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Tundra Vision: Shields Signing Misses The Mark

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Tundra Vision: Shields Signing Misses The Mark

The Green Bay Packers signed free agent cornerback Sam Shields to a 4-year, $39M contract extension on Saturday, a few days before Free Agentpalooza kicks off on Tuesday. The deal was met with a collective cheer throughout Packer Nation, and with a collective eyebrow-raise throughout the rest of the league. By most accounts, the size of the contract was impressive, though not quite what an NFL elite corner would be expected to garner this offseason. Given that Shields has yet to be named as a Pro Bowl-caliber player, the general consensus has been that general manager Ted Thompson decided to pay Shields for his future growth potential, not necessarily what he’s already proven on the field.

And, in isolation, the contract appears to be a relatively fair one for the impact they hope that he brings to the team, particularly with the strong possibility that Tramon Williams, who is in the last year of his contract, may depart at the end of the 2014 season. He’s a young, up-and-coming player that has solid man-coverage skills, and you can bet another team in dire need of a corner would be willing to invest a sizable portion of their cap into a young player with his prime years ahead of him.

But this isn’t just a signing in isolation for the Green Bay Packers. Every offseason is a grand puzzle that must be carefully measured, with resources allocated in such a way to put the best product out on the field come September.  The Shields signing gives the Packers a solid starter for the next few seasons at a position nowhere near as desperate for starters or depth as many others on the defense. Allow me to explain a couple of reasons why I question the prudence of Sam Shields return.

The Tundra Vision Disclaimer:

I am not an NFL GM. I have never been an NFL GM. I have no serviceable experience that would qualify me to become an NFL GM. Therefore, my opinions and observations are based on the same information the rest of us have. However, if you’re going to play the “You’re not an NFL GM, so what do you know?” card, let me remind you that all present NFL GMs aren’t exactly forthcoming on all of their strategies and secrets, and even former GMs are pretty close to the vest. It’s hard to talk about moves the Packers make if no one is allowed to speak unless they are or have been a GM. So, I’m going to express my opinions, and you can take it or leave it. I don’t hate Ted Thompson, want him fired, or think he’s a terrible GM. He made a move I question, and I’m going take 1,000 words or so to clearly explain why.

And, if you have also never been an NFL GM, you also have no idea what you’re talking about and have no idea if I’m right or wrong. Lead by example.

1. The entire defense is broken

In 2013, the Green Bay Packers gave up 26.8 points per game (24th in the NFL), 372 yards per game (25th), allowed 59% of fourth down conversions (25th), allowed opposing quarterbacks a 95.9 passing efficiency rating (25th), forced only 11 interceptions (25th), and gave up 4.6 yards per rush (27th). By nearly every calculable metric, the Packer defense was a bottom-third-in-the-league unit last season. One could easily make the case that, with the experimental data derived from his injury last season, Aaron Rodgers might be the only thing keeping this team over .500.

One can also make the case that Sam Shields, who was the team’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2013, prevented that defensive unit from being that much worse. However, maintaining the status quo at cornerback isn’t what is going to solve the ailments that this defense suffers from, and I’d even go far as to venture that the Packers have enough talent on the roster at corner to be competitive if the more important areas were addressed.

In a 3-4 defensive scheme, it is critical that the middle of your defense is sound and stout. Your nose tackle has to be strong enough to take on several blockers and collapse the middle of your pocket in order to allow the ends and rush linebackers to make plays. The inside linebackers have to be stout against the run and eat up blockers to, again, allow the outside players to make an impact. And, the safeties have to be strong in their roles: a free safety covers the back half of the field and gets players in position to make plays, while the strong safety plays in the box and checks receivers coming off the field.

All of the players in the middle of the field set the table for the players out the outside to make the plays, and one could make the case that the Packers have the guys on the outside: Clay Matthews, Mike Neal, Shields, Williams, Jolly, and Pickett. But without the guys in the middle doing their job, your impact players (and number of impact plays) suffer.

B.J. Raji was reduced to the impact of an inert dead washing machine this season, and the impact of the pass rush (time in the pocket) and porous run defense has been evident as a result. The expected one-year extension to Raji, as with Shields, does little to improve the real problems that the defense has.

