The exception to the rule.

National Football Post founder and former Green Bay Packers vice president Andrew Brandt has written a few posts about free agency in the NFL, recently. The short of his message is this: it usually doesn’t work out.

One of the exceptions to the rule, however, was the Packers signing of cornerback Charles Woodson.

As we told you in the past, Woodson had next to no desire to play in Green Bay, but the Packers were his only real suitor. The Packers worked hard to make the deal happen and it’s worked out well for both parties — Woodson has grown to love Green Bay and he’s played the best football of his career since joining the Packers.

The Packers interest in Woodson, when no one else had any, was a direct result of former coach and general manager Mike Sherman’s incompetence in the latter role.

The chase of Woodson proved another mantra about free agency: it is often the price paid for drafting poorly. Woodson’s signing was the direct result of the Packers top pick in the 2004 Draft – cornerback Ahmad Carroll — having lost the confidence of the staff.

Even as the only true suitor, we had to recruit the agent and player with all the gusto possible. I felt like the Green Bay Chamber of Commerce trying to convince Charles and his agent of the benefits of playing in Titletown.

Carroll didn’t make it through three seasons with the Packer before being released.

While the Packers were wooing Woodson, they were also enamored with free agent linebacker Lavar Arrington, who was then with the Washington Redskins.

Arrington was a athletic freak who was a force when healthy, but his last two seasons in Washington were injury plagued. Arrington eventually signed with the New York Giants for less money and ruptured his Achilles seven games into the 2006 season. He never played in the NFL again.

At the same time we were recruiting Woodson, we were chasing another player with the same agents – the Poston brothers – in Lavar Arrington. Woodson signed, and the dynamic Arrington — who had the defensive coaching staff smitten like high school girls with a crush after his impressive visit — turned down more money from the Packers to sign with the Giants in order to play against the Redskins twice a year.

The Packers got lucky twice in 2006. They landed Woodson because the rest of the league didn’t see any value and Arrington, whose injury history was no fluke, signed with the Giants.

It shows the fickle nature of the mistress that is free agency.

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