The Green Bay Packers defense took a big step in the right direction on Saturday in resigning the number five cornerback available on the free agent market this offseason. Shields, 26, has played all four of his seasons for the Green Bay Packers, signed as an undrafted free agent in 2010. Formerly a wide receiver at the University of Miami, Shields converted to cornerback in his senior year.
Whether Sam Shields deserved the four-year, $39 million deal given to him by the Green Bay Packers remains to be seen. Shields has vastly improved each season, getting a career high in tackles last season with 61 and tying his career high with four interceptions. He was also often tapped for covering the Green Bay Packers opponent’s best receivers. But for a team that finished the season 8-7-1, the question has to be asked. What else does the Green Bay Packers defense need to do to improve?
The Green Bay defense finished 24th and 25th respectively for opponents passing yards per game and rushing yards per game. They were exposed by the San Francisco 49ers in the first round of the playoffs, when Colin Kaepernick ran all over the Packers for 98 yards. While the Green Bay Packers defense was depleted by injuries, depth is an important indicator of strength. With a healthy Aaron Rodgers and emerging Eddie Lacy, the offense puts the team in a great position to win every game.
Clay Matthews and Sam Shields are now the two highest paid players on the Green Bay Packers defense, trailing only Aaron Rogers overall. With a solid linebacking core and a secondary full of potential with Shields and Tramon Williams, the real questions come on the defensive line. B.J. Raji was moved to defensive end, playing out of position and slowing down Dom Capers’ 3-4 scheme. It is rumored that the Green Bay Packers defense is interested in signing Oakland Raiders free agent Lamarr Houston or Baltimore Ravens defensive end Arthur Jones. Either player would be a speedy upgrade over the slow pass rush the Packers trotted out last season.
If the Green Bay Packers manage to bring in one (or both) of those players, they will be heavy favorites to win the NFC North. Solidifying the defensive end position is the key to stopping speedy, innovative quarterbacks like Kaepernick and Russell Wilson. And of course, staying healthy. With Detroit in perpetual underperformance and a weakening Chicago Bears team, the Packers are in position to make a playoff run again this year.
But it remains to be seen if they can deliver one or two more players besides Sam Shields to help out the Green Bay Packers defense.
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