In the interior of the linebacking corps, A.J. Hawk has regressed from his impressive 2010 campaign, while guys like Brad Jones and Nick Perry have proven to be poor replacements for Desmond Bishop. With Mike Neal a free agent, the Packers are already looking at a squad that has more money tied up in it than any other on the team ($18.7M), and conceivably could be looking at upgrading two of four starters.

And, we don’t even need to talk about the debacle of the safety position. There’s so much that needs to be fixed on the defense, but most importantly it needs to be fixed in the right places. Re-signing Shields and hoping he improves the defense is like signing a better quarterback and putting him behind a still-terrible offensive line.

The Packers have $35M in cap space to sign draft picks, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and any of their other free agents from their own roster, as well as the less-likely possibility of signing outside free agents. The investment of $5.6M this year (and more beyond) at a position that’s not nearly as high a need brings us to my next point.

2. Shields is a great player, but not at the price he comes at beyond 2015.

Zach Kruse tweeted last night that Shields was money against some of the receivers he matched up against last season.

A.J. Green, Josh Gordon, Brandon Marshall and Calvin Johnson in 2013 (5 games): Allowed 8 catches, 129 yards, 1 TD.

Zach went on to add that these statistics were derived only from passes targeted at Shields, and that the only receivers who got the best of Sam last season were Anquan Boldin in the opener and Pierre Garcon in garbage time. That’s pretty good in isolation, but still doesn’t place him at an elite level in the league.

Just as important are the final defensive rankings from Football Outsiders, which rank a team’s performance against their #1, #2, and #3 receivers. This season, the Packers didn’t fare so well against opposing team’s No. 1 receivers, ranking 27th overall in the NFL while giving up 80 yards a game. If you counter that perhaps that was Tramon covering the #1 receiver most of the time, the Packers also ranked 27th in the league against the #2 receiver.

Once you get to the Packers performance against the #3 receivers, our defense ranked 10th in the league..but I have a hard time thinking AJ Green, Josh Gordon, Brandon Marshall, and Calvin Johnson are #3 receivers.

The same source that provided Zach’s stats, Pro Football Focus, ranked Shields as the 14th-best cornerback in the league in its coverage snaps-per-reception metric. However, PFF also ranked Shields as the 52nd best overall cornerback in its season-ending rankings…a far cry from a player deserving a franchise contract.

Does this mean he’s terrible? Of course not. We know what we have and know he’s a good cornerback. The problem is that he’s not the answer when it comes to transforming this defense.

Shields expected cap hit this season is only around $5.625M, a figure that has many in Packer Nation cheering that we have him for less than half of what a franchise or transition tag might have cost us. But in 2015, that figure jumps to $9.125M, an amount that almost guarantees the departure of fellow cornerback Williams. In 2016 and 2017, his cap hit will be around $12.125M, just behind Aaron Rodgers ($19.6M) and Clay Matthews ($13.7M).

If the Packers had all the other pieces in place and could afford this contract, this is actually a really good deal. He could be let go after 2015 with only a $6.25M signing bonus acceleration. But again, the feeling of saving money today and kicking the cost/decisions down the road mask the real issues.

3. Moving forward

There comes a time when every team has to face moving on after winning a Super Bowl, and it’s very hard to do so when you are surrounded by players who helped take you to the top of the mountain. With a couple of substandard drafts in recent years, Ted Thompson has to make the moves that will keep this team competitive today and down the road.

It’s a heck of a lot easier when you walk in and you’re evaluating Mike Sherman’s roster. You look objectively at what they have to offer, and look to upgrade wherever you can, whenever you can with your own players. But when you’ve won a Super Bowl, you start keeping players around for perhaps a year too long, like Charles Woodson or Donald Driver.

Look, would I be thrilled with Tramon Williams starting alongside Casey Hayward or Davon House next year instead of Shields? Of course not. Both are oft-injured players who haven’t come close to showing what their real potential might actually be.  But if you told me that the Packers were going to turn their attention to getting in a productive  ILB, a great FS, and an impact 3-4 defensive lineman (or even played with the idea of a scheme change that would complement that talent on the roster), would the cornerback situation bother me as much? No.

I don’t know why we’d be as concerned about House and Hayward competing for the opposite corner spot, when we appear more than content to have open competition battles every offseason at safety, outside linebacker, inside linebacker, and one of the defensive end positions. Add young Micah Hyde in that group, and there’s a chance you have three solid players next season vying for Shields’ spot.

