After becoming a cap casualty for the Green Bay Packers, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers need to strongly consider making a run at Sam Shields.
Sam Shields saw the field in only one game in 2016 for the Green Bay Packers. After battling with a lingering concussion and never clearing protocol, Shields was released from the team Wednesday to save them his $8-million dollar salary for 2017 – as well as taking on $3.125-million in dead money. Shields wants to continue to play and the Buccaneers should strongly consider allowing him to do so in Tampa.
With issues at cornerback – despite the signing of Brent Grimes and the drafting of Vernon Hargreaves – Shields can provide another strong veteran presence on the defensive side of the ball. Also, keep in mind that Grimes only has one year remaining on his deal with the Bucs and may not be returning in 2018. Shields could be Grimes’ replacement in 2018 and beyond should he decide to move on after two seasons with the Bucs.
One of the biggest knocks on Shields is his injury history. He’s never played a full 16-game season and has suffered multiple concussions as well as ankle, knee, hamstring, and shoulder injuries causing him to miss multiple games over the course of his seven year career.
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It seems extremely likely the Bucs will move on from Alterraun Verner this off-season, leaving the crop of defensive backs somewhat inexperienced and vulnerable. A low risk, one-to-two year “prove it” deal to Shields could pay massive dividends for the team heading into the 2017 season. Having Shields join Grimes and Hargreaves would be a huge upgrade in a pass heavy division with back to back NFC Champions accounting for 25% of the schedule. Not to mention teams like the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, the Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions, and New York Giants all coming up as well.
Shields is a hell of a player when he’s on the field. That phrase makes some people cringe because, as Dirk Koetter says, “the best ability is availability,” which Shields doesn’t always have. However, what he does have is 18 career interceptions, 66 career passes defensed, and 211 career tackles. Throw in a Super Bowl ring and a Pro Bowl and Shields could become one of the top signings for a team this year.
He’s going to have to prove to whatever team brings him in that he can stay on the field and contribute before he gets any kind of big money. The Buccaneers certainly have enough in the bank account to take a calculated risk on a player that can continue to help transform their defense. Bottom line? He’s worth taking a risk on and the Bucs should be the ones to pull the trigger.