Sam Shields: A Lesson in Decision Making All Green Bay Packers All the Time
Restricted free agent Sam Shields
Will we see Shields making more plays like this one in 2013 and beyond?

UPDATE:  As of early Monday afternoon, Sam Shields has signed his restricted free agent tender, valued at $2.02 million.  He and the Packers are reportedly still working on a long-term deal.

Restricted free agent cornerback Sam Shields and the Green Bay Packers have not yet been able to agree on a new contract and as a result, Shields has not participated in any of the team’s organized team activities this offseason.

Surely the missed practice time will open the door for another player to possibly unseat Shields and his starting outside cornerback slot, right?  OK, probably not.

This season will be Shields’ fourth in the NFL and he is hardly a rookie.  Furthermore, he is familiar with the team’s defensive scheme and the defensive coaching staff remains largely intact from last season.  It would be premature to say that Shields is falling behind the others because of that missed time.  If the season started today and Shields were under contract with the Packers, my bet is that he would be at one of the two starting outside cornerback spots.  If not a starter, he would see significant playing time.

Clearly, the Packers have a decision to make regarding Shields, but they aren’t the only ones facing consequences of their actions, or inactions.  Both parties have already made some moves and decisions that will impact how this scenario will play out.  Let’s examine a bit further.

During the 2010 playoff run, Shields made a crucial interception late in the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship game that sealed the win for the Packers and sent them to Super Bowl XLV.  In 2011, Shields continued to make plays and develop within the team’s defensive scheme.  One of the last highlights that we saw from the 2012 season was Shields’ interception of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick on the first drive of the Divsional playoff game.  Shields returned it for an easy touchdown and, just like that, the Packers had an early lead.  It is plays like that that have defined Shields’ value to the team.  Most of the attention that Shields has garnered has been because of what he has done on the field.

Shields became a restricted free agent when the 2012 season ended and in mid-March, the Packers placed a second-round tender on Shields.  Most of the attention then shifted to his contract status, or lack thereof, with the Packers.  Because Shields didn’t have enough vested time in the league yet, he was only eligible for restricted free agency.  That means the Packers had the option to tender, or place a value on Shields as they saw fit.  They could have given him a first-round tender, meaning that if another team signed Shields and the Packers chose not to match the deal, the receiving team would forfeit their first round pick to Green Bay.  Packers General Manager Ted Thompson felt a second round tender was enough to likely demotivate other teams from signing Shields and also give the two sides some time to work out a new contract.

Thompson now has two options:  sign Shields to a one-year deal worth the second round tender amount ($2.02 million), after which Shields becomes an unrestricted free agent.  The second option is to come to terms on a longer-term extension that is mutually agreeable.  After his performance last season and the fact that he is just 24 years old, the prevailing consensus is that the Packers and Thompson would prefer the latter.

Shields proved be a difference-maker for this team last season.  After being lost to an ankle injury in week six last season, Shields’ absence from the defensive backfield was noticeable.  Second-year corner Davon House stepped in and was adequate, but it was clear that the Packers’ secondary was not as formidable as it had been with a healthy Shields.  Shields finally returned in early December and immediately propelled a struggling Packers team to another win at home against the Detroit Lions.  From there, Shields went on to post three more interceptions, including one in each playoff game.

The Packers have about $13.5 million in salary cap space this season, even after they signed their two best players, quarterback Aaron Rodgers and linebacker Clay Matthews, to long-term extensions.  That would seemingly place Thompson’s focus on getting Shields signed to a new deal.

Under Thompson, the Packers have not typically been flamboyant with the types of contracts that they give their players.  Sure, there are exceptions.  Matthews is now the highest paid linebacker in the league and Rodgers is currently the highest-paid player in the NFL, but each is a completely different caliber of player.  Their value to the Packers is immeasurable.  Shields is nowhere near that level.  In recent history, the Packers and the core of players that are currently on the roster have, for the most part,  been able to come to contract terms with little squabbling.  Enter Sam Shields and his “super agent”, Drew Rosenhaus.

Some of you with long memories are already reaching for the Alka-Seltzer tablets.  For those with shorter memories, allow me to put the current Shields situation on hold and provide some background on the Packers’ history with Rosenhaus.