To me, there’s a level of fear. A fear to change a scheme or a defensive coordinator because they won a Super Bowl for you three years ago. A fear to change the script that you’ve followed since then, even if it is no longer making you better.

By signing Shields and Raji, the 2014 Packers haven’t improved over the 25th-ranked unit they were last season (29th according to Football Insider’s DVOA stats, by the way). They’ve maintained the status quo and limited their firepower to improve upon it, not only this season, but down the line.

So, what’s going to change in the defensive kitchen? The cook (Capers) is still wearing the chef’s hat. The recipe (3-4 defense) is still in place. And there’s no change thus far in the ingredients (the players) that will make an immediate impact other than draft picks.

If you do what you’ve already done, you’ll get what you’ve already gotten.

Hey, I’m more than happy to be wrong about Shields. He’s a great kid and deserves a fat contract. I’m proud that he’s a Green Bay Packer and will cheer for him with all my heart, as I always have.

But he’s not the fix this defense needs to help the offense get back to a Super Bowl.

-------

C.D. Angeli is a longtime Packers fan and feature writer for CheeseheadTV. He also helps run PackersTalk.com and can he heard as a co-host of  Cheesehead Radio. Follow him on Twitter @TundraVision.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (27) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Jordan's picture

Good article.

Shields played out his contract year and hit paydirt.

My initial thoughts are Shields was overpaid. But then again, he might have been the most under paid corner in the NFL for the last 4 years.

Did Ted Thompson have a change a heart somewhere along the line? Do the Packers make the playoffs in 2010 without Shields? Thompson did gamble and lose on 2nd rounder Pat Lee being that guy. If the Packers don't make the playoffs in 2010 and win the Super Bowl, does Ted Thompson still have a job with Packers?

Maybe he's got a soft spot for Shields.

I see lots of people posting about what Shields did against Calvin Johnson in 2013. Calvin Johnson didn't even play in one of the games. And Johnson wasn't even needed during the ass whooping on thanksgiving.

Ultimately, I like signing of Shields because I like Shields. In the first game of 2013 vs 49ers, watch Shields backup Matthews when all hell breaks loose on late hit of Kaepernick. He goes right after Boldin. Shields had his back. Very cool. That right there is good enough for me if it turns out the Packers did overpay him. We'll soon find out if they did.

4thand1's picture

Wow, you sound like arlo. You do make a lot of good points. What's wrong with being deep at CB, especially with the receivers in the NFCN. The Pack still has $$$ and the cap is sure to go up over the next 2 years. We were left thin as hell at LB and D-line. Also the defense suffers with no offense for half a season, & CMIII so your stats are scewed. We all can agree that the Pack has to get stronger up the middle & they still can. My glass is still more than 1/2 full. There are a lot of moves to make. Also this sieve of a defense as you have labeled it, did a pretty dam good job against SF, who came one play away from the big dance.

4thand1's picture

*skewed*

Stroh's picture

Personally I'm trusting that Thompson, McCarthy and Capers know what the Defense needs to be successful. I also believe they have a plan to fix the Defense. There will be more moves made in the next few weeks to start to sure up the deficiencies.

The '12 Defense was 11th overall in the NFL. With a little health that is easily attainable even w/o significant additions being made. With a little development of any number of young players one or more of them are likely to take the next step. Might even find a playmaker in the draft, tho I'm not sure it would be an immediate fix.

The D needs another playmaker or 2 to become elite again. Losing the closest thing we have to a playmaker on D after Matthews is not the way to find another one. Signing Shields was close to a MUST. Find a Safety in FA, maybe even Byrd, would be a big help. Even w/o Byrd just finding a competent NFL safety would go a long way.

All due respect to the author IMO he's way off base. The D doesn't get better by taking the 2nd best player and next closest thing to a playmaker out of it. Yes a couple moves are still necessary. Packers have the cap room and motivation to make the moves necessary.

Ruppert's picture

The fact that other areas of the defense are much worse means it's that much more important to keep the CB position an area of strength. Tramon isn't getting any younger and might drop off this year. I like Casey Hayward, but what if he is as big of a non-factor in '14 as he was in '13? I like this re-signing.

