28

February

Packers 2014 Salary Cap Number Released

Sam Shields

Sam Shields may be smiling again in a Packers uniform in 2014

The NFL announced the 2014 salary cap today at $133 million per team, up $10 million from last year’s mark of $123 million.

As part of the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement, teams can also carry over unspent cap dollars from the previous season.  The Green Bay Packers are expected to bring over an additional $9.98 million.  With that added amount the Packers are close to $35 million under the salary cap, as it stands right now.

At first glance, it would appear the Green Bay could be poised to do some serious shopping in free agency when it begins in two weeks.  Keep in mind that the Packers have a few of their own guys that they are going to want to get taken care of as well.

The most obvious Packers in that category are receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb.  Both are currently set to become free agents after 2014 and both are a priority for the team to retain.  It would be wise for the Packers to use some of their cushiony cap space now to get Nelson and Cobb done and ease the load for future years.

A few other current Packers players set to become free agents next month and who the Packers surely would like to see back are cornerback Sam Shields and center Evan Dietrich-Smith.

The Packers reportedly held some talks with Shields’ agent Drew Rosenhaus at the NFL Scouting Combine last week.  As the team’s top defensive back who is only 26 years old, Shields is exactly the type of player that Packers general manager Ted Thompson likes to spend his money on.  That Shields knows the defense, the team and the coaching staff doesn’t hurt either.

With veteran corner Tramon Williams set to make $6.9 million this season, Shields could be looking to land a deal close to four years and between $7-9 million per season, on average.  With the team having a major need at the safety position as well, locking up Shields and solidifying the cornerback position seems to make more sense than not.

In Dietrich-Smith’s case, the added cap space may allow the Packers the ability to be more competitive for him.  He will surely get offers in free agency, but it’s hard to say where those numbers will fall.  Returning EDS would give the Packers essentially the same starting offensive line that they went into training camp with last season.  Continuity on the line would be a benefit to the Packers offense.

10

January

Can the Packers Afford Sam Shields?

Packers CB Sam Shields

Shields is one of Green Bay’s top free agents heading into 2014

This will come across as pouting and before we get into Green Bay Packers cornerback Sam Shields in free agency, I have to say that I really wish I were still writing about a Packers team who was preparing for their next playoff game.  Such is life.

So what about Shields?  Well, last year Shields was a restricted free agent and the Packers placed a second round tender on him, meaning that if Shields negotiated a deal with another team and Green Bay chose not to match it, the receiving team would have owed the Packers a second round draft choice.

At the time that the Packers were gathering for training camp and there was talk that he might hold out if he was not given a long-term deal.  Shields’ agent is Drew Rosenhaus, who is no stranger to a holdout, an interview or an attempt to pan for the camera.  Shields eventually signed his tender with the Packers and played out his one-year, $2.023 million deal this season.

A likely motivator for Shields to get signed and into camp was that there was expected to be competition at the cornerback position.  Shields missed significant time in 2012 due to an ankle injury suffered early in the season but returned late in the year to help the Packers earn another division title.

Shields also had an interception for a touchdown early in the divisional round playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers.  Still, looming over Shields’ shoulder were cornerbacks Casey Hayward, Davon House and rookie Micah Hyde.

Shields kept his starting spot and had a stellar 2013 season, tallying 61 tackles, 17 passes defensed and had four interceptions in just 14 games.

Two of Shields’ interceptions will not soon be forgotten.  The first was a game-saver late in the win against the Dallas Cowboys on a play that, had Shields not made, likely would have gone for a touchdown and prevented the Packers from winning that game.  The second was the last play of Green Bay’s week 17 win over the Chicago Bears to seal the division title.  Shields intercepted a Jay Cutler Hail Mary pass that somehow failed to make it to the end zone.