I had just finished my write up on CB Sam Shields for my Bears free agency post (coming soon), when I saw that the Packers had agreed to a deal with Shields for 4 years, $39M. That makes Shields one of the three highest paid corners in the NFL. Wow. Shields is a good corner and only 26 so he has some upside, but CB Brent Grimes who is already one of the 3 best corners in the NFL just got $8M a year. Shields has potential to be great, but he’s not there yet. He is inconsistent, injury-prone, and is a liability against the run.
Shields was ProFootballFocus’ 52nd ranked corner last year and had the 4th worst grade against the run (107th of 110) in the league for cornerbacks who played at least 25% of their teams snaps. They rank Shields as the 6th best free agent corner, just ahead of Charles Tillman who will probably make about a 5th of Shields per season price. ESPN Insider’s Bill Polian, who was the Colts GM for 13 years, gave Shields a C+ grade. That C+ grade translates to a slightly above average starter worth around $3M per season. CBS Sports ranks Shields as the 6th best free agent corner with a grade of 72, which is the equivalent to a barely above average starter.
The Packers have historically been a very smart organization under GM Ted Thompson, so it’s possible they know something about Shields that the rest of the league doesn’t and they expect significant improvement from Shields, but I would be shocked if there were any other teams out there offering close to just under $10M per season for a player that seems to be universally considered just above average. I admit I was hoping the Bears made a run at Shields because I think he’s a very good cover corner (when healthy), but if the Bears had given Shields that same contract I would have been disgusted. I’m interested to hear what Packer fans have to say? The few I know are happy that Shields is in the fold, but upset with the price. At the end of the day, the Packers got better and the Bears missed a chance to do the same. Let’s hope that the huge cap hit the Packers took to bring Shields back comes back to haunt them down the road.