Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

15 Feb 2013

Packers to Release Charles Woodson

No link yet. The highest-profile release of the offseason so far? Yes, he's 36, but he was Defensive Player of the Year a couple years ago. Let's see... a team that is close to a title, that could use a hard-hitting safety who can also play nickelback... Hmmm, I can't think of any team like that. (Hi, Patriots.)

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 15 Feb 2013

21 comments, Last at 20 Feb 2013, 10:26pm by diggler

Comments

1
by Joe T. :: Fri, 02/15/2013 - 1:14pm

Sounds like the Packers could really use a player like this.

2
by OmrothAnon (not verified) :: Fri, 02/15/2013 - 1:18pm

Yes Aaron, your team is the only one that needs a good defensive player.

3
by Thunderbolt of ... :: Fri, 02/15/2013 - 1:36pm

That's true, but to be fair, the Patriots probably have the weakest secondary of any top-level contender and have no respected veteran defensive backs.

4
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Fri, 02/15/2013 - 1:37pm

That frees up $10M in cap space. Now to see what happens with Finley and Hawk. It's not that Woodson wouldn't still be valuable for the Packers, he's just not $10M a year valuable.

5
by justanothersteve :: Fri, 02/15/2013 - 2:01pm

I still think Finley could be kept. He looked decent the last half of the season. Hawk, OTOH, needs to go. Or at least take a significant pay cut. I'd be fine with Bishop and DJ Smith (assuming they recover ok from injury) backed by Manning and Brad Jones.

FWIW, Woodson is still listed as on the roster at packers.com as of noon Central Time.

8
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Fri, 02/15/2013 - 3:13pm

I think they'll keep Finley as well, but I'm still curious to see what happens.

As to Hawk, they really can only save about 2.5 mil in cap space with him, and he is way overpaid for what he does. If they let him go, he'll sign somewhere, but he just doesn't make impact plays.

I'm starting to wonder if they might shift back to a 4-3. Caper's contract is done, so they either need to resign him or get another D coordinator, and the players they have picked up recently are making me wonder. I still think linebacker is the weakest position and a 4-3 cuts some of the dependence on that.

A bit more on player fit:
The whole secondary is front 7 independent so those guys aren't a concern
Worthy and Perry are both better suited to be 4-3 ends than a 3-4 end or OLB.
Mike Daniels seems to be better suited for a 4-3
Raji and Pickett (who only has a year or so left anyway) should be scheme independent.
Neal played as a 4-3 end in college.
The other guys aren't too much of a concern.
Bishop I don't see being an issue with a 4-3.
DJ Smith is undersized for whatever scheme, but he "plays big" so no worries.
The rest of the backers and linemen aren't really much anyway.

The big question would be what do you do with Matthews. Personally I think he could play OLB in a 4-3 just fine and still have a big impact, he wouldn't seem quite right as a 4-3 DE. But I haven't really wrapped my head around that. The crazy thought I had was, what about Clay as the MLB in a 4-3. Size wise he splits the difference between Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher. I'm sure he could do it, but his best fit does really seem to be 3-4 OLB and he is their premiere defensive player.

9
by justanothersteve :: Fri, 02/15/2013 - 4:43pm

From what I've heard, Capers is probably not coming back unless they can't find anyone else. I'm not too concerned if they go 3-4 or 4-3 as they play a ton of nickel anyway. I doubt that will change regardless of what happens with Woodson. I like what NE does where they modify the defense to fit the players strengths rather than be dependent on any scheme.

CM3 will be fine regardless. He's both their best pass rusher and best cover LB. A 4-3 could make his blitzing more effective as the LT will not be sure to block him or the RDE. Line Perry up at RDE and CM3 at RLB on passing downs with Moses (who I really like) at LLB. I'm not sure I'd care for Clay at MLB in a 4-3, but I'm fine with Bishop (who could probably play LLB in a 4-3), Smith and Manning anyway. Who knows? It may be the one thing Hawk is good at. (I wanted to see if Barnett and Hawk could switch positions before Capers took over the D.) IMO, Worthy is a DT in a 4-3 and Neal is more a tweener. Unless Neal shows more next year, he's gone after that anyway.