2004: Starting cornerback Mike McKenzie was in the second year of a five year deal when he and his agent at the time, Rosenhaus, decided it was time for a new contract.  McKenzie had been an integral part of the team’s success the year prior and as such, he felt he deserved a raise.  He held out of training camp and caused a stir with then Packers head coach and GM, Mike Sherman.  When Sherman refused to give in to McKenzie’s demands, McKenzie demanded a trade and was sent off to the New Orleans Saints.  The Packers turned to first-round pick Ahmad Carroll at McKenzie’s departed corner spot and, well, we all know how that movie ended.

2005: Pro Bowl receiver Javon Walker had just come off of his best season as a pro and, much like McKenzie the year prior, teamed up with his agent, Rosenhaus, to compel the Packers to give him a new deal.  Walker threatened to hold out, causing another stir in Green Bay and prompting then Packers quarterback Brett Favre to speak out against Walker’s tactics and urge him to join the team.  Nearly all of Green Bay and Packer nation were growing very weary of Rosenhaus and his tactics.  Walker ultimately decided to come to training camp on time and earn his money through his play.  He fired Rosenhaus a few months later.

2010 & 2011:  Just when everyone thought it was safe, Rosenhaus struck again, seemingly putting an end to running back Brandon Jackson’s and safety Atari Bigby’s time in Green Bay.  Cheesehead TV’s Brian Carriveau broke those situations down here.

For those who may feel that I’m putting Rosenhaus in a negative light, take a look at this story from last fall about an investigation by the NFL Player’s Association into some questionable business practices.  Rosenhaus clearly doesn’t need my help to illustrate his M.O.  For years, he has been the type of agent that everyone loves to hate, from players to team ownership to fans alike.  Still, he doesn’t care.  He is out to get his and do so in grand fashion.  Even his clients are a distant second on the totem pole.  As such, when a player hires Rosenhaus to represent him, it’s easy to assume that the player has some kind of intention and often times, it’s not the best.  They are either readying for a lengthy negotiation or a holdout.

Now back to Shields.  Carriveau raises an interesting question as it relates to the team’s dealings with Rosenhaus.  Is the fact that Shields has Rosenhaus representing him causing a delay in his getting a new contract?  Only Ted Thompson and Sam Shields know the true answer to that question, but my guess is that it doesn’t help.  Thompson has never been forthcoming about player negotiations.  He doesn’t take to the media to plant little jabs to try and discredit his players or gain leverage.  We can only assume that negotiations are ongoing, but that Thompson is sticking to his usual guns and will not be pushed around by Rosenhaus and his tactics.

If Shields doesn’t know the team’s history with Rosenhaus, someone should bring him up to speed.  If Shields is aware and just doesn’t care, then we may be looking at a key player who could be leaving Green Bay after this season.

Most players prefer not to play on a one-year deal.  Long-term contracts obviously offer more guaranteed money and security for as much risk as there is in playing football.  The Packers, however, are not going to over-pay for anyone.  It’s Rosenhaus vs. Thompson again and the battle is on.  It’s unlikely that this ends soon but at some point, Shields is going to want to get paid.  He can’t do that if he’s not in uniform.

Can Shields make the right decision for himself and his career?  The Packers are hoping so.  However, let’s not forget that this is the same player who, after the Packers won Super Bowl XLV, put a gaudy tattoo of the Packers championship ring on the side of his neck.  Sure, Shields may ultimately end up on another team, but unless he knows a good tattoo removal service, he will always have a big reminder of his time in Green Bay.

At this point, it’s hard to predict how negotiations will go from here and with Rosenhaus at the wheel of the bus, the road to getting a deal done will surely have its share of twists and turns.  Stay tuned!

MORNING UPDATE: Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press Gazette reports that Rosenhaus is meeting with the Packers TODAY

AFTERNOON UPDATE: Albert Breer has just tweeted that Shields has signed his RFA tender.


Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on

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31 thoughts on “Sam Shields: A Lesson in Decision Making

  1. As soon as you got to the “Drew Rosenhaus” punchline, it all fell into place. The Packers like many teams do not negotiate with terrorist. It does say something about Sam Shields to associate himself with such an asshole.

    I don’t see this playing out all that well and we may well be looking at Shield’s last season as a Packer. That is too bad. Glad that he’ll have the tat as a memento of Green Bay.

