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Tough Decision Lies For The Packers About CB Sam Shields

The Packers will have to decide whether to use the top or middle tender offer to cornerback Sam Shields  who will be a restricted free agent, Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports .

The highest tender sets compensation at a first-round pick, the middle tender sets it at a second-round pick and the low tender sets it at the round in which the player was drafted. In any of the three cases, the original team has the right to match any offer made to its restricted free agent.

The difficult part for general manager Ted Thompson is that both Shields was not drafted, so if the low tender is placed onhim, there would be no compensation awarded if the Packers didn’t match the offer.

Shields took his game to a starter’s level and anyone who saw him pick off San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick and return it for a touchdown in the Packers’ divisional playoff loss knows he’s for real. One element of the game the 5-11, 184-pound Shields improved on the most was his tackling, something his fellow starter, Tramon Williams, did not do well at last year.

The difficult part about setting the compensation at a first-round pick: It requires a one-year offer of $2,879,000. For Shields, it would mean an increase in salary of more than $2.3 million from 2012.

If the Packers use the second-round tender, his salary would be $2,023,000, which is an increase of roughly $1.45 million. The lowest tender, which would present a huge risk if given to Shields, carries a one-year salary of $1,323,000.

Two NFL personnel directors and two agents with Packers clients all said they thought Shields was deserving of a second-round tender. The fact that not a single restricted free agent has changed teams since 2008 and none has signed an offer sheet since ’09 signifies how little restricted free agency is used.

In most cases, teams submit offers to lesser-known players, hoping to get a bargain. The last Packer to sign a tender offer was cornerback Jarrett Bush in 2009. The Packers ended up matching it.

“(Shields is a) very good role player as a third corner, but he is small and more than likely it’s safe to assume he will have some injuries because of the lack of size,” one personnel director said. “This is a tough one that I’m glad we don’t have to ponder this year.

“I am guessing they will do the two and will always have the (match) if someone does offer and they want to keep him.”

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