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Freeney And Woodson In The Nfc South?


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Freeney and Woodson in the NFC South?

By Pat Yasinskas | Feb 16, 2013 10:51 AM

It’s that time of year again. Big name veterans are getting released around the league and that’s leading to the usual questions of if the new guys on the street could end up in the NFC South.



Indianapolis released defensive end Dwight Freeney and Green Bay parted ways with defensive back Charles Woodson on Friday. Let’s take a look and see if there are any potential fits in the NFC South.

Atlanta Falcons. This team has been trying for years to add another quality pass-rusher besides John Abraham and nothing has worked out well. That’s why I could see Freeney as a possibility. He is 32, so he’s not a long-term answer. But the Falcons haven’t been shy about bringing in veterans in the past. Still, I don’t think the Falcons will try to pounce on Freeney immediately. They’d be wise to wait a bit and see what else might come available. I don’t see Woodson landing in Atlanta. The Falcons might be in the market for a cornerback, depending on what happens with Brent Grimes and Dunta Robinson, but Woodson’s not a cornerback anymore. He moved to safety last season. Assuming the Falcons can keep William Moore from leaving as a free agent, they’re set at safety.

Carolina Panthers. We really don’t know yet if new general manager Dave Gettleman is willing to bring in veterans or if he wants to put his stamp on this team with youth. But, even if Gettleman is open to bringing in older players, his hands are tied due to the team’s salary-cap situation.

New Orleans Saints. The Saints also are tight against the salary cap, but they have more wiggle room than Carolina. The Saints have shown a past willingness to bring in veterans, but they’ll have to come at the right price this season. Adding Woodson would be a lot like what the Saints did in 2009 when they brought in Darren Sharper. I don’t know that Freeney would be a great fit in the 3-4 scheme the Saints are switching to. He may be too small to play defensive end in that system and I’m not sure he could make the switch to outside linebacker at this point in his career.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs like to talk about building through the draft. But they’ve been known to make some isolated exceptions (see last year’s signing of tight end Dallas Clark). But I don’t expect the Bucs to jump into immediate pursuit of Freeney or Woodson. If they can re-sign defensive end Michael Bennett, they’re pretty well set at defensive end. The Bucs are still waiting to hear if safety Ronde Barber is going to retire or play another year. If he retires, Woodson could become a possibility, but my guess is the Bucs would want to go with someone younger.

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By Kareem Copeland

Published: February 15, 2013 at 7:15 PM

The Green Bay Packers have released Charles Woodson, 2009's NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

"We are grateful for all that Charles has given to the Green Bay Packers over the past seven years," Packers general manager Ted Thompson said in a statement. "He has been an integral part of the Packers' success and our Super Bowl title in 2010 would not have been possible without his contributions.

"A once-in-a-generation talent as a player, he is also a great leader and ambassador for the organization off the field. Charles will always be a member of the Packers family and we look forward to his eventual induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. We wish him and his family all the best."

Woodson was due $9 million in 2013 and would count $10 million against the cap.

"It's part of the business," agent Carl Poston told NFL.com's Ian Rapoport before the Packers made the release official. "I just talked to (Woodson). He sounds like he has a lot of football left. He'd like to go play for a contender, win another Super Bowl."

Woodson moved to safety last season as his cover skills declined. The Packers went with the cornerback trio of Tramon Williams, Sam Shields and rookie Casey Hayward. They have young talent in safeties Morgan Burnett, M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian.

It will be interesting to see where Woodson lands. He's 36 years old and not the same playmaker he once was. But Woodson brings a strong presence to the locker room and is an upgrade from over plenty of corners in the league.

He can cover on the inside, matches up well with athletic tight ends and is still disruptive around the line of scrimmage. His intelligence enables him to be a coach on the field and makes up for some physical limitations. Woodson always was a risk-taker, but that started to become a problem as he lost a step.

You have to take the good with the bad when it comes to Woodson at this point of his career.

There will be teams that want Woodson on the roster. He could be the missing veteran piece for an organization ready for a championship run.

Follow Kareem Copeland on Twitter @kareemcopeland.

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By Chris Wesseling

Published: February 15, 2013 at 8:33 PM

The Indianapolis Colts are moving on from impending free agents Dwight Freeney and Austin Collie.

The Colts met with both Freeney and Collie on Friday and told the two that they will not be re-signed, a team source told NFL.com's Albert Breer. The Colts later confirmed that Freeney will not be back with the team next season.

