GREEN BAY, Wis. — This isn’t what Sam Shields wanted. He was looking for a long-term contract with the Green Bay Packers and the money and security that would accompany it.
After negotiations didn’t progress the way that Shields hoped, the 25-year-old cornerback settled on signing the one-year tender offer for $2 million. But he wasn’t necessarily too happy about it.
“I wanted to get paid; it didn’t happen,” Shields said Tuesday after arriving for the Packers’ mandatory minicamp. “But I’m not that guy like, ‘I’m not coming because I didn’t get paid. I need to get paid.’ Business is business.”
Shields was the only player on Green Bay’s roster who chose to stay away from the team’s first two weeks of offseason training activities. Those were voluntary workouts, but Shields’ absence was a clear sign that he was pushing for something more than just the one-year deal on the table.
Shields and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, had contract discussions with general manager Ted Thompson and the Packers’ front office earlier this week. The two sides never ended up getting very close.
“I didn’t get what I wanted,” Shields said. “I was like, ‘It’s not going to go that much farther so I might as well sign the tender and get back.'”
There were several reasons for Shields to rejoin his teammates in Green Bay for minicamp. Under the terms of the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, skipping these mandatory practices is costly for players, starting at the price of a fine exceeding $10,000 per day.
However, there was also a more unexpected reason that motivated Shields to report.
“I didn’t want to be home too long and I was getting aggravated with my family, things like that,” Shields said. “That happens. Things like that happen. Not just the family, everybody around me.”
Shields wouldn’t say what he believes he’s worth. As an undrafted signing of the Packers in 2010, Shields has been making less than $1 million each year for his first three NFL seasons. So, he is getting a sizable salary boost for the 2013 season, even at the $2 million price that Shields was hoping to avoid.
Though it could hurt his leverage against Green Bay in future negotiations by stating it publicly, Shields doesn’t want his next contract to be with another team.
“I want to be Packer,” he said. “I really don’t want to go anywhere else. I’ve been here, I started here and I just want to keep continuing to be with the Packers.”
If a contract extension is not reached in the coming months, Shields would be an unrestricted free agent next offseason. While he’s clearly outperformed the average undrafted player, Shields knows he’ll need to have a productive season in order to convince Thompson that it’d be a wise investment to lock in a multiyear deal.
“If I have a great year this year, it’ll speak for itself right there,” Shields said. “It’s all on me. I just have to go out there, ball out, and do what I’ve been doing. And then, like I said, it speaks for itself.”
Shields had three interceptions in 10 regular season games last season and was one of Green Bay’s best cornerbacks when healthy. But it’s a deep and talented group that he’ll have to compete against to earn significant snaps.
Veteran Tramon Williams has started all but one game over the past three seasons, Casey Hayward finished third in the Rookie of the Year race and Davon House was on the verge of winning a starting job last season before a preseason shoulder injury set him back. The Packers also drafted Micah Hyde in the fifth round and have veteran — and always-impressive practice player — Jarrett Bush in the secondary.
“There’s always competition and that’s what I like; I love competition,” Shields said. “Hopefully I get the starting position. I have to compete. There are more great, young guys that are here. I have to keep competing and keep that position.”
Coach Mike McCarthy expressed some displeasure during OTAs that Shields was not with the rest of the team at that time, saying, “I wish Sam was here” on multiple occasions. Now that Shields is back, McCarthy needs him to catch up on what was missed.
“This is the learning part of the year that’s so important for development of each and every player, and Sam is definitely one of those,” McCarthy said. “You want your players here. There’s a lot of time that’s put in to preparing these practices, preparing the lesson plans and the meeting plans for the players, so it’s a great opportunity.”
Shields wasn’t able to get the Packers to commit to the contract extension he wanted, but he plans to earn it this season.
“I’m happy to be back and be part of the Packers again,” Shields said. “I’m ready to rock and roll.”