Packers Keep Shields in Key Move for Defense

The Packers re-signed a vital member of their beleaguered defense by inking Sam Shields to four-year deal. The contract details mean the Packers have plenty of money to make some more moves in free agency.

The Green Bay Packers, who badly need to strength their defense, made a key move in that direction by re-signing cornerback Sam Shields on Saturday.

Agent Drew Rosenhaus announced the transaction on Twitter, and Shields took to Twitter to say "God is Good!!!" and "Sooooooo happy to be back with my family #GoPack!!!!!"

According to ProFootballTalk.com's Dan Florio, the deal is for four years and $39 million. It includes a $12.5 million signing bonus. Shields will receive a total $15 million in 2014, $6 million in 2015 and $9 million apiece in 2016 and 2017.

The pro-rated signing bonus equates to $3.125 million. That would make his 2014 cap charge just $5.625 million. Keeping Shields with the franchise tag would have cost the Packers $11.8 million against the cap. With the Packers about $33 million under the cap, they have plenty of firepower for retaining their own free agents, such as Jermichael Finley, Evan Dietrich-Smith, B.J. Raji and James Starks, or adding a player or two.

By not locking up Shields with a midseason extension, they ran the risk of losing him in free agency. Teams other than the Packers were allowed to court free agents beginning at 11 a.m. on Saturday, though no deals are allowed to be signed until 3 p.m. on Tuesday. So, presumably, Rosenhaus had a handful of hours to get a handle on the market for his client.

On Twitter, teammate Tramon Williams said, "Congrats to my bro @ShieldSam37 for getting what he deserves! I've had the honor to watch your growth. I'm proud of you bro!" Arguably the NFL's top cornerback, Richard Sherman, said "Always happy for a man getting what he deserves! Congrats @ShieldSam37."

Shields intercepted a team-high four passes in 14 games this past season. Among his three in the last five games was a season-saving interception at Dallas and a clinching pick at Chicago. By the team's count, he broke up 25 passes. That was almost as many as Williams (14) and Davon House (13) combined. Only Ed Reed (20), Sherman (20) and Williams (18) have more interception than Shields' 17 over the past four seasons (playoffs included). During one-on-one matchups against Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green and Antonio Brown, Shields played like a true No. 1 cornerback.

"When he first came in, he was a receiver playing corner," cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt said at the end of the season. "Now he is a defensive back and a very good one. So there's just a huge, huge difference. He's shown the ability to tackle — which he needs to tackle better than he did this year, but he showed really that last year. The ability to cover No. 1 receivers, the ability to challenge them, the ability to get the ball every time his hands touch it, he's just really come a long way. And his best football's still in front of him. that's the encouraging thing. You haven't seen his best football yet."

Brent Grimes' contract set an early bar when he was retained by Miami on Monday with a four-year deal worth $32 million. Grimes will turn 31 in July; Shields will turn on 27 in December. And while Shields has a history of minor injuries, Grimes missed most of 2012 with a torn Achilles. Shields has as many interceptions in four seasons as Grimes in seven.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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