Packers explore long-term extension with Sam Shields

Harry How

Shields recorded three interceptions in the 2012 regular season and returned one for a touchdown in the divisional round of the playoffs.

The Green Bay Packers have a few young players they would like to lock up long-term and that includes cornerback Sam Shields, as the two sides have already had preliminary discussions about a long-term deal, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.

Shields, 25, was signed by the Packers as an undrafted free agent following the 2010 NFL Draft and quickly earned playing time as the cornerback behind Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams on the depth chart, primarily serving as the team's nickel corner. In 2012, he finished with three interceptions but played behind Williams and rookie Casey Hayward.

Following the 2012 season, Shields was given a second-round tender in restricted free agency, meaning that any interested team would have to sign him to an offer sheet and give the Packers a second-round selection in the 2013 NFL Draft if Green Bay chooses not to match the offer.

The Packers are already talking a long-term deal with quarterback Aaron Rodgers and will look to make re-signing Clay Matthews a priority as well. In the latest estimate from the NFL Players Association, the Packers have over $17 million in cap space, the sixth-most in the NFL.

For a fourth consecutive season, the Packers earned a spot in the postseason in 2012, but were defeated in the divisional round by the eventual-NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers. The Packers pass defense finished No. 11 in the NFL in passing yards allowed.

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