The Oakland Raiders have signed veteran defensive back Charles Woodson, the player they originally drafted in 1998. The move concludes a complete overhaul of the Raiders' secondary.
Woodson returns to Oakland, after spending seven seasons with the Green Bay Packers. He has signed a one-year deal with the Silver and Black, according to Fox Sports' Jay Glazer.
Woodson won a Super Bowl during his time with the Packers and became one of the best hybrid defenders in football. Capable of lining up as an outside or slot cornerback, Woodson has also seen time at free safety and even linebacker.
He was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2009, as a vital component of Dom Capers' zone-blitz schemes in Green Bay. Woodson's performances clearly impressed current Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie, who worked for the Packers until 2012.
Oakland head coach Dennis Allen runs a multiple-front defense and should find plenty of ways to free Woodson to attack offenses. Woodson is a dangerous blitzer and his presence will increase the versatility of Oakland's pressure packages.
The Oakland Raiders have reportedly agreed a deal to sign ace kick returner Josh Cribbs. ProFootballTalk.com reports that the former Cleveland Browns special teams standout has decided to accept an offer to join the Silver and Black.
The move gives the Raiders a major boost on special teams and a versatile weapon for their sub-packages on offense. In particular, Cribbs should be able to help out on third downs.
However, his true value is likely to be in the return game. The 29-year-old has excelled returning kickoffs and punts, since entering the NFL in 2005. He was not quite at his best in 2012, but still produced 1,178 yards on kickoff returns. He also chipped in with 457 yards on punt returns.
The Raiders frankly need Cribbs to again dominate in the return game. He can help win the field position battle, for a team in complete rebuild mode on both sides of the ball. The offense is not expected to be lighting up scoreboards in 2013.
The San Diego Chargers have invited free agent pass-rusher Dwight Freeney to visit, after losing outside linebacker Melvin Ingram for the season. Freeney's visit was reported by U-T San Diego, after Chargers.com confirmed Ingram has torn his ACL.
Taking the first steps to signing Freeney is a smart move by the Chargers. Ingram's loss robs the defense of its only real pure pass-rusher.
The Chargers are well-stocked on the inside. Linebackers Donald Butler and rookie Manti Te'o will form a punishing duo.
San Diego also boast considerable talent along the interior of the defensive line. Young tackles Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes have the potential to dominate.
However, without Ingram, there is little threat from the edges. Even at 33, Freeney remains a dynamic outside pass-rusher.
The Tennessee Titans are close to signing veteran defensive end John Abraham. NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reports the Titans hope to complete the signing this week. The Titans need the experienced and skilled pass-rusher to improve their ability to pressure quarterbacks.
The Titans have struggled getting to the passer during the last two seasons. Coordinator Jerry Gray has been forced to mix and match a variety of fronts and personnel combinations to try and scheme some pressure.
Gray has resorted to three-man lines and various defensive back blitzes with little success. The main problem has been the lack of a stud pass-rusher up front.
Ends Kamerion Wimbley and Derrick Morgan have led the way in the sacks department. However, both managed less than seven sacks apiece in 2012.
Signing Abraham would at last give Gray the premium rush end he needs to make his schemes work. He may be 34, but Abraham remains as dangerous off the edge as any pass-rusher in the NFL.
9th Overall – DE/LB Ezekiel Ansah, Brigham Young University
Reason: The Jets have needed to upgrade their lackluster pass rush for the past couple seasons now. With recent rumors of Bills possibly selecting a quarterback 8th overall, there is a strong possibility that Ansah might slide to the Jets if a combination of Geno Smith, Ryan Nassib, or Matt Barkley are selected by two teams ahead of the Jets.
13th Overall – WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia University
Reason: The Jets have to get more offensive weapons capable of scoring touchdowns. Austin has a similar skillset as a former Marty Morhinweg wide receiver – DeSean Jackson. If Austin is able to contribute in the same capacity as Jackson in Morhinweg's system, the Jets should have an easier time scoring on offense next season. The Jets may also look to trade back in an effort to acquire more mid round selections during the draft.