UPDATE: As of early Monday afternoon, Sam Shields has signed his restricted free agent tender, valued at $2.02 million. He and the Packers are reportedly still working on a long-term deal.
Restricted free agent cornerback Sam Shields and the Green Bay Packers have not yet been able to agree on a new contract and as a result, Shields has not participated in any of the team’s organized team activities this offseason.
Surely the missed practice time will open the door for another player to possibly unseat Shields and his starting outside cornerback slot, right? OK, probably not.
This season will be Shields’ fourth in the NFL and he is hardly a rookie. Furthermore, he is familiar with the team’s defensive scheme and the defensive coaching staff remains largely intact from last season. It would be premature to say that Shields is falling behind the others because of that missed time. If the season started today and Shields were under contract with the Packers, my bet is that he would be at one of the two starting outside cornerback spots. If not a starter, he would see significant playing time.
Clearly, the Packers have a decision to make regarding Shields, but they aren’t the only ones facing consequences of their actions, or inactions. Both parties have already made some moves and decisions that will impact how this scenario will play out. Let’s examine a bit further.
During the 2010 playoff run, Shields made a crucial interception late in the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship game that sealed the win for the Packers and sent them to Super Bowl XLV. In 2011, Shields continued to make plays and develop within the team’s defensive scheme. One of the last highlights that we saw from the 2012 season was Shields’ interception of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick on the first drive of the Divsional playoff game. Shields returned it for an easy touchdown and, just like that, the Packers had an early lead. It is plays like that that have defined Shields’ value to the team. Most of the attention that Shields has garnered has been because of what he has done on the field.