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For Packers, Price Tag on Sam Shields Extension Keeps Growing

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For Packers, Price Tag on Sam Shields Extension Keeps Growing

Given the choice between what was likely a competitive but underwhelming contract extension and the opportunity to earn himself an even more lucrative deal, Green Bay Packers cornerback Sam Shields decided to bet on himself.

Back in June, and just months removed from the best 10-game stint of his NFL career, Shields picked his one-year restricted tender—worth $2.02 million—over signing a multi-year deal with the Packers.

Fast forward to late October, and Shields' gamble appears to be inching closer and closer to paying off. Week after week, the 25-year-old cornerback is earning himself the big contract he and agent Drew Rosenhaus thought he deserved this summer.

The Packers, who are generally very responsive to giving deserving and home-grown players extensions, must realize Shields' price tag is growing higher and higher with every shutdown performance he delivers.

Since Anquan Boldin abused the Packers ill-advised zone defense, and Pierre Garcon chewed up garbage time yards in Week 2 (a game in which he received a game ball for), Shields has been the epitome of a No.1 cornerback.

In fact, good luck finding a player at his position that has had a better last month than Shields.

According to Pro Football Focus, Shields has allowed just nine receptions on 20 targeted passes in consecutive games against the Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions, Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns. Among the receivers he's battled are A.J. Green, Torrey Smith and Josh Gordon, who combined have 1,698 yards and eight touchdowns in 2013. Smith and Green are first and third in the NFL in receiving yards, respectively, and Gordon came into his Week 7 matchup with Shields averaging over 100 yards a contest.

These aren't scrubs he's shut down; they are bonafide NFL stars at the receiver position.

In Cincinnati, Shields held Green to four catches, 40 yards and a touchdown. Two weeks later, Smith wiggled free for just two catches and 23 yards. Gordon didn't have a catch against Shields Sunday.

The contract decision for the Packers is now a difficult one.

Should the team give Shields he's obviously earned, but when leverage is so clearly in the player's court? Given the way Shields ended last season—when he was arguably the NFL's best cover cornerback over the final 10 games, including playoffs—and his impressive start to 2013, Rosenhaus has every reason to ask for a bank-breaking deal to get his client locked up long term. Extending Shields now would cost considerably more than it did back in June.

But without an extension soon, the Packers would be running the risk of Shields continuing his elite-level performance and, in the process, running up his price to astronomical levels in the spring, when he's scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent. Given how much value cornerbacks now have in a passing game, Shields could become one of the hottest free agents on the open market in 2014.

For Shields, the script really couldn't be playing out any better.

A former college receiver, Shields is now a budding star covering the NFL's best pass catchers. At 25 years old, he's only entering his prime. And above all, he's become an invaluable member of his current team's present and future plans.

Even if the Packers don't pay, someone will.

Back in November of 2010, the Packers gave Tramon Williams a five-year deal worth $38.2 million, with over $11 million guaranteed. The deal averaged nearly $7.7 million per season.

But Rosenhaus, a hard bargaining agent known for sucking every penny out of a deal, might be able to now aim higher with Shields' next deal. Among the recent contracts signed at the position are Brandon Carr (five years, $50.1 million) and Cortland Finnegan (five years, $50 million)—two deals that could serve as jumping off points for Shields' camp.

The Packers chose not to give Shields an agreeable multi-year deal this summer. Two months into 2013, Shields has proved worthy of one. Both sides must know that the price tag for an extension is growing weekly.

Zach Kruse is a 25-year-old sports writer who contributes to Cheesehead TV, Bleacher Report and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He also covered prep sports for the Dunn Co. News. You can reach him on Twitter @zachkruse2 or by email at zachkruse2@gmail.com.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (56) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Mojo's picture

Yup, to everything Zach wrote. Unfortunately, the Pack might not be able to pony up $10mil per year for five or more years because of all the other FA's they have. Also, I think ARod's and CM3's contracts rise next year and the cap isn't supposed to go up much.

