Dear Sam Shields,
Happy belated birthday, from all of us fans of the Green Bay Packers. You’ve grown up right before our eyes: 26 years old already. Where has the time gone?
Anyway, this is more of a business call. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but we’re letting Newhouse and House go this offseason. It may seem like we are discriminating against those with ‘house’ in the last name; it’s just coincidence. At any rate, I wanted to let you know that we are very pleased with your production this year. You are NOT one of those unfortunate souls that will be receiving a pink slip in their locker.
So, you can relax.
You’ve been with us for what, four years now? You came to us right at the peak of our performance, defensively: 2010, our Super Bowl season. That must have been a real thrill for you to jump in and contribute for a team that was championship bound.
We appreciate all your efforts in that magical run. You came down with many a crucial pass breakup and interception, culminating in that awesome game-sealing interception of Roethlisberger in the big game. Between you, Tramon Williams and Charles Woodson, we felt very secure in our cornerback position.
Things derailed a little bit in the following seasons. In 2011, we were unstoppable on offense, a sieve on defense. I attribute those woes more to the terrible run defense than to the problems in the secondary. We were plagued with the “bend-but-don’t-break” philosophy, but never lost the ability to take the ball away.
You secured a nice reputation for yourself as being a ball-hawk. You had four interceptions in ’11 and three in ’12. While the defense was struggling to stop opposing offenses from moving the ball downfield, we were still able to come up with the costly turnovers that kept us competitive. Tramon Williams was really our “money” corner; setting up opposite of the opposition’s #1 receiver.
But you’ve done some evolving since then, Sam.
This year, you’ve broken out of your shell. You’ve truly evolved into a better cover corner than anyone we have in our secondary now. You’re a quality player. At 5-11 and only 185 pounds, you stack up against some of the best receivers in the league on a weekly basis and hold your own. This year, you have surpassed Williams as our “money” guy. We’ve played you against
Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green, Josh Gordon … you’ve matched up very well. You’ve not the biggest guy, not even by a long shot. But, that takeaway in the end zone on Thanksgiving against Johnson – was classic. You are truly playing at a level above your physical stature.
This season, you are playing for your future in Green Bay. Everyone is aware of this, which is why your production has been so high. After an injury-ravaged 2012, the Packers decided to put a second round draft pick on you as leverage to keep your contract one more year … to see what you could do when the stakes were high.
I believe that it has motivated you to show your caliber to this organization. Through 11 games this season (some weeks missed due to injury), you have already padded your stats more than any other year. You have more tackles already this season than your highest total to date. You’ve already gained two interceptions and been one of the most consistent tacklers on the team.
We don’t want to see you go. There will be changes to this secondary, don’t doubt that. As a whole, this unit has been the weakest part of this team. But … you’re staying. So, what do you say to a contract extension? We will work out the financial details at a later date but … what are you doing for the next four-to-five years?
You look good in Green and Gold, buddy.