Charles Woodson

AFC Notes: M. Williams, Wallace, Hopkins

We rounded up several NFC notes earlier this afternoon. Now, let’s shift our focus to the AFC….

  • Speaking today to reporters, including ESPN’s Mike Rodak, Bills defensive end Mario Williams insisted that he hasn’t tried to be outwardly critical of Rex Ryan’s defensive scheme, and that he’s just giving honest answers when asked about it. It seems somewhat unlikely, given the issues Williams has had this year, that he’ll be back in Buffalo next year when his cap hit increases to nearly $20MM.
  • Unlike Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., Steelers center Cody Wallace won’t receive a suspension for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Broncos safety David Bruton Jr. on Sunday, a source tells Jeremy Fowler of Wallace’s hit, which came after the play, was arguably worse than Beckham’s shot at Josh Norman, but it sounds like he’ll just be fined to the tune of $23K+ for the play, per Ian Rapoport of (Twitter link).
  • DeAndre Hopkins‘ agent, Hadley Engelhard, met with the Texans recently, and spoke about – among other things – how his client has already played with eight quarterbacks during his three-year NFL career, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. The QB turnover hasn’t slowed down Hopkins’ production at all, but it figures to be something that comes up again between Engelhard and the Texans when the wideout becomes extension-eligible next month.
  • Before he retires, Raiders defensive back Charles Woodson has scored one last payday. As Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets, Woodson gets a $250K bonus for being named to the Pro Bowl on Tuesday night.

NFL Pro Bowlers In Contract Years

The NFL announced its Pro Bowlers for the 2015 season on Tuesday night, and while those rosters will certainly undergo some changes in the coming weeks – as players with injuries or on Super Bowl teams bow out and are replaced by alternates – it’s worth noting that several players in this initial crop are in contract years, and will be eligible for free agency this winter.

Currently, there are eight players in contract years among the Pro Bowlers, and not all of them are players you might expect. When we ranked the top free agents of 2016 earlier this month, we placed Bears wideout Alshon Jeffery second overall, but Jeffery didn’t get a Pro Bowl nod, partly due to the injuries that have slowed him down this season, and partly due to the star-studded group of receivers he was up against.

Similarly, our list of this offseason’s top 10 potential free agents included a pair of left tackles, Russell Okung of the Seahawks and Cordy Glenn of the Bills. However, given the strong group of left tackles that are locked up to long-term deals – including Tyron Smith (Cowboys), Jason Peters (Eagles), Joe Thomas (Browns), and others – neither Okung nor Glenn could crack the initial Pro Bowl roster.

Here are the eight potential free agents who earned Pro Bowl berths:

Berry, Miller, Norman, and Wilkerson earned spots on our top-10 list, and each of those four standout players should be in line for either the franchise tag or a lucrative long-term contract. However, the extension cases for the other four players on this list aren’t quite to cut-and-dried.

Woodson, of course, has an expiring contract, but isn’t expected to sign another one, having announced earlier this week that he’ll retire after the season. That takes him out of the extension equation entirely.

Martin is having an excellent bounce-back season in Tampa Bay, and is the most logical candidate to receive the biggest free agent deal for a running back this offseason. As we saw last winter though, not many running backs sign massive free agent contracts, and 2015’s biggest deal – DeMarco Murray‘s – won’t exactly encourage teams to invest heavily at the position. So there’s a ceiling on how much Martin will earn this winter, despite his Pro Bowl berth.

Nelson and Tolbert are interesting cases. Nelson’s counting stats (an NFL-best eight interceptions) and Pro Football Focus grades (10th among safeties) suggest he’s had a very strong year, but he’ll also be entering his age-33 season, so it’s fair to question whether he’s deserving of a contract in the range of the ones that Berry and perhaps Eric Weddle will sign.

As for Tolbert, his Pro Bowl nod comes at one of the league’s least-valued positions, and he’s also now on the wrong side of 30, which is generally bad news for running backs. I expect he’ll draw interest from plenty of teams if the Panthers don’t lock him up, but as a 30-year-old fullback, his earning potential is limited.

