Monday starts the beginning of a two-week block of time in which NFL teams must decide if they want to use the franchise tag. Even though there is plenty of speculation that the Green Bay Packers will use the franchise tag on cornerback Sam Shields , the reality is they should not go this route.
Many teams will take advantage of the insurance policy that is typically used on players who the organization wishes to ink a long-term deal with down the road, but simply can’t right now. However, I believe the Packers can get a lengthy deal done with Shields, which is why they shouldn’t give into the pressure of using the tag.
There’s no question Green Bay wants Shields back next season, as well as, on the roster for years to come. He’s by far their most important potential free agent signing of the offseason. In fact, losing Shields to another team would put a significant dent in the Packers’ secondary, one that they wouldn’t be able to easily overcome. For that reason, using the franchise tag makes sense because it guarantees that Shields will be starting at cornerback this year with the possibility of signing him to long-term contract next offseason.
The downside to using the franchise tag is that Green Bay would have to pay Shields approximately $11 million for 2014. Not to mention, it would be a significant blow to the salary cap, which the Packers would like to avoid. The reason for that is because Green Bay is in a prime position to make some top-notch acquisitions in free agency and they can’t afford to have Shields taking up half of the free cap space. If the Packers sign him to a multi-year deal, then Shields’ salary-cap figure would be much more reasonable.
Shields’ agent, Drew Rosenhaus, will be meeting with the Packers at the NFL Combine later this week. The hope is that an agreement can be struck so that Green Bay can focus on other important tasks at hand, such as signing outside free agents to improve the defense.