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.
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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.