One more player worth mentioning is Browns center Alex Mack. Technically, Mack still has three years remaining on his contract, but he’ll have the opportunity to opt out this winter, and coming off a Pro Bowl season, there’s a good chance he’ll take advantage of that option.

Ultimately, these eight players – plus Mack – aren’t likely to get a huge boost to their annual salaries on their next contracts simply because they made the Pro Bowl. In fact, Tuesday’s Pro Bowl announcement may very well have a more tangible impact on players with Pro Bowl bonuses in their current contracts.

Still, you can bet that the representatives for these potential free agents will be sure to point to this year’s Pro Bowl roster to help make their case that their clients are among the best players in the NFL at their respective positions.

Charles Woodson To Retire After Season

Charles Woodson held a press conference tonight and announced the Raiders’ final two games in 2015 will be his last, via Scott Bair of (on Twitter).

One of the league’s best defensive backs throughout his 18-year tenure with the Raiders and Packers, Woodson will almost certainly be a Hall of Famer after making eight Pro Bowls thus far and earning first-team All-Pro recognition three times.

Woodson signed an extension with the Raiders in January, but the 39-year-old safety’s contract expires after this season. He’s playing on a $4.2MM cap number after signing a one-year, $3.2MM pact to stay with the Raiders.

He announced the decision to conclude his career tonight so Raiders fans can enter Thursday night’s home finale against the Chargers "Decknowing it will be Woodson’s final game in Oakland.

The versatile and durable defender said his body could have probably held up at 40 had he opted for a 19th season, but Woodson decided he’s ready to move on to something else.

Honestly, I think physically I could do it — my body has responded. But mentally, it’s not there. It’s not gonna happen,” Woodson said.

The Raiders drafted Woodson, the 1997 Heisman Trophy recipient, with the No. 4 overall pick in the 1998 draft. The former two-way Michigan standout won defensive rookie of the year honors in 1998 and, as a Packers cornerback earned defensive player of the year acclaim in 2009.

A member of the 2000s’ All-Decade team, Woodson has 65 career interceptions, a total that leads all active players and ties him for fifth in NFL history. To illustrate how prodigious Woodson’s ball-hawking acumen became, DeAngelo Hall‘s 32 interceptions are the second-most among active defenders.

The four players who have more INTs than Woodson, a list topped by Paul Krause with 81, are all enshrined in Canton.

Woodson’s snared five picks this season and 10 since coming back to Oakland in 2013 after seven seasons in Green Bay. He notched four seasons (2006, 2008, 2009 and 2011) with at least seven INTs — all of which coming after his age-30 campaign.

The Fremont, Ohio, native switched to safety before the 2012 season and quickly became one of the NFL’s best despite not moving to the back line until his age-36 slate.

Since re-signing in Oakland, Woodson’s started all 46 games for the Raiders. Oakland’s been thin at safety this season, with Nate Allen spending half the season on IR-DTR, but Woodson’s been solid. Recovering three fumbles in addition to his five INTs, Woodson rates as Pro Football Focus’ 28th-best safety. Oakland’s had to slot less-than-ideal cogs alongside Woodson in Allen’s absences, including journeyman Taylor Mays and ex-cornerback Travis Carrie.

Woodson’s eight takeaways this season rank second in the NFL.

Allen remains under contract after signing a hefty deal this offseason, and Woodson’s age made acquiring a safety a priority prior to the impending free agent’s abrupt announcement.

The Raiders possess an NFL-most $61.64MM in salary cap space after this season to help procure Woodson’s replacement.

Photo courtesy USA Today Sports Images 

Latest On Nate Allen, Charles Woodson

9:34pm: Ian Rapoport of has updates on both Allen and Woodson, and it’s mostly positive news for the Raiders. According to Rapoport (Twitter links), Allen’s MRI showed a torn MCL and lots of swelling, meaning he’ll likely miss several weeks, but he may have avoided a torn ACL.

As for Woodson, as Josina Anderson of (Twitter link) first reported, he has sustained a dislocated shoulder. However, per Rapoport, while the veteran safety may be forced to sit a week or more, he’s already campaigning to play in Week 2.

