Well today is the deadline for NFL teams to lock up players with the franchise tag and the Packers have not as yet used the tag. Ted Thompson has said that he wants to sign our players as a priority, so with that said there may be some in Packernation who are wondering why Green Bay does not tag cornerback Sam Shields. In fact, we here at GPN do NOT expect an 11th hour contract signing either which means that Sam Shields will hit the free agent market. On the face of it, this course of action seems to say that the Packers do not want Shields back, but let’s break it down:
1. The franchise tag requires a team to pay a player an average of the top five salaries at the position. So if the Packers were to franchise Sam Shields, they would basically be saying, “Sam, we think you are one of a handful of the BEST players at your position in the league.” Now, while I am willing to admit that Sam Shields is one of the bright spots in Green Bay’s backfield, I do not agree that he is one of the five best cornerbacks in the league. In this sense, I agree with the Packers brass in NOT tagging Shields.The current cost to tag a cornerback is $10,854,000 (I have also seen this number reported as 11.8 M). If the Packers are around $30 M under the cap, that means that tagging Sam Shields would eat up more than a third of that barring other free agents that exit this off-season (James Jones, for example). While I would love to see Sam Shields back with Green Bay next season, he is not good enough to warrant that kind of affect on the team’s overall situation.
2. Jarius Byrd reportedly turned down a 3 year, $30 million deal to stay with the Bills. How many out there wouldn’t like to see Green Bay pay $12 M a year and lock up Byrd for three years? I’m not saying that is going to happen, but by not using the money on Shields, that is the kind of leverage Green Bay keeps.
3. What are the chances that other teams are going to value Sam Shields at double digit millions? I think Green Bay is sitting pat, allowing Shields to hit the market and expecting to still have a chance that Shields sees things with a little more perspective.
So the writing on the wall is not really what it seems with the Sam Shields situation. I think the Packers brass are being patient and not overpaying a guy that was a good player in a bad backfield. By not franchising Shields, I read between the lines that the Packers may have their sites set on an even better candidate to play opposite Tramon Williams. There has been a lot of talk about how Ted Thompson doesn’t do anything in free agency and to a great extent I agree and would like to see him do more. I do see in this action with Shields the possibility that TT may be hoarding some cash for more than just to lock up Jordy Nelson. Thompson did bring Charles Woodson to the Pack and it seems that while they remain cool as always, there is some sense of urgency to improve the defense immediately.