What Happens to Sam Shields Now?

Cornerback Sam Shields has been battling concussion symptoms since Week 1 and said recently they’re not letting up. He counts for $12.125 million against the cap next year. Both Shields and the Packers have significant decisions to make.

Shields has a history of concussions, and if he’s still facing symptoms now, there isn’t a lot of reason to think that he won’t continue to have issues for some time to come. The best move for his health could be retirement.

His close friend Micah Hyde agrees, telling ESPN’s Rob Demovsky that he wouldn’t count on retirement, "but if I was in his shoes, I would definitely think about the return and whether I would want to or not because the number of concussions he's had. That's serious."

For his part, Shields wants to play. “I’m thinking it’s not over,” he told Jason Wilde after the Packers’ loss to Atlanta in the NFC Championship. “I just love the game, man, and I feel that I can get back out there and play.”

The Packers, meanwhile, have already dealt with similar situations in Nick Collins, Jermichael Finley, and Sean Richardson. Those three faced neck injuries, but Shields’ predicament isn’t that different. Given what we know about head injuries and how much the Packers could face in cap issues if Shields tries to come back and can’t play, the team could choose to move on sooner rather than later.

Regardless of his health, Shields could be a cap casualty. Releasing him would save the Packers $9 million in cap space, and they could be ready to try to reduce Shields’ cap figure even if he does return. The team has gone to battle for less.

Finally, the Packers may also have to consider a possible suspension when evaluating Shields’ future. Shields is facing two charges for a drug-related arrest in October, and depending on where Shields currently falls in the NFL’s drug program, he could be missing some games next season. The Packers will have to weigh his health, financial impact, and legal standing before making an ultimate decision on his future with the team.