Agree with the rest of what you said. I didn't realize Hawk wasn't much of a savings. What is it with top 10 draft picks and GB anyway? Since Lofton, other than BJ and Sharpe, I have a hard time remembering any who didn't bust.

12
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Fri, 02/15/2013 - 6:22pm

Yeah Woodson, even if he had stayed wouldn't have impacted a 3-4 or 4-3 "base". I also agree that their base was really the 2-4-5 I saw the numbers somewhere but don't remember it but that was at least 40% of the defensive snaps and with how many different fronts they ran it was by far the most. But I'm also wondering with their personnel if a more traditional 4-2-5 nickle might be better (and they were running some of that last year, Daniels some of his earlier snaps out of it). If they were a base 4-3-4 anyway, the 4-2-5 shift is a natural nickle shift, just like a the 2-4-5 was from a 3-4-4.

Maybe it's just because the teams they lose to are teams that dominate the LoS on both sides and it just seems like it would be easier to control the LoS with 4 lineman as opposed to 2 or 3. Also agree that Capers, while he was good at coming up with a lot of different schemes that could be successful, was not strong in matching scheme to players available. Though to be fair when Erik Walden really is your best option at OLB for nearly 2 years thanks to injuries, and Hawk really was one of the two best options at ILB, I'm not sure any scheme can be molded to that "skill set".

As to top 10 draft picks not working out. Hard to say, they happen under different GM's so you can't just pin it on that. Of course they don't get top 10 picks often either, at least not recently. To be "fair" to Hawk, if you trust AV at all, he was the 16th best player in that draft (and 2nd best LB behind Chad Greenway). I still think some of it with him is that if he had been picked 20th it would have been fine.

So what have they had in the top 10 since Lofton that I can really remember. Seems like a bit of fun exercise even if it's out of place in this thread.

2009 - 9th - Raji; he's not the greatest but not a bust
2006 - 5th - Hawk; Not a #5 pick, but not a complete bust
2001 - 10th - Jamal Reynolds; Yeah I remember that wasted pick....
1992 - 5th - Terrell Buckley; That was the Troy Vincent, Terrell Buckley debate year wasn't it? Buckley just didn't last in GB, had an OK career, kind of a reverse Hawk as I recall, he made some impact plays, but he blew assignments too, or maybe I'm remembering wrong.
1989 - 2nd - Tony Mandarich; Yeah let's move on....
1988 - 7th - Sterling Sharpe; As you mentioned great pick, oh if he wouldn't have been injured sure fire HoF. Darn good receiver crop in the 88 draft. Tim Brown, Sharpe, Irvin, Keith Jackson at TE and several other solid starters.
1987 - 4th - Brent Fullwood; Yeah that's an ughhh too. Can we please redo that and take Rod Woodson, please? I forgot they took him so high.
1985 - 7th - Ken Ruettgers; Another Hawk like pick. He did play for 11 years and started for 9 (though injuries took about another full season away). I think they really wanted Lomas Brown but Detroit grabbed him at 6th. Of course when Jerry Rice goes 16th you can always 2nd guess a pick.
1981 - 6th - Rich Campbell; Never took the job from the aging Lynn Dickey like they thought he would, 4 years riding the bench for the 6th pick...
1980 - 4th - Bruce Clark; Wouldn't even play for the team, went to the CFL for a couple of years then had a decent career in NO. Yeah that one was crazy too.

I guess the best part is that there have only been 10 top 10 picks in the last 32 years, and Packers fans remember how bad the team was after Lombardi left and before Holgrem and Wolf got there. I suppose really the answer though is small sample size the draft being such a crap shoot. Two hall of fame caliber players and 3 solid starters out of 10 picks isn't awful. Of course 3 mega busts and another 2 real stinkers. Those picks in the 80's explain a lot and look a lot like Detroit picks from the 90's and heck 00's as well...

