In the 1998 NFL Draft, the Oakland Raiders selected Charles Woodson with the fourth overall pick. A selection that was widely considered a home run, Woodson would deliver a Pro-Bowl reputation during his tenure in Oakland.
In his rookie season, Woodson was named the AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the year, while racking up 62 tackles, five interceptions and 20 passes defensed. In addition, he would be named to his first Pro-Bowl.
Following a stellar rookie season, Woodson would deliver once again in 1999. Despite only one interception to his credit, Woodson would be named to his second Pro-Bowl, while being named to his first All-Pro selection.
The significant drop in his interception production, had less to do with his play, and more to do with opposing quarterbacks fearing him, as they often shied away from his side of the field, much like all-time great Deion Sanders.
Woodson would go on and have two more Pro-Bowl seasons in 2000 and 2001, before eventually leaving for greener pastures with the Green Bay Packers in 2006.
Woodson looking for a fresh start, inked a 7-year, $52.5 million contract. The deal was surprisingly front-loaded with incentives and bonuses, which he eventually cashed in on. During his tenure in Green Bay, Woodson would go on to display a potential Hall of Fame career in Lambeau, amassing 38 interceptions, 99 passes defensed, and nine touchdowns. Not to mention, a Super Bowl victory in 2010. However, like most things, all good things must come to an end, and Woodson, on the wrong side of his 30’s, is again looking for work in the NFL.
With the free-agency period set to begin on March 12,2013, I believe the best landing spot would be the Oakland Raiders. That’s right, Woodson finishes his career where it began, bleeding Silver and Black.
After all, once a Raider always a Raider, and if General Manager Reggie McKenzie wants to win, he should seriously consider the future Hall of Famer.
For starters, Woodson would bring leadership, accountability, and discipline to an unstable secondary. No current player in the Raiders secondary is either feared nor respected, making Woodson the perfect scenario.
Raiders safety Michael Huff and Tyvon Branch are serviceable at best, making Woodson an immediate upgrade. Woodson brings ball-hawking ability that has not been seen since he departed via free-agency. However, since Huff and Branch are both under contract through the 2015 and 2016 seasons respectively, sliding Woodson back to corner would make for a wise investment.
In my last article on Niner Noise, titled “Why The 40-Yard Dash Is Overrated In NFL Combine,” the late Al Davis tried to find Woodson’s replacement by drafting speedsters Stanford Routt and Fabian Washington. Both players have vastly underachieved during their short NFL careers, while setting back the Raiders franchise.
In a last second effort, Davis tried once again to find a shut-down corner in 2011 by drafting DeMarcus Van Dyke, but to no avail.
Bringing back Woodson would not only bring back a proven veteran but a icon the Raider Nation can all relate to.