The Indirect Effect of the Packers/Shields Pact


Many in the industry feel that the Packers overpaid for CB Sam Shields. But there were other factors aside from Shields’ skill set that contributed to Green Bay’s decision.

In Jason’s dissection of the importance of cash spending, he brought up the importance of encompassing an awareness of the financial situations of their 31 competitors.

“If you know the Jets, Jaguars, Raiders, and Colts are in the market for a cornerback it makes more sense to overpay Sam Shields in the short term to make sure you keep him on your team on a contract structure you like than get caught in a bidding war where his money doesn’t fit into your system.”

The Packers, with a lot of cap space, can afford to give Shields this money. They also structured the contract in a way that won’t hinder their future cap scenarios.

But another factor in Green Bay’s decision was that they set market the price for free agent cornerback’s. By “overpaying” Shields (an affordable move for Green Bay ), the value of the markets top cornerback’s—Alterraun Verner, Vontae Davis, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Aqib Talib and Walter Thurmond—all increased. You can make an argument that all five guys I just named are better than Shields (and they’re agents surely will in their negotiations with teams), meaning they’ll now want more money than what Shields got.

You can’t cant understate the leagues unpredictability, as well as the short turn-around time needed to transform from pretender to contender. The NFC West is my favorite example of this—in 2010 the division was won at 7-9; by 2012/2013 it contained football’s two best teams and is the league’s toughest division.

But still, it’s fair to assume that teams like the Falcons, Eagles, Broncos, Bengals and Ravens—all who have a moderate amount of cap space—will fare better in 2014 than the Raiders and Jaguars (I won’t include Cleveland here, who’s just a quarterback away from competing).  It’s also fair to assume that the Packers would rather the top free agents go to a Jacksonville or an Oakland than to a contender.

It just so happens that the Raiders and Jaguars, who could both be in the market for a cornerback (as well as just about every other position) have by far the most 2014 cap space. This means they’d be able to pony up the necessary money to entice the top guys to their respective (unappealing) destinations.

And if the top players at the cornerback position go to a contender, the Packers deal with Shields means that the price these contenders will pay probably went up—in turn decreasing the future spending money of whoever the highest bidder is.

Ultimately, the Packers resigned Shields because they believed in his abilities.  But there were likely multiple factors that impacted the large contract that they handed out.

Andrew Cohen