GREEN BAY, Wis. – We’re in the second week of our position-by-position look at what the Green Bay Packers have and what they need.
We can revisit this process before the draft based on what -- if anything -- general manager Ted Thompson does in free agency.
Next up, cornerbacks.
2014 free agents: Sam Shields.
The good: Shields had his best season and began to emerge as a player that defensive coordinator Dom Capers could match one-on-one against an opponent’s top receiver. On the other side, 30-year-old Tramon Williams overcame a slow start and over the second half of the season played perhaps as well as he did during his career-best season of 2010. Shields (four interceptions) and Williams (three interceptions) combined for all but four of the Packers’ interceptions. Rookie fifth-round pick Micah Hyde spent most of the season playing the nickel position and held up well. He’s a sure-handed tackler who makes up for whatever speed he lacks by understanding positioning and coverage angles. Veteran Jarrett Bush, who has struggled in coverage at times during his career, played well in the dime position late in the season and remained a key special teams player.
The bad: Casey Hayward, who led all NFL rookies with six interceptions in 2012, played in only three games because of a recurring hamstring injury, and his playmaking ability was greatly missed. The Packers’ 11 interceptions was their lowest total since 2005 (when they had 10). Davon House was in and out of the lineup because of his inconsistent play.
The money: Midway through the season, it looked like a good bet that Williams wouldn’t be back at his 2014 pay rate of $7.5 million (including a $6.9 million base salary), but his performance over the second half of the season might have given him more leverage if the Packers ask him to take a pay cut. However, if the Packers are going to keep Shields, it will cost them at least as much as per year as Williams is scheduled to make this coming season.
Draft priority: It all depends on what happens with Shields. If Thompson retains him, then this position won’t be high on the list of needs.