Packers release future Hall of Famer Woodson

GREEN BAY, Wis. — After seven seasons with the Packers, veteran defensive back Charles Woodson has been released by Green Bay.

The Packers made the announcement official with a press release Friday afternoon.

“We are grateful for all that Charles has given to the Green Bay Packers over the past seven years,” general manager Ted Thompson said in a statement. “He has been an integral part of the Packers’ success and our Super Bowl title in 2010 would not have been possible without his contributions.

“A once-in-a-generation talent as a player, he is also a great leader and ambassador for the organization off the field. Charles will always be a member of the Packers family and we look forward to his eventual induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. We wish him and his family all the best.”

The first indication of Woodson’s pending release came from a Friday morning post on his winery’s Twitter account, TwentyFourWines.

“Thank you Green Bay; It was a great run,” the tweet said, followed by a picture of Woodson in a Packers uniform.

Releasing Woodson saves the Packers more than $10 million on their 2013 salary cap.

Woodson, 36, suffered a broken collarbone this past season and missed nine games. He recorded only 1.5 sacks and one interception, but the NFL’s 2009 Defensive Player of the Year and former Heisman Trophy winner doesn’t want this to be the end of his career.

“Absolutely,” Woodson said Dec. 21 when asked if he plans to play in 2013. “Until somebody tells me I’m not, this (Green Bay) is where I plan on playing.”

The Packers added cornerback Casey Hayward in the second round and safety Jerron McMillian in the fourth round of the 2012 draft, but Woodson didn’t see that as any indication he would be released this offseason.

“If that conversation comes around, it comes around,” Woodson said in December. “But, as far as I know is, anything that I expect is that I’ll be a Green Bay Packer. That’s all I have to say about that.”

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Woodson’s agent, Carl Poston, indicated that his client will play elsewhere next season instead of retiring.

“I just talked to him; He sounds like he has a lot of football left,” Poston said via Rapoport. “He’d like to go play for a contender, win another Super Bowl. He caught that bug.”

When the Packers signed Woodson in 2006, the only other interested team in the free agent cornerback was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But, when Green Bay offered more money, Woodson, 29 at the time, agreed to terms with the Packers on a seven-year deal worth $52 million.

Green Bay was coming off a 4-12 season in 2005 when Woodson was added to the roster. A year later, the Packers went 8-8 and, in 2007, were 13-3 and in the NFC Championship Game.

Early in his career, Woodson never lived up to being the fourth overall pick in 1998 while playing for the Oakland Raiders. However, once Woodson got to Green Bay, his NFL career took off. He had a then-career-high eight interceptions in his first season with the Packers and surpassed that total in 2009 with nine interceptions.

Wherever Woodson plays in 2013, that team will be getting a player who is ranked 19th in the NFL’s all-time interceptions rankings. Woodson is also an eight-time Pro Bowl selection and a seven-time All-Pro.

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