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With respect to the #9 overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, B.J. Raji, Shields is the Packers #1 free agent they have to bring back.
DON'T FORGET ABOUT DuJuan HARRIS
MICAH HYDEwas fantastic as a rookie, especially for being a 5th round pick. He was, immediately, the MOST PHYSICAL of ANY Packers defensive back. The other guys look like they prefer not to have to tackle. Hyde enjoys crunching people.
But he also was a fantastic kick returner, and he made some plays as a Defensive Back. Of course, it's the play he ALMOST made that he, and Packer fans, remember the most. But had that been Shields, or 2012 Defensive Rookie of the Year CASEY HAYWARD, who knows. Also, Hyde is a perfect combination of skills and attitude and smarts to be moved over to STARTING SAFETY along side (or replacing) Morgan BURNETT.
Harris was a surprise revelation coming down the stretch in 2012. He ran great in the playoff games against Minnesota and San Francisco.
He, in my opinion, looked like a fresher version of Ray Rice (minus the slugging of females in elevators).
Even after drafting Eddie Lacy in the 2013 Draft, Coach McCarthy (and I) expected some more good things from the compact runner. But a knee ultimately sidelined him for the season before it began.
James Starks had a very good year as the Packers #2 RB, but he's a free agent now.
Jonathan Franklin also showed some flashes of greatness in his one game against the Bengals where he went over 100 yards and generally looked like a feature back.
If DuJuan can be healthy, fans are going to remember why he was able to inspire McCarthy to pencil him in as the #1 RB entering the 2013 season, even with Lacy on board.
These two will be a great compliment to each other as they are different type of players. Both are effective however.
Ted Thompson has made some poor draft picks at the cornerback position in his tenure as Packers GM.
But he's made two fantastic undrafted free agent signings at the position, and without them, this team would never have won that Super Bowl in the 2010 season.
Both Tramon Williams and Sam Shields, the current two starters and the two guys who had key interceptions that playoff run, were guys who went undrafted but whom Thompson brought in.
Shields has played for four seasons on that cheap contract, a bargain for the Packers. He's clearly out-performed his contract. But now his lottery is coming, well-deserved.
WIth his agent being Drew Rosenhaus, he's definitely going to command a huge contract.
Thompson likes to keep his own players and he will try hard to keep Sam. But I suspect there will be one team out there who blows Thompson's offer out of the water and overpays for Sam. Thompson is not a guy who will go much past his number, so I fear the Packers are going to lose their best CB and most important free agent.
Let's hope I am wrong because he has the ball skills that are extremely rare at that position. He'd be a first round pick if in this draft.