11:59am: The Raiders fear that safety Nate Allen has torn his ACL, Adam Schefter of tweets. That would be awful news for the Raiders, who also saw Charles Woodson suffer a shoulder injury. Woodson is undergoing an MRI today to assess the damage, Schefter adds.

Allen, 27, started 15 games for the Eagles last season at safety, racking up 62 tackles, four interceptions, three fumble recoveries, five pass deflections, and a sack. Allen had a pretty solid year in 2014, finishing out with a 3.9 overall grade according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), good for 28th out of 87 qualified safeties.

This offseason, Allen inked a four-year deal with Oakland with a $23MM base value and $6.9MM fully guaranteed.

AFC West Links: Raiders, Broncos, Hardy

Raiders safety Charles Woodson is excited about what the team was able to do in free agency, despite the lack of one huge signing, writes Jerry McDonald of

“There’s no question that Suh would have been huge. He would have been huge. He would have been a great addition to the team,” said Woodson. “But at the same time, if you don’t get a Suh, you can get three or four other players to make up for it. And what that does is build depth. So you bring in guys that are possibly starters, that will compete for a starting job, and then we’ve still got money to get three or four other guys. Then you’ve got the draft coming up. So you have the potential to build the team the way you want to. Just because you didn’t get the one guy, we’ll have the opportunity to build this team the right way and that’s what Reggie’s looking at.”‘

  • Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie is looking at free agency in the same light as Woodson, and is happy with what they were able to do, according to McDonald“Every year you go after a lot of guys, and you don’t get them all,” McKenzie said. “Our intent was to go out hard and heavy after each one of these guys, and we were able to land a whole bunch of guys we really liked.”
  • The Broncos were big spenders in free agency last offseason, but were more reserved this year as they lost Julius Thomas, Terrance Knighton, and Rahim Moore. Head coach Gary Kubiak stressed the importance of being able to sustain success by replacing veterans with younger players, writes Mike Klis of the Denver Post“I think you have to understand that’s going to happen with your football team,” Kubiak said. “You can’t keep everybody that you’d like to. Being able to replace guys is part of it. And right now our biggest challenge is that we have to improve a lot of the younger players.”
  • One free agent the Broncos were able to bring in was offensive lineman Shelley Smith, who played college ball at Colorado State University. Smith was specifically excited to play for Kubiak, writes Troy Renck of the Denver Post“We have a lot of friends and family here, a lot of support. And it was very appealing. I think he is a heck of a coach, and some of his staff obviously followed him,” Smith said Saturday. “Obviously the scheme has proven to be a very good system and I think it fits my capabilities well.”
  • Kevin Acee of the U-T San Diego asked a few Chargers’ players if they would be receptive to bringing in Greg Hardy despite his legal troubles. He feels the locker room would approve of the signing (via Twitter). However, he warns them that they will lose their right to judge the next player who gets himself into an ugly situation if they do take him in (via Twitter).

McKenzie, Woodson On Raiders’ Offseason

The Raiders, armed with a boatload of cap space, had hoped to make a big splash in free agency. They wanted Ndamukong Suh, they wanted DeMarco Murray, and they wanted Randall Cobb, among others. But while the Raiders were unable to land the biggest of the big names, they have acquired a number of quality players that should give the team a lift in 2015. Rodney Hudson is one of the league’s best centers, and Dan Williams and Curtis Lofton will give the front seven a much-needed boost. Roy Helu, meanwhile, has a ton of upside and could be one of the offseason’s biggest steals.

