Woodson's release & Patriots safeties

February, 17, 2013
2/17/13
7:30
PM ET
When ESPN.com senior NFL writer John Clayton assessed potential landing spots for veteran defensive back Charles Woodson, he put the Patriots in the mix (link here).

When NFL.com “Around the League” editor Gregg Rosenthal handicapped the best potential landing spots for Woodson, the Patriots topped the list. “This one almost makes too much sense to happen,” Rosenthal writes (link here).

A possible Woodson-to-New England storyline was also explored by Greg A. Bedard of the Boston Globe (link here).

This is fun stuff.

As we consider the possibility, two questions come to mind from this viewpoint: 1. Are the Patriots leaving Devin McCourty at safety?; 2. How does the team view 2012 second-round draft choice Tavon Wilson?

The feeling here is that McCourty (5-10, 195) could benefit from a longer-term commitment from the coaching staff at safety. The idea of letting him work at the position all offseason, and grow further into the role, has greater upside than if he were to return to cornerback.

If the Patriots do that, I’m not sure the 6-foot-1, 202-pound Woodson -- another corner turned safety -- is the best complement to him.

As for Wilson (6-0, 210), he remains a bit of a wild-card. He’ll ultimately be on the 53-man roster (and 45-man game-day roster because of special teams) in 2013, but the jury is still out on if he will become a full-time starter.

If he doesn’t emerge in that role, which one assumes the club hopes will happen based on his draft status, the Patriots still have veteran Steve Gregory (5-11, 200), second-year player Nate Ebner, and a potential prospect from a deep 2013 rookie class on the roster as insurance.

Woodson, in a sense, would represent another layer of insurance – a luxury, but something that isn’t viewed as a necessity from this viewpoint.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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