The Green Bay Packers gave cornerback Sam Shields some time to think about free agency. However, it was not very much time. With just over 48 hours before free agency begins, the Packers have decided to bring back their top cover corner. Green Bay has re-signed Shields today to a four-year deal worth $39 million. Shields will be receiving $12.5 million of the contract as a signing bonus. In addition, his deal will be heavily front-loaded. Shields will be making $15 million in the first year of the contract, $6 million in the second, and $9 million in the third. The contract is a definite step up from the $2.023 million he made last year when he played for the restricted free-agent tender.
Shields spent most of last season shadowing the best wide receiver his opponents had to offer. The former undrafted free agent had a career year with four interceptions in just 14 games. Though Shields has not always played cornerback in his career, he lined up mostly as a wide-receiver in college, he has taken his natural speed and developed in to a strong, shutdown, number one corner. At 26, he is one of the best young corners playing the game, and would surely have been a top free agent target for several other teams.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers decided today to cut ties with guard Davin Joseph. Joseph was drafted by the Bucs in 2006 with the twenty-third overall pick. During his career he has made it to the Pro Bowl twice, in 2008 as a substitute, and then again in 2011. Joseph agreed to a seven-year deal worth $53 million in July of 2011 that would have seemingly made him a permanent fixture in Tampa Bay. However, a major knee injury during the 2012 preseason forced him to miss the entire year. He came back in 2013 but never really had his feet under him. His difficult season probably played a large factor in the Bucs deciding to release the veteran guard. He was scheduled to make $6 million this year. By releasing him, Tampa Bay increases the amount of cap space they have to $24 million.
Former Seattle Seahawks defensive end Red Bryant has found a warmer new home. The Super Bowl winner signed a four-year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday. Jaguars’ coach Gus Bradley used to be the defensive coordinator for Seattle, and no doubt is very familiar with the big defensive end.
The Arizona Cardinals solidified their tight end corps on Friday by adding former Viking John Carlson. The Cardinals are taking a risk with the former Notre Dame tight end. He has suffered three concussions in his career, the last forcing him to miss the final three games of the 2013 season. His numbers with Minnesota the last two years were not spectacular, but Arizona is hoping that with proper use the tight end can return to the form he played in while he was a Seahawk. Carlson caught 106 balls during his first two seasons in Seattle, including a team leading nine touchdowns in 2009. The Vikings had hoped for more of the same when they inked him to a deal worth $25 million over five years in 2011, but did not see the production they had paid for and cut him on Wednesday. Carlson is now two years removed from the shoulder injury that forced him to miss the 2011 season. His deal with the Cardinals is worth $4.65 million over two-years.
Carlson was not the only tight end to make the news on Friday. The New York Jets announced that they have extended starting tight end Jeff Cumberland’s contract for three more years. Though Cumberland’s numbers were not stellar in 2013, he did manage to set career highs in both touchdowns (4) and yards (398), despite playing in a lackluster Jets’ offense. His yard per catch average (15.3) demonstrated how effective the tight end could be when he was given the chance.
Commentary by Chris Chisam