The Green Bay Packers probably fucked up when they didn’t give Sam Shields the new contract he was seeking this past summer.
Shields was a restricted free agent and ended up signing a one-year tender for a little over $2 million. That happened after pretty much everyone — and by everyone I really mean we — acknowledged that Shields had surpassed Tramon Williams as the best cornerback on the squad.
Now, the Packers coaching staff has acknowledged that Shields is the team’s No. 1 corner, which means he’s getting a heap load more money this coming offseason than the Packers could have locked him down for the past one.
The Packers went into the season with the idea that they’d leave Williams and Shields on their sides of the field and not match Williams up with the opposition’s No. 1 receiver, as they’ve done in the past. That went out the window against Cincinnati, when Shields went to cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt and asked to match up on Bengals stud receiver A.J. Green.
“I said, ‘You feel good about it?’” Whitt recalled on Friday. “He said, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘Go ahead and match him.’ It really wasn’t our part doing it.”
Although Green scored a touchdown in the second half, Shields shut him down as much as you can shut down a guy like Green. Four catches for 46 yards. Pedestrian. Oh, and Shields also had a pick in that game.
That’s what a shutdown corner does.
We know Shields was pissed when the Packers didn’t give him the deal he wanted before the season. Now he’s going out and proving he’s the guy and he’s going to make the Packers, or someone else, pay. A lot.
Obviously, he’s trying to make a statement this season, but he’s not getting all uppity about it.
“If I keep playing how I’ve been playing, I’ll just let my play speak for itself,” Shields said.
While this is great for the Packers defense, it might not be so great for Shields’ chances of remaining in Green Bay. He’s not the only guy who’s going to get paid after the season. Among others, B.J. Raji, Jermichael Finley and James Jones are in the final year of their contracts.
We don’t see a way the Packers can pay all four of those guys top dollar and Shields, although obviously a killer, plays a position that the Packers have crazy depth at.
We see three scenarios here. The Packers give Shields a new deal during the season, they cut Williams and his $6.5 million salary and re-sign Shields after the season or Shields becomes a member of the Minnesota Vikings.