The announcement that Shields would be looking for big money outside of Green Bay came yesterday and was underscored today when Ian Rappaport of nfl.com announced that the Packers were looking to pay him less than $6 million per year. With teammate Tramon Williams making in the $7 million range, Shields, it seems, is looking to match or better that number.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 2, 2014
Is he worth it and will the Packers let him walk or will they try to match or better a contract like that if offered?
My guess is that GM Ted Thompson isn’t about to pay that kind of money to Shields – one of his undrafted free agents who made the team as a rookie and has only improved since.
So, what do the Packers do if Shields walks?
Well, let’s remember that when healthy, the Packers already have a pretty good crew of cornerbacks starting with Williams. The question is who would play opposite him? Would it be Micah Hyde or Davon House? Would they try Casey Hayward on the outside or continue to relegate him to the slot, where he excelled as a rookie? The Packers also still have Jarrett Bush on the roster, a prime example of the penultimate dime back.
With a defensive line and outside linebackers that could put pressure on the offense, this isn’t a bad defensive backfield. However, with a defensive line that leaks against the run and allows even the bad quarterbacks to put up numbers because they’ve got all day, this is an average to poor defensive backfield. Frankly, any set of cornerbacks that don’t get the support up front is average. Remember, this is a passing league and when the QB is standing back there like the Statue of Liberty – yes, even Christian Ponder can pick apart a defense.
But I digress.
The question is whether the Packers go after a free agent cornerback who would sign a contract more in their price range? It wouldn’t be a Jairus Byrd, Alterraun Verner or Brent Grimes, but maybe it could be a Aqib Talib or Vontae Davis.
Unless Shields’ suitors don’t offer him the world and bags of cash – say in the $7-$9 million range – he could realistically be back in Green Bay, which would provide the team with more options, such as moving Hyde to safety.
However, if the Cleveland Browns or San Diego Chargers come through with a deal that breaks the bank, we don’t expect Shields to be wearing #37 in Green and Gold next year.
The good news is that it will provide the Packers with other options in spending the $35 million in cap money they are sitting on and will make it necessary to adjust their draft board.
With the free agency conversations heating up come this weekend, we’ll surely know much more by the time the actual pens swing into action starting a week from now.
Stay tuned on this one … developments with Shields will most likely start the gears turning in a different direction for the Green Bay Packers.