Too bad, because the Packers brought him in and groomed him. They did get some good years however, including a decent run in 2010. Why do I sense he'll end up with the Queens?

Stroh's picture

Not a chance he leaves GB. Given the Packer cap situation which is actually pretty good, they'll release Williams who is no longer playing to that level of pay, throw in a couple million more, and do what it takes to keep Shields in GB long term.

Also Rodgers and Matthews contracts don't go up. From what I remember reading Rodgers is basically getting the same amount over the life of the contract (6 more years after this one). Packers will sign Shields... Not even concerned about it.

Mojo's picture

As far as Rodgers and CM3 their cap hits go up and that's what's really important:

http://www.spotrac.com/nfl/green-bay-packers/aaron-rodgers/

http://www.spotrac.com/nfl/green-bay-packers/clay-matthews/

They can sign Shields and release Tramon, but what about the others? Not as easy as you make it seem.

The TKstinator's picture

Man, I hope:
1. Shields maintains his level of ass-kickery
2. That you are correct.
3. In that order.

Ryan's picture

I agree that I think it's likely they release Williams. That would save them about 7.5m in cap space next year. However, Rodgers and Matthews are on their old contracts, and new contracts kick in next year. That being said, Rodgers contract bumps up by about 5m next year, and CMIII bumps about 5.5m next year.

Also, consider Raji, Jones, Finley (if healthy), EDS, Jolly, Neal all are FA and will deserve raises this year. Pickett is an UFA, but guess he comes back for one more year at the same number. Then next year they have to plan to re-sign Cobb, Nelson, and Bulaga (injury discount?). The cap won't move up for another couple years until the new TV money comes in, so the front office has their work cut out for them. Tough decisions will have to be made, and I think it starts with Shields. The CB group is deep, and I think they rest on the comfort that they won't be left with a significant hole. Same can be said about Raji and the DL group. One will get the franchise tag.

L's picture

S.Wallace is probably not retained.

J.Kuhn is allowed to hit FA and probably isn't retained.

J.Jones is allowed to hit FA and probably isn't retained. Just don't think the Packers will have the financial flexibility to resign him given the other prominent FAs the team has.

J.Finley is allowed to hit FA and probably isn't retained (despite a clean bill of health). Concerns of future neck injuries will probably sealed the deal for him returning.

J.Starks may not be retained despite being a RFA. Unless, he's able to quickly recover from his current knee issue and display his talent level on the field I just don't think the team will want to deal with a player who has proven to have accountability issues. The depth at RB -- given D.Harris' return -- looks to be pretty good going forward, so yeah he'll have to prove a lot during the rest of the season in order to be retained for next year.

M.Newhouse is allowed to hit FA and probably isn't retained if the team feels confident that B.Bulaga and D.Sherrod will be healthy and ready to compete for one of the Tackle positions next year.

R.Francois is allowed to hit FA and probably isn't retained (mainly thanks to J.Lattimore and hopes that S.Barrington will take a step forward next year), but given his stellar special teams play if no other team shows much if any interest in him the team may bring him back on a easily discardable contract in order to compete for a roster spot.

MD.Jennings is probably retained -- RFA. Probably brought back at an affordable cost to provide competition and ensure back-up depth, but not guaranteed. The thing is, I fully expect the team to use an upper draft pick to bring in new talent and that honestly makes him somewhat expendable.

R.Pickett is allowed to hit FA, but if other teams don't show any or much interest I think the Packers may offer him a vet's minimum 1 year deal to lure him back.

EDS is probably brought back on an affordable 2 year contract that pays him around $1-2M/year.

J.Jolly is probably brought back on a 2-3 year contract paying him somewhere between $1.5-3M/year.

M.Neal is probably brought back on a 3 year contract that'll pay him between $1-4M/year.

J.Lattimore is brought back -- RFA. Probably on a multi-year contract -- not sure where the pay scale will end up being around considering he continues to perform w/ playing time.

