Raiders release Woodson

Ray Buchanan's road to becoming the Oakland Raiders starting free safety became easier after the team released Rod Woodson Tuesday because of a failed physical.

The Oakland Raiders held out hope that the 39-year old Woodson could come back after sustaining a knee injury that ended his season on injured reserve last season. Oakland signed Buchanan, a cornerback by trade, as a safety net (no pun intended) in case Woodson were not healthy enough to return.

Woodson, who in all likelihood will retire, played 17 NFL pro seasons including the last two seasons with the Raiders. Woodson led the NFL in interceptions and made the Pro Bowl in his first year with the Raiders in 2002 to help the team become an above-average defense on the way to winning the AFC Championship and playing in Super Bowl XXXVII.

"Rod Woodson is one of the greatest defensive backs to ever play the game," Raiders Head Coach Norv Turner said in a released statement. "He has been a leader on and off the field during his time with the Silver and Black. We appreciate Rod's contributions to the success of the Raiders."

Woodson is a member of the NFL's 75th Anniversary Team and All-NFL Team of the Decade for the 1990s, he was an 11-time Pro Bowler and the first player in NFL history to make the Pro Bowl as cornerback, kick returner and safety.

In addition, he is the NFL's all-time leader in interception return yards with 1,483 and also holds the NFL record for most interceptions returned for touchdowns with 12.

Woodson, who was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1993 has intercepted 71 passes and is third on the NFL all-time list behind Paul Krause (81) and Emlen Tunnell (79). Woodson originally entered the NFL as a first round pick by Pittsburgh in 1987 following an All-American career at Purdue, where he was also starred in track as a hurdler.

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