At the Raiders’ Commitment to Excellence dinner honoring free safety Charles Woodson last night, GM Reggie McKenzie and Woodson himself spoke about what the team has accomplished so far. Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group passes along a few interesting notes on what those two had to say (all links go to Twitter, unless otherwise noted):

  • McKenzie said that the plan this offseason was to acquire younger players who are still in their prime years. Last year, of course, the Raiders targeted older players who could provide leadership and help to change the team’s culture.
  • The older players that were acquired last season largely served their purpose, and some, like Donald Penn, Justin Tuck, and Woodson were retained, as they are still capable contributors. Otherwise, Oakland sought young “starter-types.”
  • Confirming what we had already learned, McKenzie said the team did make a strong push Suh but will not pursue Greg Hardy.
  • McKenzie spoke specifically about Hudson and new safety Nate Allen. He said that the Raiders jumped at the chance to sign Hudson, who is a skilled pass-blocker and run-blocker, and he cited Allen’s range, versatility, and instincts as the major factors in his signing.
  • Both McKenzie and Woodson spoke of the positive energy that the new acquisitions bring with them, and Woodson discussed how a staff assembled of former players contribute to that energy.
  • Woodson added that he helped to recruit a few of the team’s new additions, though most of them had already agreed to terms.
  • In a full-length piece, McDonald provides a quote from Woodson that accurately summarizes the team’s offseason: “There’s no question that Suh would have been huge. He would have been a great addition to the team,” Woodson said. “At the same time, if you don’t get a Suh, you can get three or four other players to make up for it. And what that does is build depth.”
  • For his part, McDonald tweets that this free agent class could end up being a great one, just like last year’s draft class. Given the quality of the signings and the impact they should have on the team’s overall depth, it appears McDonald’s optimism is well-founded.

AFC Links: Woodson, Titans, Pats, Skrine

Let’s check out some assorted notes from around the AFC…

  • Following his tenure with the Packers, veteran cornerback Charles Woodson inked a contract with the Raiders. Woodson admitted that his agent had reached out to the Lions during the 2012 offseason, but there was little interest from the franchise. “I was kind of throwing some lines out there to see where the interest was,” Woodson said (via’s Michael Rothstein). “Most teams, coming out of Green Bay, everybody thought I was pretty much done. Washed up. Couldn’t run anymore. I heard all of the adjectives to describe me…They were one of those teams that probably thought that.”
  • Michael Oher was just one of many offseason additions that didn’t work out for the Titans in 2014, writes’s Paul Kuharsky. Linebacker Wesley Woodyard lost his job to a rookie, running back Dexter McCluster made little impact offensively, defensive lineman Al Woods ultimately settled into a backup role and linebacker Shaun Phillips was cut in November.
  • In a series of tweets, Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap partially attributes the Patriots cap-conscious approach to the team’s inability to keep running back Curtis Martin. The franchise’s lack of cap flexibility during the 1998 offseason had a lasting impact on the organization, and the team vowed to never be in that kind of situation again.
  • Count Browns defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil among those who’d like to see defensive back Buster Skrine back with the team next season. “Buster is one of my favorite guys on the defense,” O’Neil previously said (via Kevin Jones of “He embodies ‘Play Like a Brown.’ I don’t ever want to let good players walk out the door.”

Raiders Re-Sign Charles Woodson

FEBRUARY 2, 1:09pm: According to former agent Joel Corry (via Twitter), Woodson’s one-year deal has a base value of $3.2MM, including a $1.4MM signing bonus. However, it will count for $4.2MM against the Raiders’ cap after taking into account the likely-to-be-earned incentives.

JANUARY 26, 3:25pm: Agent Carl Poston tells Ian Rapoport of (Twitter link) that Woodson signed a one-year contract similar to the $1.8MM deal he agreed to a year ago. Over the Cap has Woodson’s previous pact listed as a one-year, $2.5MM base deal, with $1MM in likely-to-be-earned incentives, so if it’s similar to that one, it should be worth more than just $1.8MM.

2:52pm: Charles Woodson will be back for at least one more season in Oakland in 2015, according to the Raiders, who announced today (via Twitter) that they’ve re-signed the veteran defensive back. While details of the agreement aren’t yet known, it appears it’ll be another one-year deal for the 17-year pro.

Woodson, who turned 38 in October, signed a one-year, $3.5MM contract with the Raiders last March and started all 16 games for the club, grabbing four interceptions to go along with a career-high 111 tackles. Pro Football Focus (subscription required) didn’t love his performance, ranking him 68th out of 87 qualified safeties, due in part to the 355 yards after catch he allowed, a figure that was highest among safeties.

