- Jan 22, 2006
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http://www.kcchiefs.com/news/2006/05/24/gretz_out_of_the_woods/Out of the Woods
May 24, 2006, 9:26:46 AM by Bob Gretz
The Chiefs said goodbye to Jerome Woods last week, releasing the veteran safety in a move that was another step in signaling the transformation of the team’s defensive roster.
Woods, Eric Warfield, Dexter McCleon, Shawn Barber, Mike Maslowski, Scott Fujita, Vonnie Holliday … all were starters on the Chiefs defense in 2003, the unit that was part of a 13-3 season and then couldn’t force Indianapolis to punt in the playoffs. All are gone from Arrowhead Stadium.
Among those players, Woods was the guy who made the Pro Bowl for his performance in that 2003 season, which included a pair of interception returns for touchdowns, three interceptions in all, 99 tackles and a fumble recovery.
And, that performance will go down as one of the greatest comebacks from an injury in Chiefs history. In a 2002 pre-season game in Seattle, Woods suffered a horrific break of his right leg that ended his year and by all accounts, should have ended his career. With a metal rod in his leg, he fought his way back onto the field in time for the next season. But then, he had done that many times before in his career. Until that 2002 season, he had missed just one game since being selected in the first round of the 1996 Draft, but there were many more games where he should not have played because of various injuries.
“Jerome was a gamer,” said Carl Peterson, who counts Woods among his most successful first-round draft choices. “He did a lot for this franchise while he was here and there isn’t anyone around Arrowhead that doesn’t wish him and his family the best in the future.”
Woods was one tough guy. There was the time early in his career when he was fined by the NFL for an alleged unnecessary hit on John Elway in Denver. It was a marginal call and what bothered Woods the most was not the fine, but the fact that he didn’t get his money’s worth. “For those kind of dollars, I should have gotten another shot,” Woods said.
Despite the 2003 trip to the Pro Bowl, he was never quite the same player after the injury. He wanted to be, and that made the parting that much harder for him. The writing was on the wall last year when Sammy Knight was signed. The wall was painted a new color when the Chiefs drafted Bernard Pollard in the second round.
The Chiefs used a new aspect of the agreement between the players and owners to give Woods his freedom earlier than normally happens in these situations. Teams now have two exemptions each year where they can release a player before the June 1 salary cap accounting date and the move is ultimately counted as happening after that date, not before. That means teams can make moves with veteran cap casualties earlier, allowing them more time to find a new home.
This year, Woods had a salary cap number just north of $2.7 million. By releasing him in this manner, once June 1 comes around, Woods will account for just over $880,000 on the cap this year. The rest of his pro-rated signing bonus will fall into the 2007 cap.
If Woods has been working hard during this off-season, another one of the league teams will give him a look, probably offer him a one-year contract and take him to training camp to see if he has anything left in his tank.
Woods would love to show that he does.
But at Arrowhead, the winds of defensive change continue to blow.
And, they aren’t done yet.
The opinions offered in this column do not necessarily reflect those of the Kansas City Chiefs.