A.Quarless is probably brought back on the cheap (unless he breaks-out during the remainder of the season -- not likely) mainly because of his run blocking capability. If he proves he's not all that useful in even that role then I don't think the team retains his services.

CJ.Wilson is probably offered a contract to return and it's probably on the cheap side. If R.Pickett isn't retained then I think his return increases; if J.Jolly isn't retained then his chances of returning increases even more and finally if BJ.Raji isn't retained than I see the Packers coveting his return.

BJ.Raji will be offered a contract, but whether he accepts it or decides he'd rather test his value as a FA is another question, but I'm guessing he'll probably elect to test the market. The team may find itself in a tough position of either franchise tagging him or S.Shields in order to retain one of their services for next year.

S.Shields will be offered a contract, but he probably decides to test his value as a FA. The team may be forced to franchise tag him in order to retain his services for next year.

Also, as a side note -- the good news is that $1,239,578 in dead money should come off the books next year.

ohenry78's picture

Pay the man, Shirley.

The Packers have been spoiled for a while now, with the likes of Woodson, Harris, and Williams. However, we can all still recall a time when Ahmad Carroll and Joey Thomas were our best options...let's not go back to those days. It's a passing league, and a passing league requires pass defenders. Shields is a darn good one.

The TKstinator's picture

Couch slouch! Got that one.

Beemer's picture

Tramon is going to make $7.2 Mil if he is on the team in 2014. Cut/trade him sometime after this season and move that money over to Shields. That said, Rosenhaus has been a thorn in the side of the Pack and we never sign his guys if it's big money.

Our top 4 corners of Shields, House, Hayward and Hyde looks great for the future. Ted is thee man.

THEMichaelRose's picture

I've been worried about this since he signed that tender.

He won't be a Packer in 2014. The team cannot give $10+ million to anybody going forward. The Rodgers and Matthews deals changed the team's cap outlook quite a bit. Need to retain so many other guys.

Good for Shields - he'll have earned his new contract.

nick perry's picture

I hope you're wrong but most likely you're right. Some other teams, probably several are going to offer Shields more money. Drew Rosenhaus is Shields agent which doesn't bode well for the Packers. The time was last summer and Thompson wouldn't or most likely couldn't give Shields the money he wanted after the Rodgers and Matthews contracts. Williams will be gone or offered a chance to play for a whole lot less, that will help but it may not be enough. Nelson is going to be a top priority or the Packers are going to have the highest paid QB in the NFL with no one other than Cobb and Boykin to throw the ball to. Shields IMO is a higher priority than Raji and he'll cost more.

Stroh's picture

Packers have planned for this. I don't think it'll be a problem for them to sign Shields. In fact I don't think there'll be any problems signing the players they want. That's especially true if Finley isn't able to play again, which is still possible. Packers are always ahead of the game when it comes to contracts. They'll know who they want and have plans on how to sign them.

nick perry's picture

I agree, if there's one thing Thompson does have it's a plan. It will be interesting to see how it all unfolds because there's a lot of key players coming up on contracts. With Free Agency one thing is certain, teams throw stupid money at players that frankly aren't worth that much.

RC Packer Fan's picture

interesting side note. Carolina Panthers claimed Taverras King off waivers. The WR the Packers tried signing that the Broncos blocked them by signing him, Only releasing him 2 days later. #shitmovebydenver....

nick perry's picture

That is interesting. Almost seems like they went out of their way to keep King from Packers. Who knows, maybe Harper will turn into something. If there's one thing we've learned since 1992, the Packers QB can make just about any receiver look great.

Evan's picture

I have confidence in Ted getting this done and making it work. It's not Ted's style to let young talent walk away.

Robert's picture

If House can keep his current performance, I can see TT cuting Tramon.

Evan's picture

Cutting or restructing Tramon. They'll get salary relief when Pickett's deal expires. There are ways it can be done.

Of the main free agents next year, neither Finley, Jones nor Raji will demand big raises from what they're currently earning. Neal should be affordable. They'll have to pay EDS, but that shouldn't break the bank either.

