Woodson: 'We'll win games'
Charles Woodson's deal with the Raiders is for one year with a maximum amount of $4.3 million and a base salary of $1.8 million. (AP IMAGES)
Charles Woodson caught wind of Raiders fans mobilizing via social media to greet him at the team's compound for his free-agent visit on Tuesday.
No doubt the turnout of about 200 helped sway his decision.
"I tell you, man, it was overwhelming," Woodson said on a conference call with Bay Area reporters Wednesday afternoon. "I think that if at any time I had ever forgotten what the love was like in Oakland, I was definitely reminded yesterday.
"I think it played a big part (in signing). I was actually scared of leaving the facility and not having a deal done," he added with a laugh. "I don't know if I would have made it out of there. But that was a big deal and seeing that kind of welcome, it definitely put me in the mindset it would be a good decision to make it happen."
Woodson, who turns 37 on Oct. 7, was the No. 4 overall draft pick of the Raiders in 1998 as the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. He spent his first eight years in the NFL playing cornerback for Oakland before leaving as a free agent in 2006 for Green Bay and winning a Super Bowl two years ago.
After the Packers released him in a cost-cutting move this offseason, he initially said he wanted to play for a contender, but instead came to choose the rebuilding Raiders over the likes of Denver, which offered him a contract. He also visited the 49ers.
Per reports, Woodson's deal with the Raiders is for one year with a max amount of $4.3 million and a base salary of $1.8 million.
"As the process rolled on, I knew I wanted to play football," he said. "If it was a team that wasn't quite there but still is a team that is looking on the up, then I was going to do it. And I feel like the Raiders are a team that's looking on the up."
Woodson said his familiarity with Raiders second-year general manager Reggie McKenzie from their time together in Green Bay and McKenzie's vision for Oakland sold him on the direction the team was heading.
Plus, the last time Woodson was in the Raiders' building, in 2005, was a lifetime ago in terms of regime change. The change in vibe, he said, was palpable.
"Having Reggie in there and having somebody that's really in that decision-making role other than Mr. Al Davis is definitely a different vibe," Woodson said. "It seems like there's more of a control, as far as what they're able to do and what they want to implement, as far as their team is concerned.
"I think it's a good vibe in there."
So what does Woodson, at 36-going-on-37 with a Hall of Fame resume that includes eight Pro Bowl selections, three first-team All Pro nods, an NFL defensive rookie of the year award as well as an NFL defensive player of the year honor bring to the Raiders' table?
"I'm a football player, man, so I'm just going to bring a lot of intensity," he said. "Somebody that's passionate about the game, and a guy that knows how to make plays. That's what I'm going to bring. I mean, I think when guys watch me play…that raises the level of other guys, because of the way I play the game.
"I'm going to bring that mindset, that mentality of the game…and have fun doing it."
Woodson figures to make the move to free safety full-time now, to "roam around and make plays," he said, and if that sounds familiar to Raiders fans, it should. It's what Rod Woodson did when he came to Oakland in 2002 and solidified a secondary that helped the Raiders reach the Super Bowl. It was also the last time the Raiders experienced a winning season.
The elder Woodson had already made the switch from corner to free safety before getting to Oakland but it was in that 2002 season when Rod Woodson had a career-high eight interceptions and returned two for touchdowns, including the memorable 98-yarder to swing the season at Denver on Monday Night Football.
Does C-Wood anticipate having similar success?
"I plan on having it," he said. "I wouldn't be out there trying to continue to play if I didn't think it was going to happen. I would have just retired if I thought I couldn't go out there and be the best player on the field."
Woodson, though, has broken his collarbone twice in the past three years. He said it's healed now, though, after missing nine games last year, saying it's "great."
That could also potentially describe the booty cornerback Tracy Porter stands to collect as he currently owns No. 24, the digits work by Woodson in his halcyon Raiders days. It's a jersey that is still among the most popular rocked by fans on gamedays at the Coliseum.
"We definitely have to have that conversation, though," Woodson said of Porter. "We haven't had it yet. Raider Nation has me back, but I don't know if they'll have me (fully) back without the '24' on my back."
Perhaps some cash and some wine (Woodson is the proprietor of a wine made in Napa) could convince Porter to make the switch? But the proximity to his off-the-field business had little to do with his decision to return to Oakland.
"Zero," Woodson said. "This was all about football. This was all about continuing my football career, and having an opportunity to go out there and help a team win. That was bottom line for me."
And keep in mind, Woodson was not signed to simply retire a Raider or to mentor the younger guys. Though he believes that is part of his role. Owner Mark Davis reiterated as much to CSNCalifornia.com earlier in the day.
"I try not to step on any coaches' toes," he said. "Whatever input I can give those guys, that's definitely what I'm going to do. And if I can be a help to them, and it's going to help us win, ultimately, then I have to do it."
Beyond being greeted by the adoring mass of fans, Woodson saw familiar faces on his tour of his first NFL home. Even if kicker Sebastian Janikowski is the only player remaining from Woodson's first tour with the Raiders. There were also equipment and film staff and who many think is the greatest cornerback in franchise history.
"It had been a while since I had seen Willie Brown and he's one of my favorite people, man, ever," Woodson said. "We always joke about who the real '24' is. So it was good to have that back-and-forth with him and get the deal done and then call him and say, 'Willie Brown, I'm coming back. The real 2-4 is coming back.'
"It felt good to be in that building. It felt good."