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 firstname.lastname@example.org