The Packers have two promising young players at cornerback in Casey Hayward and Sam Shields. Hayward was hindered by a hamstring injury for all but three games this season. Both Hayward and Shields have proven to be playmakers for the Packers defense. I think they sometimes get underappreciated due to the lack of pass-rush allowing teams to throw for 300-400 yards too often. There are a few things to consider when looking at Sam Shields’ free agency situation.
Sam Shields played 14 out of 16 regular season games this season for the Packers. His most memorable moment was arguably his interception of Tony Romo that assisted the Green Bay’s remarkable comeback against the Dallas Cowboys this season. In a contract year Shields had a very good season, and it is understandable why he is looking for a big pay day. He has been very consistent in his first four seasons and has made some clutch plays in crucial games. According to NFL.com’s Albert Breer, the cornerback salary cap figure will be somewhere in the vicinity of $11 million. Obviously, the ideal situation is to get Shields signed to a reasonable long-term contract. The question is, will Shields demand top cornerback money, and if so, should the Packers give it to him?
At this point it is tough to say whether or not the Packers are willing to spend top dollar on Shields. Ted Thompson claims he is willing to spend money this offseason in free agency to improve the defense. I am not really sure what this means considering free agency participation has been lacking for the Packers. Shields is considered to be of the highest priority because he is a young player with arguably the most upside of any of Green Bay’s defensive free agents.
While I do believe the Packers need to invest in some bigger, more physical defensive players, the combination of athleticism and speed like Sam Shields has is hard to come by in the NFL. If this means the Packers cannot re-sign a player like B.J. Raji, so be it. I would rather see Shields get paid before the Packers shell out big money to a player who has lacked production for much of the past few years.