Just because a player is paid the big bucks or drafted in the first round doesn't mean that player will do the job.

The Green Bay Packers are betting that cornerback Sam Shields, on whom they lavished a $12.5 million signing bonus in March, won't backslide as safety Morgan Burnett did shortly after being handed an $8.25 million signing bonus last July.

At the same time, the Packers' fingers are crossed that safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, the 21st overall selection, doesn't join Ahmad Carroll, Antuan Edwards, Terrell Buckley and Vinnie Clark as their fifth first-round flop from the secondary in a generation.

Stakes are high. Everyone in the building could see how miserably the unit performed last season.

"Correct," said Joe Whitt, who returns for a sixth season as cornerbacks coach under coach Mike McCarthy and coordinator Dom Capers. "We weren't good."

Shields allowed more passes of 20 yards (10) than anyone in the secondary and didn't tackle well, either. Still, when push came to shove on the eve of free agency, the Packers extended Shields for probably a lot more (four years, $39 million) money than they originally planned.

"Sometimes you have a gun to your head," said a leading executive in personnel for an NFC team that also spent extravagantly in spring to retain a capable but not elite player. "If you don't get your guy, then who?"

After sniffing but not biting in the unrestricted safety group, the Packers tried to fill the void that was free safety in 2013 by drafting Clinton-Dix, their No. 1-rated safety.

Now they can only hope it doesn't take Clinton-Dix until his fourth season to become a top-flight player as it once did free safeties Darren Sharper and Nick Collins.

Statistically, the numbers could hardly have been worse for the Packers secondary.