The Green Bay Packers have fulfilled one of their top offseason priorities, re-signing cornerback Sam Shields to a four-year deal worth $39 million. The signing was first reported by Pro Football Talk and verified by NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
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Since arriving in the league as a free agent, Shields has been one of the NFL's most cost-efficient defenders. Playing most of his career on a minimum salary, the speedy cornerback has taken over as a valuable starter for Green Bay. His rookie contract expired in March, at which point the Packers finally gave him the big payday he was looking for.
The Packers secondary struggled to come up with turnovers in 2013 -- their 11 interceptions were fifth-worst in the league. Four of those came from Shields, who provided the only consistent play of the group. He has proven himself as a ball hawk, ranking 13th in the league with 13 picks since 2010.
Shields didn't have a particularly strong season overall. Pro Football Focus rated him as the No. 52 corner in the league for 2013. He did do a good job limiting receivers, though. Only 50 percent of passes thrown into his coverage were completed, the eighth-best mark in the NFL.
An injury during the Packers' playoff loss to San Francisco provided a brief scare, but what was originally feared to be an MCL sprain turned out to be a simple bone bruise.
Shields went undrafted out of Miami in 2010, signing with the Packers for a minimum contract and a $7,500 bonus. When Charles Woodson departed after the 2012 season, Shields started lobbying for a contract extension to pay him like the starter he had become. The two sides couldn't find even footing last offseason, and rumors of a holdout surfaced at one point. As a restricted free agent, Shields eventually signed a second-round tender that paid him $2.02 million for the 2013 season.
Shields gets a hefty pay raise with his new deal, and this latest signing could end up setting the market for the position. This year's cornerback class runs deep with talented players like Aqib Talib, Alterraun Verner, Vontae Davis and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Their agents will no doubt use Shields' contract as a precedent for future negotiations with other teams.