If this is the only thing we do this offseason (besides the draft) to address the defense, I will hate this re-signing. We still have cap room to bring in some free agents. We need to do that. If this signing is followed by some free agent signings to help other areas of the defense, I will like this re-signing a lot.

And I'm not sure your point about Capers and his scheme remaining really have anything to do with this re-signing being a good or bad thing.

Jordan's picture

Definitely the Packers need improvement from their front seven whether it be by the draft or they get lucky and don't have any injuries. An improved front seven will take the pressure off of the secondary.

I think that free agent safety Byrd that everyone's been talking about was a 2nd rounder and made the pro bowl his rookie season. So don't give up on the draft helping immediately at safety although there will need to be a lot of luck involved.

Allan Murphy's picture

SHOW THEM YOUR BEAST MODE SAM WILL SHUT UP THE NAY SAYERS !

ricky's picture

Some things to consider. First, although re-signing Shields doesn't solve any of GB's defensive problems, it doesn't create new problems either. Without Shields, its just another hole to fill with unknowns/unprovens.

Second, since the salary cap has risen this year by an unexpected $10 million, it only makes sense that the price for re-signing players would go up. Until the numbers start coming in for the FA CB's, its difficult to say if the signing was a bargain or a ripoff. Beides, you seem to ignore the probability of the cap increasing significantly in the next few years, at which time the salaries for Shields, CMIII and AR could well seem relatively cheap in two or three years. Add in the FA's other top teams are going to have to pay...

Now, you posit simply getting three impact players on defense to minimize the importance of the CBs. Right, I agree. Now find them, sign them and guarantee they'll stay healthy.

So, keep the faith. Because its still early, and though you disagree on this issue, in reality, only time will tell
if this was a good move or a mistake. Or something in between.

TommyG's picture

"although re-signing Shields doesn't solve any of GB's defensive problems, it doesn't create new problems either."

You hit the nail on the head. With all of the other issues at Safety, DL, and ILB, it is good to see that CB is taken care of for the time being.

TommyG's picture

Wow, doom and gloom from every angle their, CD!

TommyG's picture

*there, not their* We need our edit function back because my proof sucks.

GBPack's picture

"A.J. Green, Josh Gordon, Brandon Marshall and Calvin Johnson in 2013 (5 games): Allowed 8 catches, 129 yards, 1 TD."

"That’s pretty good in isolation, but still doesn’t place him at an elite level in the league."

If those totals against that foursome isn't elite I don't know what is.

HankScorpio's picture

In the end, it all boils down to Shields. The author makes a nice attempt at backing up that Shields isn't all that. He uses some general team metrics, which don't necessarily say anything about Shields. He also uses PFF rankings. PFF said Micah Hyde was a better CB than Shields in 2013. Given what I saw play out on the field, I'd say PFF lost the plot somewhere along the way. They forgot to include some kind of sanity check on their ranking system and the results were insane in some cases.

What I saw was a young, speedy CB with decent ball skills that has shown a knack for big plays at big moments. He's improved a lot during his time in GB and still has room to grow.

Yeah, count me among the ones that are happy that the Packers got Shields re-signed. Now, they can get to work on the rest of the defense, comfortable in the knowledge there won't another hole to fill if Shields were to walk.

ballark's picture

I watched that Dallas game again recently and there's a play where Shields is 1-on-1 vs Dez with about 4 minutes to go. Shields makes an game saving play, batting the ball away. Two minutes later, a game-changing INT that he somehow catches with his finger tips. You all saw it.

These are elite plays. He's young. You pay the man. Do we have a young bunch in Heyward, Hyde and House on the come up? Sure we do. But I've yet to see any of those guys shut down Dez Bryant 1-on-1.

As for the rest of defense, it's way too soon to go judging that. Free agency hasn't even begun. Let's be patient and see what happens next.

4thand1's picture

No I'm not a GM. I don't have what it takes to be one. I can second guess with the best of them . I'm sure none of us put in the time and effort a GM and HC put in on the job. They're in a multi billion dollar business that puts pressure on them every day to put a winning franchise on the field. Winning is everything in the NFL. Putting a playoff caliber team on the field brings in lots of cash to a franchise. The Packers are one of the most profitable sports franchises out there. Here's to hoping they keep their winning ways and never regressing to the 70's and 80's. They get paid a lot of money for good reason.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Wow, CD makes a lot of arguments using questionable "facts" w/o anyone noting them in their posts. This sounds like an article written by a national writer who doesn't really know the Packers. And yet if the main premise is that re-signing Shields merely maintains the status quo and the price is a touch steep, I tend to agree with the author, but still think GB made the right choice. I do not agree with CD that the cap space might have been spent better elsewhere. It appears to me that GB can bring in some FAs and stay out of Cap hell, and maybe even find a play maker or 2 in the draft.

