A day after we got news that the Green Bay Packers had released veteran running back James Starks, we get news that another veteran is gone. This time, a starter, in cornerback Sam Shields.
Or perhaps we should say a former starter. Shields played in just one game in 2016. He suffered the fifth concussion of his football career in week 1 and didn’t play for the Packers again during the 2016 season.
Like the Starks move, this one comes as no surprise to us.
Although Shields said he wants to keep playing, he’s still suffering symptoms from that concussion. Even if he does get healthy enough to clear protocol, what are the chances he suffers another concussion the next time he bangs his head against the ground or another player?
The chances of that are obviously high.
It’s in Shields’ and the Packers’ best interests to call this the end of the line, whether Shields likes it or not. There is, of course, additional incentive for the Packers here.
Shields was to have a $12.125 million cap hit in 2017. The Packers will take on $3.125 million in dead money with this move, but gain $9 million in cap room.
When you couple that with the Starks’ move, the Packers have gained around $11 million in cap room since the season ended.
As for Shields, he was perhaps one of GM Ted Thompson’s great success stories. An undrafted free agent out of Miami in 2010, Shields became a contributor his rookie season. He was a full-time starter by 2013 and ascended to the Packers’ No. 1 cornerback not long after that.
The Packers sorely missed Shields’ combination of speed and intelligence in 2016. He’ll finish his Packers’ career with 18 interceptions.