Out for rest of the sea­son

Fu­ture for Lacy, Shields un­clear

Packer Plus - - Commentary - TOM SILVERSTEIN

Green Bay — It sounded much worse than it was last week when Green Bay Pack­ers coach Mike McCarthy re­vealed that run­ning back Ed­die Lacy and cor­ner­back Sam Shields would not re­turn this sea­son.

In some peo­ple’s minds, one of the two was go­ing to re­cover from long-term in­jury just in time to save the Pack­ers’ sea­son.

The re­al­ity is that it was a long shot and nei­ther the coaches nor the play­ers had given much thought to ei­ther of the two premier per­form­ers re­sum­ing their po­si­tions in the start­ing lineup. They were on in­jured re­serve, which for years sig­ni­fied that a player was out for the sea­son.

But teams now have the abil­ity to bring back one player from in­jured re­serve after eight weeks and the Pack­ers de­cided to use their des­ig­nated-to-re­turn op­tion on rookie cor­ner­back Mak­in­ton Dor­leant, end­ing any op­tion for Lacy or Shields to re­turn this sea­son.

“It’s un­for­tu­nate for Ed­die and it’s un­for­tu­nate for Sam, but based on all the med­i­cal in­for­ma­tion and the con­ver- sa­tions to this point, that’s where we are,” coach Mike McCarthy said.

Lacy had surgery on his left an­kle on Oct. 19, three days after rein­jur­ing it in a 17-carry, 65yard per­for­mance against the Dal­las Cow­boys. As re­cently as two weeks ago, Lacy still had the an­kle ban­daged and was us­ing a knee scooter to get around the fa­cil­ity.

On so­cial me­dia he had ex­pressed hope that he might be able to re­turn this sea­son, but the Pack­ers’ med­i­cal staff would have had to clear him and with just six games left in the reg­u­lar sea­son, they ap­par­ently felt it was a long shot.

Shields has been out since suf­fer­ing a con­cus­sion against the Jack­sonville Jaguars in Week 1, the fifth known con­cus­sion of his ca­reer. The Pack­ers waited un­til Oct. 18 to put Shields on in­jured re­serve, at which time the vet­eran cor­ner said through his agent that he “would like to re­turn to play in eight weeks.”

After eight weeks a player on in­jured re­serve is el­i­gi­ble for the des­ig­nated-to-re­turn op­tion, which in this case would have been Dec. 13. Shields has been at his off-sea­son home in Florida and hasn’t spo­ken pub­licly since the in­jury.

Asked if he knew whether Shields had de­cided never to play again, McCarthy said, “I do not. Re­ally, the con­ver­sa­tion with Sam, I know par­tic­u­larly mine with him is he needs to get healthy for him­self and his fam­ily. That needs to be his fo­cus and it is his fo­cus. That’s what we’re fo­cus­ing on.”

The fu­ture for both Lacy and Shields is un­clear.

Lacy is in the fi­nal year of his con­tract and will be a free agent in March. His hopes of sign­ing a big con­tract may be out of reach given he’s go­ing to have to prove to teams he’s both com­pletely healthy and in shape. It may be eas­ier for the Pack­ers to sign him to a lower-cost, oneyear deal, but Lacy is likely to test the mar­ket first.

Shields is in the third year of a $39 mil­lion deal. He is due $8 mil­lion in base salary, a $500,000 per-game ros­ter bonus and a $500,000 work­out bonus in 2017. The Pack­ers would be able to gain $9 mil­lion in salary-cap space if he re­tires and would carry $3.125 mil­lion in dead money based on the re­main­ing pro-rated por­tion of his $12.5 mil­lion sign­ing bonus.

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