Woodson: 'NFL is a league of no patience'
Charles Woodson made $3.3 million last season -- $1.7 million in salary and bonuses and $1.5 million in incentives. (USATSI)
Charles Woodson proved he can still play despite advanced age.
The veteran safety doesn’t believe he has to do that again. Carl Poston, Woodson’s agent the last 16 years, relayed that sentiment on Friday in a conversation with CSN Bay Area.
Contract structure has been a hang up in talks between an impending free agent who wants to remain in Oakland and a Raiders team that wants him back. Woodson isn’t looking for a massive pay raise or a multi-year deal. He just wants something that shows greater confidence in what he can still do. In short, Woodson doesn't want to sing for his supper.
He had to last year.
Woodson signed a one-year deal with the Raiders before last season loaded with incentives based largely on playing time. The deal was friendly to a team with salary-cap struggles desperately trying to dig itself out.
At the time, it made sense for both sides. Woodson was 36, trying to rebound after missing the final nine games of 2012 with a broken collarbone. The veteran safety had to show that he could stay healthy, play at a high level and be a veteran leader on a team without continuity.
Check, check and check.
Woodson played 99.3 percent of the Raiders’ 1,074 defensive snaps, ranked No. 2 on the team with 133 tackles and had two sacks, four forced fumbles and an interception.
He made $3.3 million for that effort, with $1.7 million in salary and bonuses and $1.5 million more in playing time incentives.
Woodson’s 2013 contract certainly worked well for a team trying to acquire quality players under strict salary-cap constraints. Woodson’s playing time bonuses fell under “Not Likely to be Earned” incentives -- because he played just seven games in 2012 -- which don’t count against the cap until they are earned. That kept the original cap number down for a player who became a major contributor for the Raiders defense.
The Raiders are no longer handcuffed. They have roughly $65 million in cap space this offseason, a total expected to increase when the 2014 salary cap is formally announced. Offering more money in base salary and a signing bonus as opposed to incentives wouldn’t be difficult.
Woodson believes he’s earned a more straightforward contract despite the fact he'll turn 38 on Oct. 7, and should be rewarded for last year’s production and next year's potential. Woodson is an old man by NFL standards, but Raiders coach Dennis Allen said last week he has "something left in the tank."
“When you get to that age, you never know when the tank’s going to empty out," Allen said. "He brought a lot to the table for our football team this past season. He’s a guy we’d like to bring back. There’s a business side to anything that you do, but I thought that, from a leadership perspective and from a playing perspective, I thought he brought a lot to the table.”
In a Thursday interview with Sirius XM radio, Woodson expressed frustration with age weighing heavy on contract talks despite recent production.
Woodson remains hopeful that a deal will get done with the Raiders. He said he fell in love with playing for the Raiders last season and wants to help the team that drafted him return to glory.
“He's invested in them now, and committed to making them a contender,” Poston said. “He knows how to lead. He's a coach on the field, and I think the Raiders need that type of leadership, skill level and that type of commitment to turning this franchise around.”
Woodson has talked about returning for months now, but told Sirius XM radio that he would give retirement “serious consideration” if the numbers offered weren’t right.
Poston isn't thinking too far ahead. He remains focused on reaching an accord with the Raiders.
“That's the first option,” he said. “We will pursue that, and if that doesn't look likely, we'll have to consider something else.”