The Green Bay Packers released Charles Woodson, the former National Football League defensive player of the year, while the Indianapolis Colts declined to give a new contract to Dwight Freeney, the club’s all-time sack leader.
Woodson, 36, who signed with Green Bay in 2006 after eight seasons with the Oakland Raiders, started 100 games for the Packers. He was named the NFL’s best defender by the Associated Press in 2009, when he recorded a career-high nine interceptions along with four forced fumbles and two sacks.
Woodson earned four Pro Bowl selections during his seven seasons with the Packers.
Woodson was a “once-in-a-generation talent,” a key part of the Packers’ Super Bowl title three years ago and a future member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, General Manager Ted Thompson said in a news release sent by the team.
“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,” Thompson said.
Woodson, a defensive back, holds franchise records for the most defensive touchdowns with 10 and the most interceptions returned for a touchdown with nine. He’s tied for second in league history with 11 career interceptions returned for scores, behind Rod Woodson’s 12.
Freeney, 32, the Colts’ 11th overall pick in the 2002 draft who tallied 107.5 sacks for the club, can enter the free agency market on March 12.
“He has been a dominant player, which is all the more impressive considering his size for his position, and he has won a lot of games for this franchise,” Colts owner Jim Irsay said. “Dwight was an artist, a joy to watch, and the dedication he put toward his craft was a rare quality.”
Freeney, a seven-time Pro Bowl selection, had 13.0 sacks in his rookie season and had at least 10 sacks in 2003 (11.0), 2004 (16.0), 2005 (11.0), 2008 (10.5), 2009 (13.5) and 2010 (10.0). He became the first Colts player to top the NFL in sacks with his total in 2004.
He took down 53 different opposing quarterbacks and had sacks against 27 of 31 teams.
Freeney played on seven division champions, two conference champions and the Colts’ 2006 Super Bowl team which beat Chicago 29-17.
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