The Vikings’ neighbors to the east, the Green Bay Packers, will have several big calls to make on free agents this offseason. One of their biggest decisions will involve cornerback Sam Shields.
Shields had problems with consistency last year, but according to PFF he ended up allowing just a 50% completion rate with 12 passes defensed and only two penalties. He finished the season with a team high four interceptions despite missing time with injury.
Shields came up particularly big during the Packers’ stretch run, doing an especially great job on Dez Bryant in Green Bay’s Week 15 game against Dallas. He suffered an injury early in Green Bay’s playoff game against San Francisco but fortunately it was only a bone bruise and shouldn’t affect him in the future.
A team with as many defensive issues as the Packers would certainly love to retain a player of Shields’ ability, but as we know, Ted Thompson doesn’t like to spend money. The Packers also happen to be fairly deep at cornerback with guys like Tramon Williams, Casey Hayward and Micah Hyde.
The Packers have the option of franchise tagging Shields, but that seems like long shot when you take everything into consideration. All signs point to Sam Shields hitting the market.
Shields could be an attractive option for the Vikings in their quest to shore up their secondary. It’s a very deep free agent field highlighted by big names Alterraun Verner, Aqib Talib, Vontae Davis and Brent Grimes. A guy like Shields, who is probably the fourth or fifth best free agent corner, could be a steal value-wise.
At 26, Shields is right in the preferred Rick Spielman age range. He was an undrafted free agent coming into the league and has worked hard and developed himself into an above-average NFL corner. He seems like exactly the kind of scrappy, underdog guy Mike Zimmer tends to latch onto.
If the Vikes elect to pass on the higher priced guys like Verner or Talib, they could do a lot worse than Sam Shields. Unlike past instances when the Vikings have grabbed aging Packers from the Green Bay trash heap, this would be a case of the Vikes grabbing a Packer player just as he’s entering his prime.
Packer fans would pretend not to be bothered, but losing Shields to the Vikes would legitimately sting.