  2. (cue the John Facenda voiceover)

    Rosenhaus. A certain nausea still lingers in the very name. It speaks of hostile contract negotiations spanning entire seasons. For time untolled, he’s brought divisiveness and contention to the bargaining table. Across the landscape of the NFL lies littered the broken careers and tarnished legacies of some of the game’s greatest players that this man has represented. Never has one man changed the game more profoundly and with worse results than this self-aggrandizing narcissist.

    From college to retirement, countless men’s lives and careers have been compromised to enrich this parasite. Keeping his interests at the forefront of everything he does, Rosenhaus causes dread and contempt in executive suites across the NFL. Only too late do the players he uses come to realize the folly of hiring this leech.

    Rosenhaus. Forever the name lives on in the mind of one man. Rosenhaus.

  3. Shields tackling skills were in question going to camp last year and he wasn’t a lock to make the final 53. He got it together and had a decent year. Mega contract? Holdout? Not quite. I’ve thought all along that the agent was the reason we haven’t signed Shields yet. some cheap advice Sam – hire the agent (David Dunn?) that reps Rodgers and Matthews. You’ll get your money and stay in town too!

    1. A decent year? Per PFF…

      CB Sam Shields from Week 14 on last season: 32 targets, 12 completions allowed, 4 INTs, 7 passes defensed. +14.0 @PFF grade. And…

      Overall, Shields finished 2012 as PFF’s No. 6 overall cornerback (over all games).

      I don’t know about you but that looks like more than a decent year! #6 CB overall for the entire NFL. Some might say that’s bordering on Pro Bowl kinda good!

      Save you cheap advise for someone cheap that might buy it, otherwise its worthless.

  4. With a deep CB unit, Shields has little leverage to work with. His best string to pull is the health of House’s shoulder, but that’s about it.

    1. The big question is what the Packers place as Shields’ value. If Hyde sticks and can play along with Hayward and House taking steps forward this season, Shields could become expendable at the price tag he wants.

  5. Yes, Shields was better than House last year, but you’re missing the fact that House was at maybe 60-70% with that bum shoulder. If that. Shields is a burner CB and House is a ball-hawking/physical CB, which made his shoulder a huge liability.

    The Packers have the leverage here. They have 3 starting quality CBs besides Shields and another CB draft pick that shows promise.

    1. There’s this perception that House is very physical. Let’s make one thing clear, House was anything but physical his rookie season. It took the coaches telling him last off-season that they expect him to bring more physicality to his play.

      To be fair, he responded, and was quite physical last year throughout camp. That said, one camp he was soft; one camp he was physical. That’s a push, and none of us really know what House’s long term game over his career will be at this point.. Finesse, or force?

  6. Shields will sign in due time and the Packers will sign him to a long term contract when they are ready. The Walker and McKenzie dealings were w/ a different, probably incompetent GM. I don’t care for Rosenhaus, I think he’s an ego-maniac, self-centered pompous prick. But Thompson/Ball won’t let their feeling (if they have any) towards an agent dictate anything. Shields is restricted, so he will play in GB this year and Thompson will get him locked up. My guess is at some point during the season.

    I honestly don’t know what all the fuss is about. I have no doubt it will get done and Shields will be in GB for another 5 years or more.

    1. The issue with getting Shields signed is a matter of how long the team wants him for. If he signs the 1 year tender, the Packers cannot extend him during the season. He plays out the year and then becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end. If they want him beyond this season, they have to come to an agreement on a longer deal.

      I agree the Packers have more leverage right now and they have established their typical demeanor in negotiating contracts under this administration.

      I used the McKenzie situation as a historical example and I could not agree more about Sherman’s ineptness as a GM. The Walker situation was on Thompson’s watch, as he was hired in January, 2005. I have to think Thompson’s style vs. Sherman’s was what led Walker to stand down and report to training camp.

      Still, I don’t think we’ll see an agreement for Shields for some time to come. The soonest I’d expect is just prior to training camp.

      1. The Walker deal was a great trade for the packers. He flamed out everywhere after the packers and was a head case. a second round pick for a guy with one year of good production is pretty good. Last I heard of Walker he was getting his necklace snatched and dumped in an alley in Vegas.

      2. You don’t think the packers want Shields long term? They don’t take pkayers develop them into qualty starters and then let them walk in FA. I don’t see why they don’t get a deal done for 5yrs. I think Shields signs the tender and the Packers reach a deal w him during the season. Why can’t/wouldn’t they? IMO thst makes the most sense out of all thr scenarios. IIRC a lot of players sign tenders and extend afterwards.

