During his weekly radio show on ESPN Milwaukee, the Packers quarterback threw his support behind the team bringing back the 36-year-old defensive back for a 16th NFL season.
Woodson, who will be 37 in October, has two years left on the extension he signed in 2010, but is scheduled to make $10 million in 2013, including $3.5 million in roster bonuses.Over the next two years, the Packers will have several core players nearing the final years of their contracts, including Rodgers, four-time Pro Bowl linebacker Clay Matthews and defensive tackle B.J. Raji.
Considering the Packers’ secondary operated serviceably without Woodson in the nine games he missed with a broken collarbone, it’s plausible the $20 million he’s due over the next two seasons could go toward extensions for others.
However, Rodgers believes Woodson has a role that cannot be overlooked.
“I think that has to be one of the top priorities,” said Rodgers of bringing back Woodson this offseason. “I’m not sure what that’s going to look like, but I know he is under contract and he is an important part of our football team. I think he adds a lot. He’s still playing at a really high level. He’s obviously very intelligent, sets a good example on preparation.”
Rodgers went on to credit Woodson for the development for the team’s starting cornerbacks, Tramon Williams and Sam Shields, a spot Woodson vacated this year when he made the move to safety in the team’s 3-4 base defense.
The original plan called for Woodson to move to the slot cornerback in the team’s nickel package, but when he broke his collarbone against St. Louis on Oct. 21, it opened the door for rookie Casey Hayward to cement himself in that role.The eight-time Pro Bowler finished his seventh season in Green Bay with 38 tackles, 1½ sacks and one interception in seven regular-season games before returning in time for the playoffs, in which he predominately played safety.
Along with third-year starter Morgan Burnett, the Packers have two prospects at safety in M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian who have shown potential. But Rodgers likes Woodson’s experience.
“I don’t really like talking for other players, especially when there’s money involved,” said Rodgers on if Woodson would accept a pay cut. “That gets a little dicey. That’s something they’ll have to work out, but I’ve said this before about other players, I don’t think you get better by taking from the whole, by taking a core guy, and I think he’s a core guy.”
Simply an honor
After playing in his third Pro Bowl last year, Rodgers voiced his criticism about the lack of effort shown by some of his teammates.
Although Rodgers wasn’t cleared to play in Sunday’s Pro Bowl because of lingering ankle and knee injuries, he still believes the event requires an overhaul with many players opting out of the game and others not showing any real desire to participate.
“I’d be surprised if there isn’t some major changes to the Pro Bowl after this season,” Rodgers said. “I think they’re under contract for this year and then I don’t know that there’s another contract in place. I would guess there will be some changes. Now, I don’t know if that means moving it to the States again or change the format, or just do away with it entirely. I know the league has some stuff to talk about, but I do know there’s got to be some changes coming with that.”
With Rodgers and Matthews sitting out of the Pro Bowl, the Packers’ lone representatives in Hawaii will be center Jeff Saturday and right guard Josh Sitton, who’s making his first appearance.
Sitton, who was a first alternate, earned the nod after San Francisco guard Mike Iupati withdrew because of the 49ers advancing to the Super Bowl.
“I was happy for Josh. He deserves it,” Rodgers said. “Obviously, those big guys don’t get a ton of credit, but he’s a rock there. He’s a great pass-blocker, a very good run-blocker. He deserves to be mentioned among the top offensive linemen in the game every year and I’m glad he finally got the recognition he deserves.”
Rodgers was also very complimentary of the team moving forward with Evan Dietrich-Smith as its center after replacing Saturday in Week 15.