Woodson, Mobley given their release

Posted: Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Rod Woodson, one of the top defensive backs of the last two decades, was released by the Oakland Raiders on Tuesday, the day that NFL training camps officially began to open.

Denver released former All-Pro linebacker John Mobley for the same reason he flunked a physical.

At the same time the old were leaving, the new were entering.

Safety Sean Taylor signed with Washington, at fifth overall the highest draft pick under contract so far. His former college teammate at Miami, linebacker Jonathan Vilma, signed with the New York Jets after being the 12th choice overall. Receiver Michael Jenkins, the 29th pick, reached agreement with Atlanta.

The 39-year-old Woodson, who would have been entering his 18th season in the NFL, made the Pro Bowl 11 times at three different positions cornerback, safety and kick returner. He had a chronic left knee injury, finished last season on injured reserve and underwent surgery last December.

He began his career with Pittsburgh in 1987, played 11 seasons with the Steelers, one with San Francisco, four more with Baltimore and the last two with the Raiders. He was voted both to the NFL's 75th anniversary team and to the all-decade team for the 1990s.

''Rod Woodson is one of the greatest defensive backs to ever play the game,'' Raiders coach Norv Turner said. ''He has been a leader on and off the field.''

The 31-year-old Mobley, an All-Pro in 1997, was cut by the Broncos because of a neck injury sustained last season. He and the team both held out hope he might be able to return once the injury heals.

''You have to release him to get down to the maximum number of players you can have on the team,'' coach Mike Shanahan said as the Broncos opened training camp, one of three teams to do so on Tuesday. ''It doesn't mean we don't want John Mobley back on our football team. If six months to a year from now he feels like he is ready to go, then we will assess him then.''

Super Bowl champion New England placed linebacker Rosevelt Colvin on the physically unable to perform list, a procedural move. Colvin, who missed most of last year with a broken left hip, could still be activated for the start of the regular season.

With Taylor, Vilma and Jenkins reaching deals, seven first-round picks are set in a week when all 32 teams open training camps.

Taylor, who fired his agent the week after the draft in April and only hired a new one last week, got a deal estimated at $18 million over seven years including a $7.2 million signing bonus, according to two sources who requested anonymity. Vilma signed a five-year deal worth an estimated $10 million.

The New York Giants, who traded to get Eli Manning, the first pick in the draft, continued to negotiate with the former Mississippi quarterback. The main problem appeared to be technical because the Giants had the fourth overall pick, the team and Manning's agent, Tom Condon, were working to find room under the rookie salary cap to pay him as the first pick.

The Manning negotiations could be the key to the first part of the first round as teams waited to see what kind of contract he receives.

That is particularly relevant to the three other quarterbacks taken No. 1 Philip Rivers of San Diego (taken by New York at four and traded for Manning); Ben Roethlisberger of Pittsburgh (11th) and J.P. Losman of Buffalo (22nd). Quarterbacks usually get extra money that falls outside the regular ''slotting'' system for draft picks.

Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi would not discuss terms but said the talks with Condon were amicable.

A league source also said Tuesday that the agent for tight end Kellen Winslow Jr., the sixth overall pick, had begun talks with Cleveland. However, the Browns are concerned that a deal may not get done until Manning has one.

In addition to Denver, Philadelphia and St. Louis also opened camp.

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