Like most teams, the Packers would prefer to do a long-term deal rather than implementing the franchise tag, which for cornerbacks this year is likely to be more than $11 million.
Although they have the salary-cap room to absorb it, they would rather not use nearly half of their existing salary-cap space for 2014 on one player. The structure of a long-term deal with Shields would be such that it would allow them to assign him a much lower salary-cap figure for this season.
However, this has been and could continue to be a prolonged negotiation with Shields’ agent, Drew Rosenhaus. Last June, Rosenhaus flew to Green Bay for a face-to-face meeting with the Packers in an effort to get Shields -- then a restricted free agent who had been tendered at $2.023 million -- a long-term deal.
That didn’t happen, and Shields played in 2013 for the tender. He had his best season, further strengthening his negotiating power.
The fact that Shields entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent who received a signing bonus of just $7,500 makes this contract even more important for him because it’s his first -- and probably best -- shot at a blockbuster payday.
The Packers would like to retain Shields, and negotiations have been ongoing, but they might not be willing to use the tag to do it. Rosenhaus is expected to meet with the Packers face to face later this week at the NFL combine in Indianapolis.
If tight end Jermichael Finley weren't coming off a neck injury that required fusion surgery, then he could be a candidate for the tag like he was two years ago before he signed a $14 million contract. Now, with his playing career up in the air, there’s no chance the Packers will tag him.