Packers CB Sam Shields could be on the market this free agency
According to reports, there is disagreement on the amount that Shields should be paid, and both sides have arrived at the conclusion to let the free agency set his value. Shields’ camp confirmed late Saturday that talks have stalled out at this point and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, will have the cornerback test the open market. While Shields can negotiate with any NFL team starting March 8, he will be unable to sign a contract until later on March 11.
The Packers are still expected to be a player to acquire Shields’ services during the free agency period. But the Packers will risk losing Shields if he agrees to higher paying contract with some other team.
The team could cut down some of the drama by purchasing insurance in the form of a franchise tag for Shields. But such a move comes at a huge cost – with Shields expected to rake in $11.834 million on a one-year deal for the franchise tag. The 26-year-old Shields played under a restricted free agency tender of $2.023 million last season.
The deadline for teams to use the tag on one of their unrestricted free agents is for Monday.
Shields is coming off his best season, setting career highs with 61 combined tackles and tying with his career best of four interceptions in 14 games. He was a quality player on a Packers defense that had few reliable options on that side of the ball last season.
That might have helped put Shields on the radar of multiple teams as Rosenhaus could have made the decision to let the fifth-year pro hit the open market after detecting significant interest in the player from other teams during the NFL Combine. Also, after news broke out on Friday that the NFL was increasing the 2014 projected salary cap by $10 million to bring it up to $133 million, Rosenhaus may have deduced that teams will be willing to spend more in free agency and so the Packers can also handle cutting out a bigger pay check.
But the market is projected to be loaded with high-quality free agent cornerbacks – such as Brent Grimes, Aqib Talib, Alterraun Verner, Vontae Davis and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – which could affect the amount of interest Shields actually receives when the time comes. If the market doesn’t shape up well for Shields and he isn’t picked up early, the cornerback can end up with a less enticing offer than the one Packers are currently willing to pay him.
Then again, the re-signing of Shields is reportedly a priority for the Packers as they do not have many realistic options available at the spot. While the Packer are also in a position to chase high-rated cornerbacks in the draft, their development takes time and there’s a chance that they could prove a draft bust. Another option for the Packers could be hiring a veteran cornerback to temporarily replace Shields until a draft pick develops – but general manager Ted Thompson has been reluctant to go in this direction.