Teeing off with Trent

With or without Shields and Raji life will go on


Story by Trent Tetzlaff, Staff Writer

“Dude, did you see Sam Shields is testing free agency!?” This was the number one phrase I heard from my fellow Packer backers the past few weeks, and honestly it’s a miracle the Packers finally got a deal done with him.

The free agency signing period is upon us NFL fans and yes, as I mentioned, cornerback Sam Shields got top dollar from the Packers. Big whoop, get over it. The Packers have bigger problems to solve and they involve the safety position, defensive line and tight end. Not defensive back.

Casey Hayward, Tramon Williams and Micah Hyde are just a few names of defensive backs on the Packers current roster that have played exceptionally well while wearing green and gold, and will only get better. Meanwhile Sam Shields is a big name, an exceptional athlete, and can be a playmaking defensive back when he chooses to be. However, inconsistent play and injuries have plagued his career and brought down the team at important times.

I’m sure you get the drill by now; I’m not totally sold on giving Shields a big chunk of money when he has nothing to show for himself besides injuries and interceptions from Tony Romo, which are a dime a dozen.

Bj Raji, an imposing 28- year-old, 330 pound nose tackle, however, is worthy of a contract extension from the green and gold. But if he doesn’t receive this contract, it’s not a big deal either. Raji had a down year last season, not generating enough of a push on a normally stout Packers defensive line to rush the quarterback or get to the running backs in the backfield, frustrating Packer fans.

But, in my mind, Raji just had an off year. Look back at his past seasons, Raji was a presence especially on the run to the Super Bowl. His stats may not show up in the papers, but over the past few years he has been the reason that the Packers run defense only bent at times and didn’t completely break.

As we await more signings and moves in the free agency period we will see what direction the Packers decide to go. They could look to the market for help at the tight end position in former Wisconsin Badger Garrett Graham, or former Lion Brandon Pettigrew. However, odds are the Packers will look to the draft to fill the position.

As I mentioned earlier, the Packers do need some help at the safety position. Morgan Burnett has shown he can be a solid safety in the league, as long as he has a playmaker next to him which had been Nick Collins prior to his serious injury. Look for the Packers to make a splash in free agency or in the draft to pick up a safety to solidify the back end of the defense. A name that has been being tossed around quite a bit is Ha’Sean “Ha Ha” Clinton-Dix, a playmaker out of the University of Alabama.

It’s truly a mystery as to what further moves the Packers may make this offseason in order to patch up the holes that were shown this past season. You may see Ted Thompson go out and get a few solid veterans like he did in 2006, or you may see the side of him that looks to the draft to bolster the squad.

It’s an exciting time for Packer fans as we speculate as to what the team will do, but in reality all we can do is sit, wait and hope for the best.