First, "one could make the case that the Packers have the guys on the outside: CM, Neal, Shields, Williams, Jolly and Pickett." Not sure if CD is making the case, or if this is mere fluff, but it is inane. GB prior to the signing did NOT have Neal, Shields, Jolly or Pickett. How can CD suggest GB has the guys on the outside when 4 of the 6 players he cites are free agents? Plus, Jolly and Pickett are not prototypical DEs, and the consensus seems to be that if either is worth re-signing, it would only be for Vet minimum.

Second, CD wrote that on the inside Hawk, Jones and Perry regressed and noted that Jones and Perry were poor replacements for Bishop. Perry is primarily an outside LB, not an ILB. Hawk had one of his better years. I am not a fan of Hawk's (or Jones') contract, but they would be excellent back-ups. Jones played reasonably well early, then had nagging injuries. Even healthy, I view Jones as only adequate. Perry had the injury bug too.

Third, I agree with GBPACK. In 5 games against AJ Green, Josh Gordon, Brandon Marshall, Calvin Johnson, Shields gave up 8 receptions, 129 yards, and 1 TD. Sounds elite to me. That being said, Shields did not fare so well in some other games, but clearly is an above average CB who is still young and might well continue to get better.

Fourth, CD seems to suggest that GB is spending too much on the LB corps when he notes that the total cap hit for LBs is 18.7 million (in 2013 - its more in 2014). Well, GB normally carries 9 or 10 LBs. When one LB is CM, its not that hard pay the other nine LBs 11 million. I agree that Jones and Hawk were overpaid, but I don't see how that directly affects what Shields should get paid. Sometimes writers throw in such miscellaneous facts like this to make their arguments seem more cogent.

Fifth, I think Tramon is likely to be gone after next year. TT probably won't pay a 31 year old CB or give him a long term contract. I would rather have Shields for 4 years than Tramon for 1 year, and be looking at House, Hayward, Hyde (who I hope is a safety next year) vying for the 2nd CB spot. I would prefer to cut Tramon, whom I like, and have a secondary of Shields, House/Hayward/Hyde at the other CB, and Burnett and Byrd/Clemons at safety.

Finally, CD notes that if Shields does not become an elite CB, he could be cut after 2015 with only a 6.25 million bonus acceleration hit. That is true, but I see no evidence that TT would swallow a $6.25 million salary cap hit as long as Shields is a starting caliber CB, but not elite. In such a case, Shields will play out all or most of his contract unless he is injured or is terrible. Is there an example of TT eating a big hunk of dead money on another player? I can't think of one. I also think that the market in 3 years for a good starting caliber CB on his 2nd contract is likely to be roughly 12 million, but time will tell on that.

tundravision's picture

Re: “Fluff” on the outside.

My point at that juncture was to say that, despite having talent on the outside this past season, our defense was still a sad 25th/29th-ranked unit in the league due to the ongoing issues inside, not in the postseason. Apologies for not making that more clear to you

Re: Replacing Bishop

Hawk and Jones were among the team leaders in tackles this season, which would give you the impression that they must have been good players. But you nailed it when you said that both would be excellent backups. That usually puts them in the “serviceable starter” category, and that means they should be looked to be upgraded upon.

Re: Elite Shields

Elite players are elite week in and week out. He had several good games. He had several poor games. An inconsistent player is not elite. Can he be elite? Absolutely. Is he going to be? I sure hope so now.

Re: LB corps cap hit

Sometimes writers throw in such miscellaneous facts because it actually relates to the argument.

If the argument is that salary cap space would be better allocated to the inside of the defense, where it is weakest right now, you already stuck paying your highest positional hit to the linebacking corps. Neal is a free agent, and you yourself admitted that Hawk and Jones are backup-caliber players. That’s three positions that could/should be upgraded and/or resigned.