Evan's picture

Oh, I forgot, Kuhn will be off the books too.

Robert's picture

I agree that they probaly don't deserve big rises but I'm pretty sure Raji want a big deal, and not sure to left go Pickett, maybe 1 more year, we'll see...

Evan's picture

Raji is already making a lot though - something like $6+ mil. If he gets a pay bump, it'll likely be modest.

And I agree about Pickett. But if he re-signs for a year or two, it'll surly be at a reduced salary.

redlights's picture

I think Bush is making 2.5 or so, too. But not next year

Longshanks's picture

Excellent points Zach. I agree, right now Shields gambled and is winning. This guy is a top 5 corner in the NFL. Could be a hall of famer if he can maintain his speed. I think of Darrell Green of the Washington (can't say the name it's too offensive) when I see Shields.

About the only thing the Packers have going for them in terms of leverage over Shields is if they are gambling on their incredible medical and training staff and Shields will suffer some type of injury (possibly a hamstring?) where he'll end up missing a large part of the second half and thus his value goes down.

In all seriousness, they need to get Shields signed ASAP. His age and his skills all say he's the perfect player that TT loves and will pay him the money he deserves. He's elite like Matthews and Rodgers.

nick perry's picture

I'll say this, if Shields has big games against Marshall of the Bears, Jackson of the Eagles, Megatron, White of Atlanta and the Giants receivers who always seem to kill the Packers, he could be looking at top 5 corner money.

denniseckersley's picture

Franchise. Tag.

We have too much depth, and I don't see Shields as someone who is immune to a dramatic fall-off.

Pay him top dollar for one more year, and let him walk.

Better than giving him 8.5 million for 5 years.

denniseckersley's picture

I understand why people say that Shields has tipped the scales of leverage in his favor for impending negotiations. However, the fact of the matter remains that Sam Shields has a GBP neck tattoo. That is unparalleled leverage.

Mike's picture

Cut Tramon, give Shields his contract. Then, sign House to a "Jordy" deal

Randy's picture

Given all the FA's set for next year and the # of solid CB's on the roster, I believe that Tramon Williams is not long for this team. His 8 mill plus the 2 Shields is currently making should just about cover it.

Worldstab's picture

Now that we won't be resigning Finley for big money, more money to spend for Shields.

Evan's picture

Ass.

Worldstab's picture

I know it sounds bad, but it's true. I'm sure that TT and others wait to extend contracts because of this very thing. Because of this I'm surprised more players don't hold out in the off-season.

nick perry's picture

I don't think he meant it that way Evan. At least I hope not.

Steven's picture

Agree with evan. Thats not even funny

packsmack25's picture

My biggest hope is that he won't want to leave with a giant tattoo of the Packers Super Bowl ring on his neck.

hayward4president's picture

Yeah .....cover-ups are never a good idea. Usually just looks like a black blob.

joshywoshybigfatposhy's picture

MY biggest hope is that the big Lebowski kills me before the germans cut my dick off.

denniseckersley's picture

awesome

TommyG's picture

Any starter that survives this season is going to be after a big pay day.

THEMichaelRose's picture

Anyone justifying an $8 million raise for Shields with things like how Raji's salary won't increase, and how Tramon's ~$8 million might be coming off the books, do not understand economics, let alone cap economics.

That sort of thinking is what gets teams in cap hell. It's not as simple as, take 2 out of this bucket and add it to that bucket, and take this other bucket away, and bring in this new rookie bucket.

There will be rookies who need money. House might need an extension at a raise. EDS will get more than he currently makes, as will everyone's new boy Jamari Lattimore, and maybe Johnny Jolly. If they keep James Jones - does he get a raise?

Point is - there is one huge bucket of dollars that needs to go towards building a team. And the Packers have made their beds with two extremely highly paid players. The draft and develop concept will be tested because of that. Some key young guy like Shields, Cobb, Raji, or Bulaga will not be able to be kept.