        Shields eill get done!

        1. I don’t think the Packers are willing to break the bank on Shields quite yet, he’s been up and down, and they haven’t seen consistency from him yet.

          He’s wildly talented/physically gifted. But will the Packers get 2011 Sam Shields, or 2012 Sam Shields, for the duration?

          I don’t see the Packers, and especially don’t see Drew Rosenhaus, inking up a 5 year deal for Shields. Packers will want more proof that Sam is still on the incline and they want him hungry. Rosenhaus will bank on Shields blowing up over the next few seasons, and will want to use Sam’s stellar production as an opportunity to test the wide-open free agency market to court the highest bidders in the league while Sam is still very young and entering his prime.

          Crystal ball says, 3 year deal. But, hey, who knows.

          1. This was tweeted on CheeseheadTV.

            CB Sam Shields from Week 14 on last season: 32 targets, 12 completions allowed, 4 INTs, 7 passes defensed. +14.0 @PFF grade. Overall, Shields finished 2012 as PFF’s No. 6 overall cornerback (over all games).

            Seems to me he is looking like a Tramon Williams at CB, who the Packers are likely to part ways w/ after this year. Shields had a banner year and erased any doubts about himself and became far more physical tackling. I doubt the Packers have any trepidation about signing him long term.

  7. If Shields is associated with that dumbazz Rosenhaus maybe we don’t want him in Green bay anymore. Lets just have a good ole fashioned blanket party for mr. Hoseinass…

    1. That’s completely irrational! You dont a players choice of agents determine if you resign him. God lord that’s about the dumbest thing yet.

  8. Sign him to a 4 year $16mil with $2.0 million signing bonus and base salaries of $500k, $3.5m, $4.5m, $5.5m. If his play is at a high level the $4m average is good, and if not cut him after 1 year and the $2.5m is about what the tender is anyway (with the difference worth it for the 4-year lock if warranted). May not be what he and his agent would like I suppose …

  9. Speak of the devil, the Packers and Rosenhaus met today and Shields signed his 1 year tender. Sounds like they can still work out a long-term deal although not sure if there are any deadlines or restrictions on when that has to be done by.

    This reminds me of when I did the Michael Huff piece and he signed with the Ravens the next day!

      1. Players sign the tenders because they don’t have a choice if no other team offered them a contract.

        Well, they do have a choice, and that would be to not play football at all for a full year, which isn’t much of a choice.

        So, yeah, players who haven’t had outside teams make an offer sign their tenders all the time… It is not indicative of a pending long-term contract (although I’m sure the Packers would like to keep Shields around.)

        1. Not always indicative, but I would say far more often then not they end up inking a long term deal. You get the Jolly situations and occasionally a bad apple, but that’s not Shields. Despite his choice of agents Shields knows the landscape. He signs the tender and will get a long term deal. He’s far too talented to let him leave in FA and his agent won’t prevent it. Packers have handled other situations under Thompson w/ aplumb. They always seem to do the right thing and they will here as well.

  10. The rookies from last year will fill in admirably for shields after this year, anyway. S,S, plays this yr., goes somewhere else and after a 3 yr. deal for Dr. Drew, that teams cuts him after 2 yrs. Shields will be out of the league within 3 yrs. Drew will hire him to be his boot licker.

    1. That’s clearly one on the dumbest comments I’ve ever read on any site. As long as Shields continues to be physical like he was last year, he’ll be in huge demand. Sam has elite speed and excellent cover skills. Going into last season his tackling was the question. He answered those questions. I for one really want Shields signed. The way Crabtree ate up Williams in the playoffs last season, would suggest Shields is quickly becoming the Packers best corner. Personally, I think he’s there. This season will show that Shields has replaced Williams as the #1 corner and unless Williams gets back to 2010 form, he’ll be gone in 2014. Lets hope Ted can work a deal with this egomaniac Rosenhaus, and get Sam locked up. Can’t sport that tattoo in Tampa Sam and removal on something THAT big is painful! Trust that!!

  11. There are suddenly a bunch of people who seem to think Shields is chopped liver.

    Wtf? Last time I checked, there weren’t low 4.3 cb’s with really good to great ball skills growing on trees..

    He might fall to the wayside for lack of desire, but his talent is rare, and that makes him a commodity. I think the Packers will be cautious, but Shields certainly can’t be so easily discounted.

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