Raiders will head to camp without Woodson

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. Linebacker Jonathan Vilma, the 12th choice overall, signed with the New York Jets.

They were teammates at Miami last season.

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.

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.

Taylor and Vilma became the fifth and sixth first-round picks signed 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.

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