Stroh's picture

The packers allocate parameters for positons t some degree. That being the case it is entirely conceivable that releasing Tramon frees up those same dollars at that position group. The only thing preventing it would be a signing bonus acceleration in Williams signing bonus. From what I can tell that would be minimal. It would be quite easy to then release Tramon or renegotiate it down to free up money for Shields.

Same kinda cap mgmt works on the DL w Pickett and Raji. Both aren't under contract next year but those dollars are still allocated to the DL. Raji will get done 1st then go to Pickett and say we can afford to pay you what's left.

Obviously this is simplified for the sake of the discussion but it doesn't have to be a lot more complicated either. They also have approximately 11M in cao dollars from this year yet to be allocated. So they'll have enough to sign the guys they want w/o mortgaging the future.

Packers probably have this stuff figured out up to 2 yrs into the future.

Jake's picture

Rodgers and Matthews' cap numbers go way up next season.

Evan's picture

I'll never understand NFL contracts.

Next year Rodgers' base goes from $4.5 mil to $900,000 but his cap number goes from $12 mil to $17.9 (and goes up about $1 mil a year from there).

Matthews goes from $6.7 to $11.1 (and adds about $1 mil a year as well).

Ryan's picture

I hope he can work out a budget to live on $900k next year. (What? He received a direct deposit for $40,000,000 into his checking account earlier this year?) Yeah, he should be fine.

Something else funny....Rodgers will get more money for working out than I will make in 10 years. Insert "QB workout" jokes here.

NK's picture

Just for clarification but I believe we cannot use the franchise tag on a player that was signed to a restricted offer (this year's second-round offer).

Also, I believe once he signed that offer the Packers cannot sign him to an extension until the end of the season. That is why it was such a risk not signing him before the season.

I agree with others that Tramon will be cut after the season and the money will be used to sign Shields. In TT we trust.

hump's picture

shields gone..... raji gone... EDS gone.. james jones gone..... reduce tramon and make sure neal pickett jolly and lattimore get resigned for 3 mil a year type contracts. much better to keep 4 solid contributers for 12 mil a year rather than dump it all into one player for 12 mil a year,unless that guy is a qb or a (once in a lifetime) guy like clay. dont forget, cobb and bulaga and jordy are due next year,and i would put my money on them before i would ever bet on shields keeping up this level of play. ted has drafted and developed great,but now its time to pay the piper!! thats why ive fkn harped on this relentlessly, there must be a happy medium between draft and develop and mixing in reasonable priced free agents to help win championships now,cuz now all these young studs are gonna go where the money is and could care less about what ted thompson has done for them!! there is NO HOMETOWN DISCOUNTS WITH ROSENHAUS OR HIS KIND!!!

redlights's picture

Whats the diff between "reasonable priced" FA's and Shields? You get what you pay for. I see at least one DL moving on and Tramon will renegotiate. Jones won't get a raise if he stays.

Draft will be TE's and Safety's. My guess is two of each; and not low.

markinmontana's picture

I can also see a situation where both Shields and Tramon are not with the team next year...I'm not sure where the money will go but there are too many areas to spend it on. It would be sad to see them go, but if House improves his consistency, he and Casey Hamstring should be more than adequate, with Hyde or next year's rookie as the third corner.

Longshanks's picture

I don't see why so many people are so willing to give up Sam Shields? The guy is 25 years old and he's one of the top shut down corners in the NFL as we speak. He's only going to get better, that's the key.

Just think, 5 years of elite corner skills you are going to get at minimum. How much is it worth to a Dom Capers knowing you can stick your man on a Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall, A.J. Green, Dez Bryant and not have to worry about these guys killing you? To me, it's huge and Sam Shields is a huge part of our success. He was the main reason we even won a super bowl and he's getting better people.

Think about it. Why would we want to let this guy go at 25 years of age? He's already proven he can do it there's no more need to f around with him. House and Heyward are not in Shields class when it comes to his speed and cover skills. Think Darrel Green, think Deion Sanders. Now think Sam Shields. I rest my case. Sign the man!!

