Out for rest of the season
Future for Lacy, Shields unclear
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.