Heading into the offseason, it seemed unlikely the Packers would retain the 37-year-old Woodson at that price, but there was a possibility Green Bay could bring Woodson back at a lower number.
While that possibility still exists - Ted Thompson could certainly throw out a number and if Woodson can't match it on the open market, a return to Green Bay would be possible - it seems more likely that Woodson will look to a team like New England or Baltimore to finish his career. Furthermore, early reports are that Woodson was uninterested in a lower number with the Packers and believes he will have plenty of suitors for his ball-hawking prowess.
There will be time to look back at what Charles Woodson has meant to the Packers and likewise what Green Bay has meant for Woodson, but for now, the impact on the team heading into 2013 isn't as severe as the salary cap savings.
Woodson played 629 snaps for Green Bay and was a shell of his former self, with just one interception and five pass break-ups, as he battled through injuries and a position change.
For all of the great memories Packers fans will have of Charles Woodson, perhaps the most indelible image of his final season in Green Bay will be Colin Kaepernick galloping down the sidelines, torching Woodson toward the end zone in the playoffs.
Casey Hayward, even as a rookie, was a better option in the slot last year than Woodson, and Woodson's switch to safety wasn't the success Green Bay hoped it would be.
Unlike Donald Driver, Green Bay simply didn't have a choice but to play Woodson when he was healthy. The team had no better options. There was no Randall Cobb or James Jones to plug in.
At this point in his career, Woodson is a sub-package defensive back who could help a team like San Francisco or New England get over the top and win a championship. That's what he's looking for.
No Packers fans should begrudge him that opportunity because of how much Woodson has done for the team.
Despite a lackluster 2012 season, Woodson was the Defensive Player of the Year the same season Darrelle Revis had one of the single most dominating performances by a cover corner in NFL history. The next year, he lead a punishing defense with five forced fumbles, helping Green Bay to a Super Bowl title.
The eight-time Pro Bowler rejuvenated his career with the Packers in 2006 and cemented himself as one of the greatest defensive backs in history. He'll go down in Green Bay annals with names like Adderly and Wood, with a kind of deference that perhaps neither of those names can match.
Financially, it doesn't make sense pay Woodson the $10 million he is owed for what the team would be getting on the field. As a leader and a role-model, he has value, but at a certain point you have to trust the other players on your team to step up and fill that void. Morgan Burnett showed glimpses of promise this season, both as a play-maker and a leader.
Charles Woodson is an all-time great, the kind of player you can tell your kids you got to watch. His interception returns were scintillating, while his willingness to play physically at the line of scrimmage showed a toughness and attitude that was belied by his size.
This was a player who broke his collarbone in the Super Bowl laying out to make an interception. While it wasn't true his whole career, in Green Bay, no one worked harder or played harder on the field than Woodson.
He beat Revis in 2009 for DPOY because he made plays no other cornerback could or would make. Woodson was just as likely to jump over an offensive lineman at the goal line to make a tackle as he was to bait a quarterback into throwing a pick and then take it to the house.
His dominating performance against Dallas in 2009 turned Green Bay's season around. A whopping 38 of 55 career interceptions were in Green Bay, despite playing a year more with the Oakland Raiders, and 9 of his 11 return touchdowns were in a Packers uniform.
In terms of his return touchdowns, just his Packers career would be good enough for third all-time for return touchdowns, tied with Aeneas Williams, Ken Houston, and the great Deion Sanders.
If Woodson returns one more interception for a touchdown, he will be tied for the all-time best with his namesake Rod Woodson.
There's no doubting the impact Woodson had on this defense over his time in Green Bay, no way to downplay the effect he's had on the fans, and the love he's shown to the community.
Packers fans, perhaps more than most, understand the business of the NFL because of the way Ted Thompson has operated. From a business standpoint, this move makes sense. Woodson's skills have slipped significantly and the Packers have the defensive backs, at least at corner, to mitigate the loss (Woodson's departure may, however, make it more likely that the Packers target a safety in the draft in April).
Nearly every team has a decision like this to make at one point or another. Some teams decide too early or too late to let an overpriced veteran walk. Thompson prefers the 'better safe then sorry' approach, and is in favor of jettisoning older players with big contracts.
In this case, it appears Woodson is no longer capable of being an elite defensive player and as such, it's time to move on. None of that diminishes the career he had as a Packer, or the admiration fans have for him.
He's an all-time great and when he stands in front of his family and friends in Canton in a few years, he'll likely want to enter the NFL's most prestigious group as a Green Bay Packer.
For fans, that's what he'll always be.
Peter Bukowski lives in New York and has been covering sports since 2007. He is an award-winning television and newspaper reporter. Follow him on Twitter @BukoTime
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