Still, PFF’s grades were significantly kinder to Woodson in 2013, and even as he enters his age-39 season, the former fourth overall pick still appears capable of logging major time in the secondary. Woodson has averaged more than 1,100 defensive snaps in his last two seasons in Oakland, placing him within the top 10 for safeties in both 2013 and 2014.

Woodson was one of the team’s only safeties who managed to stay healthy for the entire 2014 season, as Oakland saw both Tyvon Branch and Usama Young head to injured reserve within the first few weeks of the year. Brandian Ross started for much of the season alongside Woodson, but either Branch or Young should return to the starting lineup in 2015. The club will have to make a decision on Branch, whose ’15 cap hit is currently $9.657MM.

West Notes: Woodson, Chiefs, 49ers

Larry Fitzgerald was considered to be a candidate to be cut this offseason, but earlier today we learned that the Cardinals will not be releasing him outright. That doesn’t mean they won’t trade him, restructure his deal, or extend his contract, but the Cardinals won’t let another team have him for nothing. More out of the West divisions..

  • Raiders cornerback Charles Woodson sounds like he wants to return next season, as Scott Bair of writes. The 38-year-old says that he hopes to see the team’s secondary coaches back in Oakland next season. “We’ve got to see if the team wants me back,” Woodson said. “I think a part of it will be what happens coaching-wise. Marcus Robertson has been a big help to me this year, man. That’s one of the things that – depending on what happens with that guy, it would be hard to see me playing under another guy. I hope he’s back, because he’s done a tremendous job with myself, with the other guys in that room. Also, Joe Woods has done a tremendous job. Those guys we work with very closely.”
  • Terez A. Paylor (Twitter links) doesn’t think the Chiefs are far from contending. With improvements to their offensive line, wide receivers, and a shoring up at inside linebacker, he feels that KC can compete in 2015.
  • Paylor (on Twitter) wants to see the Chiefs make a run at Broncos guard Orlando Franklin in free agency. The 27-year-old offers size and a solid understanding of zone concepts. On top of that, signing him would weaken the rival Broncos.
  • With all of the speculation over coach Jim Harbaugh‘s future, 49ers tight end Vernon Davis admits that there have been distractions in the locker room, writes Matt Maiocco of

AFC Notes: Hoyer, Woodson, Broncos, Colts

Just when we thought we were getting a clearer sense of what the playoff picture in the AFC would look like, the 7-3 Chiefs got knocked off by the 0-10 Raiders last night, clearing a path for the Broncos to reclaim the West division and opening the door for a handful of other contenders to push Kansas City for a Wild Card spot. As we look forward to seeing what other surprises this weekend’s games bring, let’s check in on the latest out of the AFC….

  • It remains to be seen what kind of contract Brian Hoyer will land in the offseason when he becomes eligible for free agency, but it looks as if he’ll be in for a modest payday before then. As Jeremy Fowler and Adam Caplan of detail, Hoyer will earn more than $2MM in incentives if he handles 70% of the Browns‘ offensive snaps this year, which he’ll do assuming he’s not injured or benched in the next couple weeks.
  • Speaking to Peter King of (Twitter links), veteran defensive back Charles Woodson said he has no regrets about re-signing with the Raiders this year and hopes to play at least one more season beyond 2014.
  • With Ronnie Hillman still sidelined, don’t be surprised if the Broncos promote running back Jeremy Stewart off the practice squad this weekend, tweets Lindsay Jones of USA Today. Stewart would be the club’s No. 3 back on Sunday ahead of Kapri Bibbs.
  • Elevating a running back to the active roster is also a possibility for the Colts, according to head coach Chuck Pagano, who told reporters today that Zurlon Tipton could be promoted from the practice squad (Twitter link via Mike Chappell of RTV6).
  • At 2-8, the Jets have no hope of reaching the postseason this year, but there are plenty of questions that must be answered down the stretch, writes Rich Cimini of Besides the much-discussed fates of Rex Ryan and John Idzik, Cimini points to the quarterback position, free-agents-to-be, and in-season acquisition Percy Harvin as things to keep an eye on.