The Broncos were a team in transition. They had just fired Mike Shanahan after a late season collapse. The team was ranked dead last in defense that season and Dawkins was brought in to transform a squad that needed discipline.
While Dawkins was hampered with injuries in his last two seasons, there were noticeable differences in the Broncos' secondary when Dawkins was on the field. They hit harder, meaner. The experience of a 13-year veteran trickled down to some of the more inexperienced Broncos' secondary.
Enter Charles Woodson.
Today, the Broncos are in a much different position than that team in 2009, who went 8-8. The team doesn't lack veterans or leaders. Peyton Manning leads the offense while Champ Bailey anchors the defense. The organization is stable after the mess that McDaniels caused.
Still, much like Dawkins, Woodson can be that piece on the defense that influences other young safeties. Having played 206 career games, Woodson knows how to play the game of football.
The Broncos need it too. After Rahim Moore's infamous playoff mistake cost the Broncos' game against the Ravens, discipline is needed in that backfield. Moore will continue to mature in his third year, but Woodson can help with that process.
It's why the Broncos have already hosted Woodson for a visit and later offered him a contract. Other teams - including the Oakland Raiders, New York Giants, Detroit Lions and the Carolina Panthers - have gauged interest in Woodson as well.
All want Woodson to patch up their backfields. However, the Broncos are the team that makes the most sense for him. Early in the offseason, Woodson's agent told NFL.com's Ian Rapoport of Woodson's desire to play for a contender.
"He'd like to go play for a contender, win another Super Bowl," said Carl Poston, Woodson's agent. "He caught that bug."
The Broncos are that contender. While the Giants could also fit Woodson's needs, the Broncos currently have more pieces in place than New York. They filled a long time need in defense tackle with their first round pick. The club also added Wes Welker, giving them one of the best wide receiving corps in the league.
Woodson could come in and contribute. He's far from the player that dominated at cornerback, but he could also contribute in another area that's much needed - interceptions.
The Broncos ranked 13 in interceptions last year with 16, but Jim Leonard, who no longer plays for the Broncos, led the safeties with two. Compare that to third ranked New York Giants with safety Stevie Brown grabbing eight interceptions for his team.
Woodson grabbed only one interception last season, but only played in seven games. The year before that, he led the league by grabbing seven interceptions. While he might not be that player anymore, if Woodson can come in and help produce turnovers, Peyton Manning and that offense will take advantage.
It is still unclear when Woodson will decide to sign with a team. Dwight Freeney took his time and ended up with a two year deal worth $8.75 million. Granted that was helped by an injury to Melvin Ingram, but it makes sense for Woodson to take his time.
On Monday, Broncos' head coach John Fox gave an update on Woodson's situation to the Denver Post's Mike Klis.
"Out of respect to the process, we'll wait and see," said Fox.
The Broncos may wait, but the choice is clear - Woodson and Broncos are both fits for each other. Sign him.
Matthew Paras is Journalism Major at DePaul University. He writes for multiple outlets including Maxboxing.com, Operationsports.com, and DePaul's student newspaper, The DePaulia. He can be reached by email at Mparas1432@gmail.com or on twitter @Mparas1432. He currently resides in Chicago, but lived in Littleton, Colo. for seven years.
- American Football
- Sports & Recreation
- Denver Broncos
- Charles Woodson
- Brian Dawkins