Raiders Hire Woodson

The Oakland Raiders announced Rod Woodson as the newest member of the coaching staff. The Hall of Famer and former Raider is an exciting addition, but already some our viewing it as a ploy to aid in Nnamdi Asomugha's impending free agency...

In a move that continues the trend of former players coming back as coaches, the Oakland Raiders announced on Monday that Rod Woodson is the team's newest defensive backs coach.

"It's an honor to be back with the Raiders and be able to talk to Raider players about true football," said Woodson on the team's official release. "I'm looking forward to working with the organization and the challenge of the 2011 season."

Woodson, 45, played in the NFL for 17 seasons, including his final two with the Raiders from 2002-2003. During the 2002 season, Woodson led the NFL in interceptions with eight, and helped the Raiders reach the Super Bowl.

Woodson was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009—his first year of eligibility.

Since retiring, Woodson has spent his time as a television analyst, including work with the NFL Network, and as a coach at Valley Christian Senior High School in Dublin, California. Woodson still resides in the Bay Area, making his home in Pleasanton.

He takes over for Lionel Washington, who was not retained following the conclusion of the 2010 season. According to the release, Woodson will focus on the cornerbacks. Woodson played his final five seasons at free safety, but began as a cornerback and return specialist. Kevin Ross will focus on the safeties.

"I'm excited that we have a Hall of Fame player who is coming back to the organization," said Head Coach Hue Jackson. "I was extremely impressed during the interview process with his communication skills and I'm looking forward to Rod imparting his wealth of knowledge to our players."

Along with Woodson, the team hired former Raider Steve Wisniewski on January 27 as an assistant offensive line coach. On February 8, Jackson promoted former assistant defensive coach (and former Raider) Greg Biekert to linebackers coach.

It goes without saying that Woodson's hire, in addition to being a big name addition to Jackson's growing (and impressive) staff, doubles as a move to retain cornerback, and free-agent-to-be, Nnamdi Asomugha.

While owner Al Davis has publicly stated that the $16.8 million Asomugha would have received next season (before his contract was voided) is better spent on bringing in multiple players, the Raiders are not going to let Asomugha go without an attempt at resigning him.

Around the NFL-media landscape, several pundits have speculated on Asomugha's possible destinations. Although it remains to be seen whether or not there will actually be an offseason, teams such as the New York Jets, New England Patriots, and the Dallas Cowboys have been mentioned as potential suitors for Asomugha's services.

And as daunting as those possible competitors may be, many cite Asomugha's dedication to the Raiders and to the Bay Area as reasons for Asomugha to say in Oakland.

And of course, the fact that Al Davis has never been shy to shell out large and often exorbitant contracts for players is all the more reason to believe the Raiders have far more than a puncher's chance at retaining Asomugha.

In his online piece about Woodson's hiring, Jerry McDonald writes of Asomugha's relationship with Woodson, and how Asomugha credits him for some of his success as a cornerback.

Of course, after Davis made the decision not to bring back Tom Cable, there was a lot of backlash from players, including potential free agent Robert Gallery. Does Davis care? The answer is probably not.

But Woodson's hire is two-fold. Although he hasn't had any coaching experience at the NFL level, his responsibilities will not be drastic considering he's splitting duties with Ross. Plus, he's a Hall of Famer who will have instant credibility to young group of defensive backs.

And of course, you have to wonder if Woodson's relationship with Asomugha plays a factor in his hiring. If Asomugha stays, expect him to mention his excitement about having Woodson as his coach. If not and Asomugha bolts, the Raiders are left with a gaping hole at corner, but will still have a Hall of Famer to coach up whoever comes in to assume Asomugha's role.

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