The Green Bay Packers’ most recent roster moves have been in preparation for long-term contracts for cornerstone players like Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, and B.J. Raji, but Green Bay also has short-term objectives.
First and foremost, the Packers should get cornerback Sam Shields under contract. Shields is a restricted free agent, but the Packers are sure to match any offer from another team. He’s become invaluable to the Packers defense and, I believe, their best corner. Despite missing six games due to an ankle injury, Shields really stepped up and had a fantastic season.
After watching Shields his first two years, fans wondered if he would ever be able to take his raw speed and athletic talent and turn it into a dependable skill set. Things finally clicked for Shields, and his improvement from last year to this was astounding. In 10 regular season games, Shields recorded 28 tackles, one sack, 10 passes defended, and three interceptions. In the postseason, Shields added another 11 tackles, four passes defended, and two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown.
The numbers don’t quite capture the excitement the Packers fans feel for Shields. Fans can’t help but notice how Shields has gone from being a liability in coverage to now providing tight and clean defense, despite the fact of often being on the receiving end of ridiculous flags.
With the loss of Charles Woodson and the worrying inconsistency of Tramon Williams this past season, locking Shields up becomes even more important to Green Bay. Undrafted as rookie, with two up-and-down years before an excellent 2012, Shields is unlikely to elicit any bank-breaking offers from other teams that would keep the Packers from re-signing him. Though he is not a marquee name for Green Bay, assuring his return should be the team’s top priority early in the offseason.