Shields, Raji closer to free agency after #Packers decline to use tags. http://t.co/NtfXDORd2eThe reason only four teams used the franchise tag is that the 2014 numbers are crazy. In Shields case, he'd be in line for almost $12 million in 2014, when the reality is that he's worth about $6 million per season. CB Brent Grimes was a lot better than Shields last season, he was ranked by Pro Football Focus as the league's 2nd best CB last season while Shields was ranked 52nd, and Grimes received $8 million per season. Even he wasn't getting the franchise tag.
— Packers News (@PGPackersNews) March 3, 2014
I don't think any team is going to go crazy for a cornerback because there are a lot of good free agents to choose from (Vontae Davis, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Alterraun Verner, to name a few). Shields was ranked much higher by Pro Football Focus in 2012, but that season he also played on fewer snaps (606 in 2012, 900 in 2013) . He might be a player who does better in a rotation, which means he's not a shutdown corner, and he might not even be an every down player. These aren't reasons not to re-sign him, but there reasons why he's not going to get a huge free agent contract.
Tom Silverstein of the Journal Sentinel has NFL sources while I have none, but if Silverstein's hearing that B.J. Raji might be offered a free agent contract worth $9 million a year, then those sources are nuts. Did they watch him last season? He was almost the last rated 3-4 DE according to Pro Football Focus in 2013, and while he was much better in 2012, they rated him as the worst defensive tackle in 2011. There's simply no way he should be taking up 15% of their cap space with a $9 million annual contract. I'm not sure I want him back at any price.
So deciding not to use the franchise tag on either player was a good business decision, and GM Ted Thompson is known for making good business decisions. Declining the franchise tag was just part of the process before they hopefully re-sign Shields.