"Few people have meant as much to the success of the Indianapolis Colts as Dwight Freeney," Colts owner Jim Irsay said in a team release. "He has been a dominant player, which is all the more impressive considering his size for his position, and he has won a lot of games for this franchise. Dwight was an artist, a joy to watch, and the dedication he put toward his craft was a rare quality. We will miss him, but look forward to his future induction into the Hall of Fame and Colts Ring of Honor."

The 11-year veteran racked up 107.5 sacks while earning seven Pro Bowl nods and three first-team All-Pro selections as one of the NFL's elite pass rushers of the past decade.

"I was very surprised to hear they wanted to go in a different direction," Freeney told ESPN's Ed Werder. "Would have been nice to retire a Colt."

Freeney's exit is hardly a shocker to league observers, however. It's a tacit admission from the team that the 32-year-old was a poor fit for head coach Chuck Pagano's 3-4 defense. Look for a contender with a 4-3 scheme to sign Freeney as a situational pass rusher. With two or three more seasons of double-digit sacks, he could lock up a Hall of Fame bust in Canton.

The Colts' decision to cut ties with Collie was similarly predictable. Snakebitten by serious concussions and lingering after effects, the wide receiver missed the 2012 season with a ruptured right patellar tendon. A team source opined to the Star's Bob Kravitz that Collie would have put up numbers similar to Wes Welker had he stayed healthy and teamed with Peyton Manning for the majority of his career.

Collie is fighting an uphill battle to make an impact in 2013. If he does manage to recapture some semblance of his pre-injury form, Collie is a good bet to resurface with Manning and the Denver Broncos as Brandon Stokley's successor in the slot.

Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.

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By Gregg Rosenthal

Published: February 15, 2013 at 10:15 AM

Modified: February 15, 2013 at 4:17 PM

Charles Woodson's career is in a much difference place than the last time he was a free agent in 2006. Back then, he wanted to revive a career that wasn't quite living up to potential.

Now Woodson, 36, is looking for one more chance to get a ring.

Woodson was wildly overpaid by the Green Bay Packers, so the release comes as no surprise. But he's not done as a player. Woodson's agent told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network that Woodson wants to play for a contender. He should still have options.

One personnel executive told NFL.com's Albert Breer that Woodson is "in some decline but still has enough to compete to start in 2013. ... Still quick and instinctive."

That sounds right. Woodson may not be an every-down player anymore, but he could help a team as a slot cornerback and/or safety. His leadership and knowledge could be a nice addition to a contender, as long as Woodson isn't expecting to get paid as a star anymore. His speed was noticeably diminished in the playoffs this season and he was out of place in run support against the San Francisco 49ers.

Woodson has earned enough money in his career. Now he'd surely love to chase another ring, which could burnish his solid Hall of Fame credentials. Here are some of the teams that could be fits for Woodson:

New England Patriots: Yeah, Bill Belichick has been known to sign an intelligent, versatile veteran player at the end of his career. Woodson could help Tavon Wilson, who may be slated to start opposite Devin McCourty. This one almost makes too much sense to happen.

Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens are going to be very thin at safety if Ed Reed leaves town. Having Woodson and Bernard Pollard in the same secondary could make the Ravens too slow though.

Denver Broncos: Denver has not shied away from veteran players in the secondary over the last few years. Their young safety crew could use a mentor at the position.

Houston Texans: The AFC South champs have four free agents at cornerback and safety, including starting free safety Glover Quin. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is good at coming up with plans that go to a player's strengths.

Minnesota Vikings: This wouldn't be like Brett Favre heading to rivals, but it would be weird. The Vikings have a need for help in the secondary because they don't really have a starter in place opposite Harrison Smith at safety.

Seattle Seahawks: I wouldn't have thought of this one on my own; the Seahawks are pretty well stocked. But Richard Sherman invited Woodson to come to Seattle on Twitter (and on NFL Network's "NFL Total Access", airing Friday night), so who am I to argue?

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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Sign Freeney, draft a DE in the 1st round- DE fixed

Sign a big DT (there's a lot of them set to hit FA who would be quality starters and much needed upgrade)- DT fixed

If we're really lucky sign OLB Thomas Howard to a 1 year deal, move Spoon to MLB- LB fixed

Cut Robinson (he's tough but way overpaid and has 0 ball skills even though he had a bunch of INTs as a rookie), sign a cheaper option, we need DL not CBs, Grimes if the price is right, Woodson if we really think physically he can get through another year, maybe Clements, or a guy like Leodis McKelvin on a 1 year prove it deal, then draft a CB in the early-mid rounds to compete for the nickel with McClain and be depth

Resign Moore

Defense fixed

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