16
by justanothersteve :: Fri, 02/15/2013 - 9:16pm

I agree it's small sample size (especially since RW) and Sterling would easily have been a HoF member without the neck injury. Forgot about Ruettgers. But the 80's had way too many high picks and too many were busts.

20
by Whatev :: Sun, 02/17/2013 - 7:47pm

Wait, but 10 top 10 picks in the last 32 years is about what you'd expect if your team rank was random.

21
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Sun, 02/17/2013 - 10:42pm

Yes, but 6 of them were the 80's. So it's been 4 in the last 23. So while they are about average, it's a fairly weighted distribution. The Era of Mike's (Holmgren, Sherman, McCarthy with a one year stint by Ray Rhodes) has been pretty solid.

7
by Rick S (not verified) :: Fri, 02/15/2013 - 2:32pm

Where he goes depends on how he determines his value... Does he still think of himself as an elite player? Or is he more realistic?

I see him either being a late signee for an incentive based deal to a contender, like New England, Denver or Baltimore (in that order). OR he gets lucky and someone like Jerry Jones overpays him. The most likely is that he is a June signee by The Pats, Broncos or Ravens at a cap friendly deal.

10
by MJK :: Fri, 02/15/2013 - 4:51pm

What about the Niners? They're obviously close to a championship, and if they don't manage to re-sign Goldson, or if they cut Whitner or Rodgers as some are speculating, they could really be looking for help in the secondary.

17
by Rick S (not verified) :: Fri, 02/15/2013 - 9:19pm

Yeah, if they don't sign one of their Safeties, the 49ers would definitely be in the mix

14
by justanothersteve :: Fri, 02/15/2013 - 9:03pm

There's also this: http://www.packers.com/news-and-events/article-1/Packers-release-DB-Char...

Good luck to the man. Still one of the all-time greats wearing Green and Gold.

13
by bucko (not verified) :: Fri, 02/15/2013 - 7:30pm

He goes in the pantheon of great Packer players. Easily the smartest player I have seen in a Packer uniform and it's not close.

All Packer fans wish him well. Woodson is an awesome person as well as a once outstanding player.

15
by justanothersteve :: Fri, 02/15/2013 - 9:13pm

As far as defense, definitely the smartest since the Lombardi years. But I still remember Herb Adderley. I'm not sure if Herb was smarter. But it's close. Willie Wood was pretty damn smart too. Both Adderley and Wood were brilliant at baiting QBs.

Wood was a college QB, but the NFL stupidly didn't do black QBs back then. He also lived about two blocks from me for a couple years.

18
by bucko (not verified) :: Sat, 02/16/2013 - 5:33am

It was the way he would sometimes be going in some weird direction and 'bang' the qb would throw him the ball and you watch the replay and then it would make sense.

He also made me laugh every time he spoke not because he sounded funny but because he sounded exactly the deep voiced sidekick from the jail scene in Trading Places. The guy who only said "Yeah". Woodson and his deep voice were a dead ringer for that guy.

19
by newbie (not verified) :: Sun, 02/17/2013 - 10:55am

I think I understand what the Packers are doing here (cap space, youth). However (and I'm totally ignorant on NFL personnel rules), I was a little surprised that there wasn't a scenario in which he could be traded? I imagine that the answer is that he wasn't worth that much and the contract would need to get worked out. S

Still, it seemed weird to me that someone who could start tomorrow on so many teams and brings so many intangibles would end up just being cut.

22
by diggler (not verified) :: Wed, 02/20/2013 - 10:26pm

At this point he's a total liability in coverage any more than a few yards from the LOS. I think people are still remembering '09 Woodson more than the '12 version who, after breaking his collarbone, was replaced by a rookie without the team missing a beat.