Now…try and figure out how that might relate to the signing of Shields, the importance of the inside of the defense to enable the outside to make plays, and how much space he’ll be eating up in 2015 and beyond. I’ll give you some time. Let me know if you need any help.

Re: Tramon

Tramon will be gone after this year. We can’t afford to keep him now. Would I rather have Shields long-term than Williams? Obviously, Shields has more upside being younger. I certainly can’t disagree with you there.

But the point stands that you can bring in Revis Island and Prime Time in his prime to play corner right now, and if there isn’t a pass rush, if you can’t contain the run, and you can’t eat up blockers on the inside, they’ll still be the best corners in the world on a bad defense. Period.

Re: Shields Cap Hit

You never know what happens when a guy is in a contract year. Some, like Raji, wilted. Most others play to the maximum of their ability, looking for a payday. The test is now how he plays now that he’s gotten paid. I’ve seen one too many times a player who got paid and plateaued, or worse, regressed.

So much of the counterargements seems to revolve around whether or not Shields is going to be elite, elite enough, or just continue to be very good. Yet last year at this time, many people were praising the Morgan Burnett extension and tell us that he was the quarterback of the defense, the guy who makes the entire defense work and made people around him better.

Remember that? Look…not everything Thompson does is the Smartest Move Ever Made, and Burnett is just one example.

Evan's picture

"Tramon will be gone after this year. We can’t afford to keep him now."

I think that's hardly a given. It's highly unlikely, if re-signed, he'd make $8+ million.

I don't think it's a coincidence that Shields' cap number jumps the year Tramon's expires. I could easily see Tramon extended at a lesser salary.

gary's picture

I like the move. solidifies our cb position. Now onto better defensive lineman like jones or Houston.

Jamie's picture

At what point did...

1) CB become an insignificant position on any NFL team? It's always been said QB, LT, and CB are the most important positions on an NFL roster, as well as "you can never have too many good CBs".

2) Locking up a "young ascending" player that you have intimate knowledge of their practice, study, locker room, and off the field habits become a bad thing on any team?

3) Signing one defensive contract, leaving close to $25MM in additional 2014 cap space, preclude a GM from seeking out additional help on defense? (See Arthur Jones, Lamarr Houston, etc.)

4) We become so deep at CB that we could let our best, who is only 26 and coming into his own at the position, leave without having a significant impact on a team that has holes to fill as it is? Yes, let's create another one. :/

5) Showing the remainder of your largely homegrown roster that hard work, a clean nose, and steady improvement will earn you a nice contract from one of the, if not THE, greatest franchises in pro sports become unimportant?

CD can't really be this shortsighted, obtuse, and dismissive of facts that demolish his angle. Tell me this is just one of the many trumpt up narratives he's dreamt up to play devils advocate and misguidedly envoke deep thought on the subject.

I am not a fan of the content, methods, or tactics of CD's writings. Cringeworthy IMHO.

Stroh's picture

GREAT comment!! Just outstanding and agree w/ EVERY word of it!

acularw's picture

Smart GM's pay according to what a player will do. Dumb GM's pay based on what they have already done. You shouldn't earn a big money contract by your previous play unless a team feels you will continue that moving forward. I know this is probably obvious but too many people miss it. This is also how you get teams like Dallas, Washington, and Miami that always seem to make dumb mistakes overpaying players that have already peaked.

That is why Sam Sheilds seems like a good deal. That being said, we will see how the CB FA market plays out this week.

Imma Fubared's picture

I like us keeping Shields but I too thought the price was too high. i agree with author, this team needs a lot in the right places.
Just getting more bodies is not the answer. Ted needs key acquisitions.
I see the Pack needed three good drafts to get back to elite competitive. No way this team improves a lot with one draft

ballark's picture

"3 good drafts to get back to elite competitive"

Sorry, but I just don't get this at all. Micah Hyde was two inches away from finishing the 49ers (and we did that without 52 on the field). This team IS elite competitive, right now.

Think about where we're at...
Our offensive line was nasty and gets two #1 picks back next year.
We have Cobb, Nelson and Lacy. What other team has a RB/WR/WR trio that good?
We have the best QB in football.
The defense has been a frustration, true enough. But there is potential. Our secondary is one safety away from being dangerous (and you know that's getting addressed). And among Daniels, Jones, Perry, Worthy, Boyd, there's some hope up front. We'll surely add to that via the draft and maybe even free agency (one can dream).

