New energy surrounds Raiders as OTAs begin
Charles Woodson's wine label, TwentyFour, is made in Napa. (AP)
ALAMEDA -- Charles Woodson, who has lowered his standard of having to play for a contender in 2013, is scheduled to visit the Raiders on Tuesday, according to numerous reports.
And thanks to a social media campaign that has gone viral, Woodson will be welcomed by a cavalcade of Raiders fans at team headquarters as the gathering attempts to convince the Canton-bound defensive back to return to the franchise that drafted him fourth overall in 1998.
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Do the Raiders want Woodson? "Well, we'll see," coach Dennis Allen said after Monday's OTA practice. "I want to do anything I can to help this team get better. So we'll see how that process goes."
The Raiders, though, have stiff competition in the wooing of Woodson, who showed Hall of Fame skills in eight seasons in Oakland but turned into a Hall of Famer in seven years with the Green Bay Packers.
Woodson, a three-time All-Pro, eight-time Pro Bowler and the 2009 NFL defensive player of the year, reportedly already has the financial parameters of a deal in place with the Raiders, believed to be for the minimum, and also has a contract offer from Denver in hand, according to the NFL Network. Besides the Raiders and Broncos, Woodson has also drawn interest from the New York Giants and Carolina Panthers and told The Detroit News over the weekend he would not be against playing for the Detroit Lions.
"If I make it out of my visit with Oakland (without a signed contract), like I just made it out of the visit with Denver, then I'm open," Woodson told The Detroit News.
"What you have to understand, the position I'm in being an older guy in the NFL, 36 years old, last year I broke my collarbone," Woodson added. "I have those two things working against me. NFL teams have you slotted right now, what they're going to pay you and where they're going to make their stand, and that's fine if that's what's going to happen. But that don't mean I have to accept it. Would I be open to playing (for the Lions)? There ain't no question, but the business part has to be right, too, and that's just a fact."
So yes, finances matter. As does Woodson's relationship with Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie from their years together in Green Bay. And while dozens or even hundreds of fans convening at 1220 Harbor Bay Parkway in a show of support for Woodson shouldn't hurt the recruiting effort, the true wild card in this race for a Raider homecoming may rest elsewhere.
Woodson, you'll recall, has a passion for vino and his wine, TwentyFour, is made in Napa. Might a desire to be close to his other professional passion be the hook to return Woodson to the Raiders?