when the Raiders were competitive.
And he has the chance to play for a fanbase that adores him. There is nowhere that Woodson could have gone to receive the support he will in Oakland.
Woodson was reminded of this just before inking his new contract on his visit to the team headquarters. Check out his quote, which the Raiders tweeted, and the video from the fan rally:
OAKLAND RAIDERS @RAIDERS
Charles Woodson - "I think that if at any time I’d ever forgotten what the love was like in Oakland, I was definitely reminded yesterday."5/22/2013, 10:34:09 PM
We've seen plenty of players return to their original franchises simply to retire. Woodson now gets a chance to do this while still making an impact on the field and in the locker room.
This presents him the chance to be a true Raiders legend whose imprint is ingrained in the DNA of the franchise, and that's not a bad way for a player who has accomplished everything to go out.
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