Charles Woodson has been released by the Green Bay Packers last Friday even though the 36-year-old defensive back had two years left on his NFL contract.
“We are grateful for all that Charles has given to the Green Bay Packers over the past seven years,” general manager 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.”
The Packers clear about $10 million in cap space by releasing Woodson. Carl Poston, Woodson’s agent, said the veteran wasn’t done yet.
“The Packers told Charles they’re going in a different direction,” Poston said. “Charles told me he still wants to play — for a Super Bowl contender.”
Woodson signed a five-year deal before the 2010 season that was worth as much as $55 million. He missed nine games during the 2012 regular season because of a broken right collarbone and played in two postseason games for the Packers in his seventh year with the franchise.
“We had a good run,” Woodson told ESPN.
Woodson was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2009 and the Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1998. He spent the first eight years of his career with the Oakland Raiders, who drafted him out of Michigan with the No. 4 overall pick.
He’s the only player in NFL history with touchdowns off interceptions in six straight seasons, a feat he pulled off each year from 2006 to 2011, and leads the league with nine touchdowns off interceptions since 2006. He went to the Pro Bowl every year from 2008-11.
Woodson was productive for the Packers, but they have some tough decisions to make this off-season to manage the salary cap. Woodson had a year left on his lucrative deal and linebacker A.J. Hawk is under contract next year for a team that probably wants to give long-term deals to receiver James Jones, linebacker Clay Matthews and defensive tackle B.J. Raji because each of the relatively young standouts could potentially be free agents following next season.
Despite his age and recent injury, Woodson will likely be an in-demand free agent. He was injured last October, bounced back in time to defend two passes in the playoffs.