Release of Charles Woodson: One of Ted Thompson’s Best Decisions

The dreaded Ted Thompson stare

Set aside any personal feelings you may have for Charles Woodson for just a minute and consider this:

Was the release of Charles Woodson one of the best moves in Ted Thompson’s tenure as Packers GM?

It seems odd that the release of a beloved player-a game changing, former NFL Defensive Player of the Year-would be considered one of the best moves that the Steely Eyed Assassin could have made.

Yet this is exactly what Bob McGinn said during his most recent podcast with co host Ty Dunne:

“One of Ted Thompson’s best decisions…over the hill…don’t think he can play anymore”.

Sounds like a harsh indictment of what McGinn thinks of Woodson’s current ability to perform, doesn’t it.

But closer inspection of what the move means might make you think that as much as it may sting the fan in you, the move was the right one to make, and another genius move by Thompson.

Releasing Woodson frees up $10 million in cap space, which will undoubtedly be used to resign players due large extensions-Rodgers, Matthews, and Raji. These are the players the Packers need to build around, and deserve the contracts they will be receiving (hopefully) soon.

Woodson’s play has declined ever since winning Defensive Player of the Year in 2009. During that season and for parts of 2010, his ability to freestyle and make game changing plays was critical. At any time, he could force a fumble or cause an interception without sacrificing the rest of the defense to do so. He was a player opposing offenses always had to make note of.

Beginning in 2011, the decline of Woodson was on full display. No longer able to run, and missing tackles far too often (18 in 2011 alone), his play no longer matched the high salary he was carrying. He could still make big plays, but not at the frequency he was when he signed his extension early in the 2010 season. His decline continued into 2012, when he was a shell of the player he used to be, injured for part of the season, struggling when he was on the field.

Ted Thompson had to make a tough decision: hold on to a “name” player who was clearly on the downside of his career making  a very high salary;  or move on from the past by releasing Woodson and giving younger players like MD Jennings and Jerron McMillian a chance to grow and develop.

After seeing the contributions of another beloved Packer this past season, it is always better to let go a little early than to hold on a little too long.

There is some controversy surrounding Woodson’s release. The fact that he was not offered a pay cut to stay with the Packers might seem to be a poor way to handle a player of Woodson’s stature and tenure. The sad fact is that the NFL is a business, and this decision, a difficult one for fans to grasp, was a smart decision, indeed one of the best of Thompson’s career as the Packers GM.

Ted Thompson does not care what fans think. He does not consider the feelings of others when it comes to matters of the Packers. He only does what he believes is the best for the team. Whether that means trading one legend or releasing another, Ted always acts in the best interest of the team. Always.

It is unclear whether releasing Woodson ranks as the best move Thompson has ever made. I would think moving on from the Favre era is the best move Thompson has ever made, followed closely by signing Woodson in 2006. Both moves were critical to the success of the Packers from 2006 to the present. The release of Woodson will help ensure continued success for them.

John Rehor is a  staff writer at PackersTalk.com and co-host of  Cheesehead Radio. To contact John follow him on Twitter @jrehor or email john rehor@yahoo.com

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  • May be a good decision, but in order for it to be one of his “best” it would have to result in another Super Bowl victory – something that seems far off from this Packers team.

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    • Alright, I’ll ask: what needs to be fixed for this current Packers team to win another Super Bowl?

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  • KT

    Ted sent Favre packing one year too early. The team went an incredible 13 and 3 in Favre last year and he was the primary driver. They lost the NFC championship game, but not because Favre didn’t get them enough points to win. Given the temperature and conditions, the offense scored enough to have won the game in regulation. The stubborn decision to keep Harris one on one with Buriss cost the game. But, it was easier to blame the OT loss on the Quarterback. The next year, with the same team, the new guy led the Packers to a 6 win season. Same, very young team, but without Favre.

    No, cutting a player a little too early is not always the best move and there is a strong case to be made that it cost the Packers a possible Super Bowl. Certainly, there is no guarantee that they would have won in 2010 had Rodgers not been able to spend a couple of not qite ready seasons od prep work, but we know for sure that they won only six the year immediately after what you call one of Thompsons best decisions.

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  • KT

    Ted sent Favre packing one year too early. The team went an incredible 13 and 3 in Favre last year and he was the primary driver. They lost the NFC championship game, but not because Favre didn’t get them enough points to win. Given the temperature and conditions, the offense scored enough to have won the game in regulation. The stubborn decision to keep Harris one on one with Buriss cost the game. But, it was easier to blame the OT loss on the Quarterback. The next year, with the same team, the new guy led the Packers to a 6 win season. Same, very young team, but without Favre.

    No, cutting a player a little too early is not always the best move and there is a strong case to be made that it cost the Packers a possible Super Bowl. Certainly, there is no guarantee that they would have won in 2010 had Rodgers not been able to spend a couple of not qite ready seasons od prep work, but we know for sure that they won only six the year immediately after what you call one of Thompsons best decisions.

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    • You’re assuming that Favre could have repeated the success he had in 2007 in 2008. Granted he did and then some in 2009 with the Vikings, but the what ifs around the 2008 season will be pondered for all eternity.

      Without turning this into a who was right/who was wrong debate in 2008, the most important thing is that the decision to replace Favre with Rodgers ultimately led to a Super Bowl win in 2010. Whether the Packers could have won a title in 2008 with Favre we will never know. I have doubts that he could have repeated his 07 success considering his struggles in 08, and the 05 and 06 seasons were not good. But like I said, we’ll never know.

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