Well, believe it.
The Rams may have lucked out when they tried out and signed former Green Bay Packers CB Sam Shields. Shields is an eight-year veteran who has amassed over 240 tackles, 66 pass deflections, and 18 interceptions. And yes, he’s also a Super Bowl champion, and former pro bowler in 2014.
Why was Shields available and for so cheap?
His concussion history.
Shields has a lengthy concussion history that ultimately forced him to sit out 15 games in 2016. He was released by the Packers in 2017 and remained unsigned until the Rams came knocking this offseason, where they believed he was healthy enough to make a return to the field.
Shields is a former wide receiver at Miami, and it shows in his ability to cover receivers effectively and locate the ball while high pointing it.
As I mentioned in my roster preview for CB Troy Hill, the starting spots are simply unavailable for anyone to steal. CB Marcus Peters and CB Aqib Talib were both traded for in the offseason, and both will comfortably remain in their starting spots. The nickel cornerback spot will also be occupied by CB Nickell Robey-Coleman who the Rams re-signed just after free agency opened to a three-year deal.
Shields could be next in line for playing time though, with his versatility to play both inside and outside at CB. He’ll likely battle with Hill for whatever playing time remains in the dime CB role as well as CB Kevin Peterson (roster preview) and Dominique Hatfield (roster preview).
This is more difficult to project as we simply don’t know what condition Shields is in. As an optimist, I’d like to think Shields could replicate his former play and be quite productive on the field, but he also hasn’t played football in two years. That the Rams signed him suggested he’s been cleared to some degree by trainers.
But in 2018, it’s a bit of a stretch to start from a place of assumption that a guy who retired due to concussions can make it back this quickly.
Chances of Making Final Roster (7.5/10)
If it weren’t for the concussion history, this number would be higher. The potential for a serious injury as well as the end of a career will keep it at a 7.5.