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Value/Analysis: Charles Woodson


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According to the NFL Players Association, the average salary of the five highest-paid cornerbacks in 2004 was $8.816 million. That is how much an NFL team must pay a cornerback who receives a franchise tag by next Tuesday's deadline.


Unless that team is the Raiders and that cornerback is Woodson. They would have to pay more.


The collective bargaining agreement dictates that a player with a franchise tag receives the average of the five highest-paid players at his position, or a 20 percent raise over his previous season's salary, whichever is greater.


Considering Woodson, 28, received $8.7824 million in 2004 as the Raiders' exclusive franchise player -- a costly designation that prevented him from negotiating with any other team -- his new tag would cost the club in excess of $10.529 million.


For the first time since the beginning of the salary-cap era, cornerbacks have surpassed quarterbacks as the NFL's highest-paid players, according to figures supplied by the NFLPA. The NFL's top 10 cornerbacks received $69,379, 001. The league's 10 highest-paid quarterbacks received $68,310.662, a difference of close to $1.1 million.


And so the Raiders must ask themselves: Is Woodson worth that much?


He has an undeniably strong presence in the locker room, particularly after he spoke out publicly against former coach Bill Callahan during the 2003 season. Teammates respect his opinion, and they respect his play.


"The Raiders have to re-sign him, period. Nobody throws to his side of the field,'' said wide receiver Jerry Porter, another potential free agent.


But Woodson also might have worn out his welcome. He is already unpopular in the front office and among the coaching staff for his lack of standout play in 2004 -- Woodson's 73 total tackles ranked third on the team behind safety Ray Buchanan (91) and linebacker Danny Clark (129), and his one interception didn't place him among the NFL's top 30 in that category. And the team's highest-paid player didn't help himself in December with an arrest for public intoxication.


The team has several options as it weighs whether to keep its high- profile, Heisman Trophy-winning cornerback for another season:


-- Exclusive franchise tag: As with last season, Woodson would not be permitted to negotiate with other teams. The cost: prohibitive. Woodson's $10. 529 million tender likely would increase following a readjustment in May.


-- Franchise tag: The Raiders would receive the right of first refusal, and another team would have to give the Raiders two first-round draft choices as compensation if they declined to match an offer.


-- Transition tag: The Raiders would have to offer Woodson a one-year tender of about $6.9 million, the average of the top 10 highest-paid cornerbacks in 2004. For that, they would receive only right-of-first-refusal.


-- Sign and trade: NFL sources say Woodson's agents, Carl Poston, tried to negotiate a long-term extension late last season but was met with a lukewarm response from Raiders' management. An extension signed before the March 2 free-agency deadline also could facilitate a trade for draft picks, a player or a combination of both.


-- Do nothing: Woodson walks away as a free agent, the Raiders bank on Phillip Buchanon and Nnamdi Asomugha as starting corners and use the money on other free-agent priorities, such as a pass-rushing defensive lineman, a running back and linebacker help.


According to several NFL general managers and personnel executives -- none of whom could address the subject of Woodson on the record, citing league tampering rules -- Woodson's value on paper might exceed his actual worth on the field.


"That's a significant amount of money to pay to a player who, in my mind, hasn't improved significantly since his rookie season,'' one NFL general manager said. "He's still a top cornerback, no question. But that position is under scrutiny this offseason.''


Said another personnel executive: "There is no such thing as a 'shutdown' corner anymore.''


The reason: The NFL's stringently enforced "chuck" rule, which penalizes defensive backs for contact with a receiver beyond 5 yards from the line of scrimmage, has proved a deterrent for any cornerback in coverage.


The cost -- 5 yards and a first down for the offense, the kind of flag that can turn around a game.


And no Raiders player was responsible for more of those kinds of costly penalties than Woodson, according to an analysis of 2004's play-by-play for all 16 regular-season games.


In 12 starts and 13 game appearances during the 2004 season, Woodson was cited for eight pass-interference, defensive-holding and illegal-contact penalties, a full one-third of the team's total of 24 pass-interference, defensive-holding and illegal-contact infractions.


"There is more of a premium on pass rushers now,'' one NFL executive said. "Five quarterbacks passed for more than 4,000 yards. There were more 300-yard passing games (81) than ever before. Cornerbacks just don't give you the bang for the buck they once did.''





Worth the money?

Last season, Charles Woodson was flagged for eight pass-interference, defensive-holding, illegal-contact or face-mask penalties, with each infraction giving the opposing team a first down. In all, Woodson was responsible for one-third of the Raiders' 24 defensive-holding, illegal- contact and pass-interference calls. Cornerback Denard Walker was the second- biggest offender in the secondary, accounting for six penalties, followed by Nnamdi Asomugha (three).





Setting the standards







TY LAW, Patriots




















DRE BLY, Lions








CHAD SCOTT, Steelers






Note: 2004 salaries of top non "franchise" cornerbacks, according to NFL Players Association











10 million dollars for a cornerback. Can't see it. Cornerbacks have become an overrated position now. At least a shutdown cornerback. I would rather have a strong linebacker core than can shut down the run and/or a defensive line that can put pressure on the QB.


Offenses are using the rules to their advantage and I don't see secondaries having much of a chance to stop them.



Patriots won without Ty Law they replaced him with a rookie and made Troy Brown their nickleback. The Bronco's traded Clinton Portis to get the supposed best corner in the game Champ Bailey and they got used by the Colts. Patrick Surtain is on the trading block. And just how did Antoine Winfield become the highest paid corner in the NFL? Doesn't the Vikings defense suck?



Let someone else pay Woodson 10 million. He gets penalized too much, doesn't make enough plays or stay healthy enough for the money...........

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Agree 100%. CB's aren't worth that kind of cash. As a matter of fact, they never were. Deion Sanders blew the pay scale for CB's out of the water, and it's been out of whack ever since. I am convinced now, more than ever, that CB's are going to be dropping in the draft. So will the desire to pay them big money in free agency. If the "best" CB's in the league, Bailey and Woodson, had 4 picks COMBINED all year, and looked VERY bad on several occasions, why spend the money on them? Defensive lineman are where it's at nowadays.

Edited by CaptainHook
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Holy Cow, I rember the Lions were roasted in the Press for signing Blye to a huge contract.


looking at these numbers, he seems like a bargain now.


I would try and trade Woodson for a first rounder.







I don't see how the Raiders could do that. They would have to sign him for 10 mil first.... who would make that trade in the salary cap reality of the NFL? I bet he walks, and signs somewhere for about 7 mil, and he'll be lucky to get that. Leading a coaching mutiny and then a DWI arrest doesn't make him any more appealing either.

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