But whatever happens, enough with the doom and gloom, this Packers team is right there. I'm licking my chops for next season.

EddieLee's picture

I thought the Bear's Tim Jennings set the price for almost elite corners about a month back. He got about $6m per year with $12 m guaranteed. Shields got $9.75 per year with $12.5 guaranteed. Jennings was in fine form last year and went to the pro-bowl as an alternate. But, Shields is 4 years younger then Jennings. That four years is HUGE. I guessed Shields would get more then Jennings based on his age and I was guessing around $8m per year. TT gave him $9.75. Shields had the leverage because he played out his contract and is only 26. TT had to over-pay to stop him from testing the market and $1.75m over-payment per year to guarantee a young solid corner stays on the roster is something we shouldn't fret too much about. And, with the estimated cap limit exploding the next couple years this contract will seem more and more reasonable.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Dear CD:

First let me state that I think your reply to my comment was made with more clarity than the initial article. GB needs a #1 CB, and since I would rather have 26 year old Shields for the next 4 years than Tramon for 1 year, I, with only minor reluctance, support the new deal with Shields. I noted it seemed a bit steep, but I think the CAP is going to increase significantly in the next 3 years and $12/yr for a very good corner might well look OK then. Shields could end this issue by becoming elite, but odds are against it. I clearly noted that Shields did not fare so well in some games last year, and is not currently elite IMO. ["Sounds elite to me" was me quoting GBPACK.]

GB's talent on the outside not counting the D-line seems adequate to me with the resigning of Shields, but not w/o Shields. Perry, CM, Shields and Tramon Williams if retained or House/Hayward/Hyde if not, are adequate. Without Shields, looking forward I thought it was inadequate assuming Tramon will be around only for one more year or that his play might decline due to age if he is re-signed for less money. I objected to your citing of Shields, Neal, Jolly and Pickett as outside talent since they were free agents, and Jolly and Pickett were miscast as outside talent and are only worth small contracts if brought back. We need to upgrade the DEs. One hopes Datone Jones and/or less likely Worthy will improve.

I advocated shifting resources (i.e. cap space) from the outside to the inside. Although one can't have too many CBs, I suggested that Tramon could be cut and the $7.5 cap saving could be used to bring in a FA safety like Clemons or even Byrd, thus shifting resources inside. GB could shift that CAP savings to ILB or DE or NT, or even OLB instead, of course, but any shift depends on a host of factors such as who is available in free agency, and what GB thinks the draft might bring.

Regarding the cap hit at LB, we are in agreement: TT overpaid Hawk and Jones and ILB needs an upgrade. Signing or not signing Shields probably won't change what is paid to the linebackers. The CAP allocation of 18.7 million is largely what economists call a sunk cost. The contracts are signed, and the only way to ameliorate the problem is to cut the players (accepting the "dead money") or get them to restructure (or to coach the players up, a concept seldom seen in GB). To do cuts or restructures, it helps to have viable replacements, which TT has failed to secure. As Stroh points out, it is hard to replace play makers whose careers end unexpectedly due to injury. Thus, Bishop and Collins have not been replaced because TT missed on McMillan and Terrell Manning. I suppose GB could have let Shields walk and used the cap space on an ILB, but the FA ILBs aren't that attractive this year. And in that case GB would not have a viable #1 CB for 2015 short of drafting one high or paying big money to a FA. Plus, I think GB can afford 2 or maybe 3 mid-tier FAs even after signing Shields and can afford 2 FAs even keeping Shields and Tramon.

Finally, any time a GM gives out a big, long term contract, the GM has to consider the player's character and whether he loves football. Once paid, some players slack off. There is a story about Stan Smith, the #1 tennis player in the 70s who was reported to have indicated when asked about his fall in the rankings that he could be #1 in the world and make a lot of money if he trained his butt off and accepted having no life, OR he could train a lot less, have a life, and still make a lot of money as the #5 ranked player in the world. He reportedly opted for the latter.

tundravision's picture

Reynaldo...thanks for the great reply. And I'd agree that my 2,000 word essay rambled a bit and that the criticism forced me to make my points clearer and more precise.

For that, I owe you thanks. Let's hope this deal works out for the best.

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