Sam Shields

The Green Bay Packers more or less threw up their hands last offseason and decided to let a bunch of guys play for their contract lives in 2013. One of those guys was cornerback Sam Shields.

All he did was go out and have his best season as a pro and establish himself as the team’s No. 1 corner. Now Sam Shields is going to make the Packers pay.

Today is the first day teams can use the franchise tag on players, which means the team has exclusive negotiating rights with the player. It also means the team has to give the player a one-year deal at the percentage against the current salary cap of the five highest salaries over the previous five seasons at his position. For cornerbacks that’s going to be about $11 million.

The Packers aren’t going to pay Shields that.

What’s somewhat more frustrating in this case is Shields’ agent, Drew Rosenhaus, came to Green Bay to negotiate a long-term deal with the Packers last June. The Packers didn’t get that deal done, instead letting Shields play out his one-year restricted free agent tender for $2.023 million.

Negotiations have continued through the season and they’ll probably heat up again at the scouting combine, which begins later this week. However, you can bet your ass Rosenhaus isn’t going to cede anything to the Packers at this point.

Shields came into the league as an undrafted free agent and his original signing bonus was only $7,500. He’s going to get a much bigger signing bonus this time around, from the Packers or someone else.

Our best guess is Shields’ next contract will come in at between $5-7 million annually.

The Packers gambled and won in this very situation with soon-to-be free agents Jermichael Finley, B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett, who have very little leverage if any at all at this point. They totally blew it in the same situation with Shields.