Evan's picture

Who is willing to give him up? Some people seem resigned to the fact that he'll be too expensive, but I don't see anyone who wants to just let him walk.

That said, I want him to stay and think TT will get it done. Has TT ever let a young, talented, cornerstone player get away?

Stroh's picture

Nope! That is part of the reason I believe Shields will get done and don't spend time worrying about it. Thompson/Ball will get it done.

Chuck's picture

Shields is as good as gone and has been since he didn't accept the extension. Very rarely will the Pack let a high price player hit FA that they keep (see Matthews and Rodgers). They did it to Pick though.

You could probably sign EDS, Pickett, and Jolly for the same price as one Shields.

I think Raji will want too much too. The combination of Jolly/Daniels replaces Raji. Pick will be back.

As for the point of a shutdown corner bringing a Super Bowl, I didn't see Revis win one. I remember winning a Super Bowl with Craig Newsome and Doug Evans at corner. It isn't like we don't have any other corners who can play. Maybe not as good as Shields, but they aren't bad.

You can only pay so many players big money. There is no way the Pack will take the chance of loosing Cobb after next year. Look for our to retain cheaper free agents. Then extensions to Jordy and Cobb.

nick perry's picture

I'd much rather have Shields than Raji signed. The Packers have some young decent talent. I'd bet that Worthy grows into a good solid DL when he comes back. Pickett loves the Packers and will be back for less next year I'd bet. If Shields is able to slow down or better yet shut down Dez Bryant, Brandon Marshall, Megatron, Josh Gordon, Nicks or any of the other Giants receivers, Desean Jackson, or any other receiver the Packers will see or have seen, Rosenhaus will ask for the moon or more than Ted thinks he's worth. Even if they cut or restructure Williams, sign Pickett for a whole lot less, they have to consider getting Cobb locked up and Nelson past 2014. Otherwise you have the top QB in the NFL without receivers by 2014. Like mentioned Ted has plan. You can't keep everybody as the Ravens found out. At some point you run out of money. This is the one thing I love about Thompson the most. He's the best at managing the cap there is in the NFL.

hump's picture

make no bones,shields is performing at the highest level,but unfortunatley drew rosenhaus knows that and will command top 10 money(10 mil yr) remember: 2yrs ago,sam couldnt tackle well enough to keep starting job. on the other hand clay III,you knew what you had the day he stepped on the field,and that will never change. you cannot give top 10 money to a guy that has 1 great year!... ted will prbly offer 5 yrs 35 mil and rosenhaus will laugh histericlly

themasterfake's picture

Nothing makes All-Pro corners like PRESSURE. Pay pressure and go with average corners that develop. There is no other way.

ben's picture

2014 53man
QB: Rodgers, Flynn, draftpick(late)
RB: Lacey, DuJuan, Franklin, draftpick(late)
FB: draftpick(late)
WR: Cobb, Jordy, draftpick(early), Boykins, Harper
TE: Finley, Stoneburner, draftpick(early2mid), Bostick
OL: Bakhtiari, Sitton, EDS, Lang, Bulaga, Barclay, Tretter, Sharrod
DL: Neal, Daniels, Datone, Jolly, Pickett, Boyd, draftpick(mid)
LB: Matthews, Perry, Jones, Lattimore, Hawk, draftpick(late), Mulumba, Palmer
CB: House, Shields (franchised), Heyward, Tramon, Hyde
S: Burnett, Richardson, draftpick(mid), McMillian, Banjo
ST: Goode, Crosby, Masthay

nick perry's picture

Not bad Ben, but you forgot Worthy, he'll be back. I have to wonder about McMillan too. He's looked worse this year IMO than last. M.D. Jennings has played better than him so far this season. I also don't think Ted spends another pick on a RB but like the roster. One can only hope and pray Finley is able to play again. No way does T.T. pay him what he made the last two seasons if he's able to comeback.

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