Neil’s NFL Daily: May 22, 2013
It’s one thing to make a fanfare of announcing the Super Bowl sites for the 2015 and 2016 seasons, but when the whole of western civilization already knows it’s San Francisco and Houston, it feels a bit like scheduling a press conference to tell us the sun is coming up tomorrow. Luckily a couple of significant signings mean we’ve got more relevant things to discuss, so let’s head to the West coast to look at the moves made by the Raiders and Chargers.
Wednesday, May 22
Oakland Lands Charles Woodson
With Denver very much in the hunt, perhaps surprisingly, Woodson chose to return to the Silver and Black yesterday and signed a one-year deal which could pay him anything between $700k and $4.3M. It’s probably more than Denver offered and on the surface may say he’s more interested in maximizing his financial income than winning another ring. However, looking at the players on each team, it may ultimately be more a question of “fit” than anything else.
Last year Woodson ostensibly played a generic safety position for the Packers, generally moving away from the slot corner/box safety role he filled so well for the majority of his career with them. However he did still play over the slot on occasion and also was within eight yards of the line of scrimmage on 66% of snaps – fourth-most in the NFL.
In Denver, Rahim Moore is the defacto deep “free” safety and despite “that play”, as Peter Damilatis explained so well yesterday, is still a very good player and very much in the Broncos’ plans. Playing in the slot they have one of the most underrated players in football in Chris Harris Jr. — No. 64 in our Top 101 NFL players — and Woodson can no longer compete with that level of play. Therefore, the only option other than limited snaps in sub-packages, would be taking over from Mike Adams. Given both Woodson’s injury history and the fact he and Adams are now very similar in ability, I don’t believe the Broncos could guarantee him a starting position and if even if they did, it really wouldn’t be that sensible a decision.
Now the Raiders are a slightly different matter. While Tyvon Branch fulfills the job that would probably suit Woodson best (strong safety) and they have a decent slot corner in Joselio Hansen, as much as I like Usama Young and would like to see him given an extended shot, he’s never played more than 691 snaps in a year since he joined the league in 2007. With a whole new defense that will probably only start two players from last season, experience will be needed and who better to bring that to Oakland than Woodson?
San Diego takes out Insurance with Max Starks
It’s possible the coaches saw something in the OTA’s they didn’t like about King Dunlap at left tackle or just felt they’d prefer a veteran presence but, for better or worse, the Chargers brought in Starks to bolster their O-line. They already have three players not currently slated to start who have played multiple games at tackle, but the fact that all of Michael Harris, Jeromey Clary and Brandyn Dombrowski have at one point or another been synonymous with the debacle which is the San Diego line, the new regime clearly felt uncomfortable with the group.
Dunlap came across as a UFA from the Eagles on a two-year, $1.85M APY deal (just under $1M guaranteed) and it seemed like a pragmatic move. Starting 12 games for Philadelphia last year Dunlap acquitted himself well; only twice looking poor (against the Saints and at Dallas) and also keeping a clean sheet against the Giants and Falcons.
It seems, though, that wasn’t enough for the front office and they decided to add Starks yesterday. The problem is that while Starks has more experience than Dunlap he was nowhere near as competent in 2012. In pass protection Dunlap ranked 15th in Pass Blocking Efficiency while Starks only managed 45th out of 52 ranked players. In addition, only Marshall Newhouse, Tyler Polumbus and Jeff Backus ranked lower than Starks as a run blocker. Although Dunlap was far from good he wasn’t close to that bad.
So is this insurance to mitigate against throwing Michael Harris to the lions once more, or a (perhaps premature) view that Dunlap can’t cut it? We’ll find out over the coming months.
Other editions of Neil’s NFL Daily can be found HERE
Follow Neil on Twitter: @PFF_Neil