Could Woodson return to Raiders?

Could Woodson return to Raiders?
May 9, 2013, 11:00 pm
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I am just a ballplayer. I need to be on a team.
—Charles Woodson

That thud you heard Thursday? It might have been Charles Woodson's price tag dropping. It was definitely his desire to play for a contender this coming season.

Woodson, who flashed Hall of Fame talent in Oakland over the first eight years of his NFL career but became a Hall of Famer in seven years with Green Bay, told the NFL Network he wants to play this season and has, in a sense, lowered his standards for a new employer.

"When this process first started out, that was my thing -- I needed to go to a contender," Woodson said. "I know I am towards the end of my career. At this point, I want to play football. So if it is a rebuilding stage, at this point if that is the circumstances I have to play under, then that is what I am going to do."

Paging the Raiders. Because Woodson's words are a game changer.

While Woodson seemingly lowering himself to play for a non-contender could be considered a backhanded slap, and who would want a player who believes he is bigger than the team? Plus, Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie has said the Raiders plan on competing, but they do not figure to be playing for a Super Bowl appearance in 2013. Not when they are in full rebuild mode.

So how would Woodson, who turns 37 on Oct. 7, fit in Oakland? For one, McKenzie has already said how much he admires him, having witnessed his play first-hand in Green Bay for six years and a Super Bowl championship. Woodson, on his way to Canton, might not be the game-changer he was even five years ago, but he could teach the likes of Tyvon Branch and Usama Young and Brandian Ross and, especially, top draft pick D.J. Hayden the ways of the secondary.

But Woodson, who earlier this offseason visited the 49ers, would have to come at the right price. Meaning he'd have to come cheap. And the longer he, like other veterans, stay on the market, the more his price comes down.

"It is kind of the process, but at the same time it is frustrating," Woodson said. "You have guys that can flat out play football. You look at Dwight Freeney and what he is able to do. (Indianapolis) had a system last year that is different than he is used to playing, but he can play football. John Abraham, he led his (Atlanta) team in sacks and you say, 'We don’t have a spot for you on our roster?' I can’t understand that.

"Myself, I am just a ballplayer. I need to be on a team."

But could that team be the Raiders? Only McKenzie knows.