Charles Woodson's career in Silver and Black is over, but while he won't be putting the pads on again, he's still keeping a close eye on what's going on with his former team.
"If you're a Raiders fan, if you're working in the Raiders organization you have to feel good about what's happening right now," said Woodson Saturday night before accepting his second-consecutive Commitment to Excellence Award. "Look at what's happening in free agency right now; guys are wanting to come here and play. You have to feel good about the direction."
He continued, "I think [Owner] Mark [Davis], [General Manager] Reggie [McKenzie], along with [Head Coach] Jack [Del Rio], they're working together to make sure that this organization is what it used to be, and has the respect that is used to have. It's going to be fun to watch."
Although he officially ended his 18-year career with his ninth Pro Bowl appearance in January, Woodson is still watching, and he has been impressed with the trio of moves McKenzie made last week in free agency, signing Kelechi Osemele, Sean Smith and Bruce Irvin.
"First of all, you get some guys that are in their primes," Woodson explained. "Smith is a guy, I think, that is going to be perfect for this scheme, what they want – a long corner, a tall corner, a guy that can go out there and press on early downs, so that the linebackers and [defensive] line can focus on the run. He's going to be a huge upgrade for the team at the cornerback position – a fiery guy, a guy that plays with a lot of passion. The game is won in the trenches, so you bring in another versatile offensive lineman that's going to be big for the team."
He also spoke about the addition of Bruce Irvin, who along with Khalil Mack, provides the team with a pair of versatile edge rushers – now affectionately known as the "Slash Brothers."
"You look at Irvin, versatile guy, and what you need on any team is you need rush," Woodson said. "You got Khalil on one side and you could potentially have Bruce Irvin on the other side, but what you also have is versatility. Both of those guys can play multiple positions, so you can put them anywhere on the field."
In addition to giving his thoughts on the team's moves in free agency, Woodson also took time Saturday night to reflect back on his Hall of Fame career, and share his thoughts about the fans that packed O.co Coliseum every Sunday to watch him play.
"It's hard to explain what it means to be in the NFL, [and] to have a great fan base like you have, and to have that fan base really appreciate the way you played the game, and I appreciate them for that as well," he said. "I'm going to miss it. I'm going to miss it a great deal. There's no way you play this game as long as I've played it and not miss it."
After 18 years in the NFL, Woodson's career on the field is over. His next stop is ESPN where he will be serving as an analyst for Sunday NFL Countdown *and *Monday Night Countdown, but the future Hall of Famer knows he's leaving the Silver and Black in good hands, and under good leadership.
"I think you have a great team to move the team forward," Woodson said. "This team is going to be one to watch."