Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Woodson Hops on Board

Free-agent cornerback Charles Woodson -- the last big name on the market -- agreed to terms with the Packers today. According to reports, Woodson signed a seven-year, $52 million contract. Details of the contract, guaranteed money, etc. have not yet been disclosed. The Pack beat out Tampa Bay for Woodson's services.

Despite missing 10 games last year with the Raiders due to a broken right leg, and 21 total games missed over the past four years with various injuries, Woodson is a four-time Pro Bowler. At 29 years of age, he has proven cover, tackling and blitzing abilities. Whether he will still have the speed he had prior to breaking his leg, only time will tell. But at minimum he still has the size and toughness to play safety and run the Packers defensive backfield if they so choose. He will definitely bring a level of experience and toughness to an area of the team that has been sorely lacking in both for several years.

While Brett Favre's return grabbed all the headlines today, the addition of Woodson on any other day would have been the topic for discussion. As it is, the Pack has seriously attempted to upgrade its defensive unit in the offseason, both by keeping some of its own targeted players as well as a few free agent signings. As a matter of fact, there was another free agent signing on the defensive side of the ball today: Kenderick Allen, a 6-foot-5, 328-pound defensive tackle who played in 14 games as backup last year with the New York Giants. Allen began his NFL career as a nondrafted free agent with the New Orleans Saints in 2003.

Some commentators and fans are suggesting, perhaps rightly, that the Packers haven't done much to improve their offense in the offseason. Perhaps that was one of the things weighing on Brett's mind. On the other hand, perhaps the Pack is counting on the return of a running and passing game decimated by injury last year. One receiver, Terrence Murphy, is gone as a result of an injury release. Another receiver, Javon Walker, says he will refuse to play another game for the Packers; rumors continue to circulate that the Packers have been contacted by at least six teams about possible trade possibilities. And while you hate to see a team -- any team -- give in to a whiner like Walker, the Pack might be best served by dumping him and getting a player and or a few more draft picks in exchange. No telling how fast or how well Walker will return from his leg injury of last year -- reports indicate he still is not running full speed. There is also the possibility that the Packers are seeing something in a few of the players they have allocated to NFL Europe. And then, of course, there is the draft.

So, I've said it before and I'll say it again, consider the division. Remember that #4 is back. And then watch how things fall a few days from now. It's not looking as bleak as some might think.