The Green Bay Packers released cornerback Sam Shields on Wednesday after the seven-year veteran spent nearly the entire 2016 season in the NFL’s concussion protocol.
Shields, 29, suffered a concussion in the season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars and missed the final 15 regular-season games and the team’s three playoff contests. It was Shields’ fifth documented concussion in his NFL career and Packers coach Mike McCarthy said at the postseason news conference last month that Shields still had not cleared concussion protocol.
“I think we can all focus on Sam getting healthy,” McCarthy said on Jan. 26. “Having a chance to visit with Sam in Atlanta briefly, he needs to get healthy for himself and his family. That’s the primary focus.”
Shields, who announced Wednesday morning on Instagram he had been released, had one year and $9 million remaining on a four-year, $39 million contact signed in 2014.
Over the past two years, Shields played in just two of a possible 23 games, including the playoffs.
Shields does not intend to retire and plans to continue his career, according to an ESPN source.
Shields told reporters after the Packers’ 44-21 loss in the NFC Championship Game against the Atlanta Falcons that he still wanted to pursue his career despite concussion symptoms lingering more than four months later.
“Some days it’s tough headaches, some days it’s mild,” Shields said during an interview in Atlanta following the NFC title game. “It varies. I never know. I’m so used to it that it’s just normal. Like I said, each day it’s getting better. I’ll be back.”
Shields, who made three tackles in the season opener on Sept. 11, has 245 tackles and 18 interceptions in parts of seven seasons in Green Bay.
Shields was arrested in Green Bay in October on drug charges. He was eventually charged last month with possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia — both misdemeanors — nearly three months after a police investigation.
Shields’ released came one day after the Packers cut running back James Starks with the non-football injury designation. Starks didn’t play after suffering a concussion in a car accident on Dec. 12.