GREEN BAY, Wis. — It was a successful few months for the Green Bay Packers’ front office, locking in long-term deals with quarterback Aaron Rodgers and outside linebacker Clay Matthews. But one player whose contract the team hasn’t addressed yet is Sam Shields, and the 25-year-old cornerback let his dissatisfaction be known when he decided not to show up for the Packers’ offseason training activities.
“I wish Sam was here,” coach Mike McCarthy said Tuesday. “He’s not here for his specific reasons that I’m sure if he wants to answer them, he can answer them. It’s about the opportunity to compete and our secondary is very competitive.
“I wish he was here.”
Shields was given a second-round tender as a restricted free agent in March that is worth $2.023 million for the 2013 season.
It may be a difficult battle for Shields to win in contract talks with the Packers. Working in Shields’ favor is that he started eight games last season and intercepted three passes. Since making the team in 2010 as an undrafted free agent, Shields has started a total of 21 games and has nine interceptions while showing improvement each year.
Working against Shields in his negotiations is Green Bay’s deep and talented group of cornerbacks. Tramon Williams is the veteran who’s started all but one game over the past three seasons. Casey Hayward finished third in the Rookie of the Year race last season after ranking fifth in the NFL in interceptions with six. Davon House was arguably the best cornerback in training camp last season before a preseason shoulder injury kept him out two months. The Packers also drafted Micah Hyde in the fifth round last month.
One of Shields’ closest friends on the team, safety Morgan Burnett, is trying to adjust to not having him around.
“It’s different not seeing Sam, because that’s who I’m with all the time,” Burnett said. “It’s different not having Sam here. Hopefully he’ll be here soon and I can have my buddy back.”
In their conversations, Shields never mentioned anything about his contract situation to Burnett.
“When I talk to Sam, we don’t talk about football,” Burnett said. “We talk about how each other’s offseasons have been going, talk about our family; laughing and joking and reminiscing about old times.”
The Packers have around $13 million in cap space for the 2013 season, even after inking Rodgers and Matthews to huge contracts. With the recent exception of wide receiver Greg Jennings, general manager Ted Thompson typically re-signs the team’s own free agents. But Thompson is also the type to rarely overpay.