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My inbox is insane; just spend, baby

Posted Mar 12, 2014

When will the Packers become active in free currency?

Jake from Muncie, IN

Assuming there are no steals in the draft, who should our backup QB be, Flynn or Tolzien?

I’d like to see the Packers re-sign Matt Flynn, continue the development of Scott Tolzien and also draft a developmental quarterback. I never said there are no steals at quarterback in this draft. In fact, I think there are steals at quarterback in this draft. It’s a deep class. I just don’t like it at the top.

Matt from Bremerton, WA

So, you give a guy a $10 million signing bonus on a four-year contract. That money is up front/guaranteed, but only $2.5 million of it hits this year’s cap. If he’s cut after one year, is there a $2.5 million hit for the remaining three years still?

Depending on when you cut him, all of the remaining proration of his signing bonus either accelerates into the current year, or what’s in the year stays in the year and everything else goes into the next year.

Hippolyte from Evian, France

I just saw Sam Shields at the store. He was buying khakis.

Khakis during the day and silk pajamas at night. My kind of guy.

J.C. Tretter

Adam from Madison, WI

Were the Packers able to see enough of JC Tretter to decide their center position?

I think they believe Tretter can be their center of the future, and I believe they have other plans for the position, too. We won’t fully know what those plans are until free agency and the draft are over. It’s the stealth that drives fans crazy. If they knew what the team’s plans are, they wouldn’t worry as much. Folks, don’t worry. Trust the men who are responsible for these things. They know what they’re doing.

Sam from Nashville, TN

Why is Shields’ contract structured to push out more cap money into the later years? Couldn’t some of the money used for the signing bonus be moved over to roster bonus for the first year?

The contract is structured to protect the team’s future caps and limit the potential for lost “real money.” Here’s how that’s been accomplished: By spiking Shields’ salary to $8 million in 2016, Shields would largely be a wash on the ’16 cap if injury or performance caused the Packers to want to get out of the contract. The spike in Shields’ salary eats up the remaining signing bonus proration. That spike in salary serves as an alarm for revisiting this contract. Was it a good deal? Is it still a good deal? Does it need to be extended, restructured? In other words, by loading the back end in salary, the Packers are, in effect, prepaying on their 2015 and ’16 caps, and they’re also forcing themselves to reevaluate the contract. I didn’t need to look at the way the contract was structured to know this is what the Packers would do. If you front-load it, you protect the cap but you’re investing more “real money” into the deal at an early stage. By the way, the fact that Shields’ contract wasn’t front-loaded would suggest to me the team is saving cap room for this year with the idea of doing something with it. What? We’ll find out.

Chance from Beloit, WI

Vic, what do you think about picking up Justin Tuck for the right price? Say, $3.8 million for a year or two?

There are no bargains in the first week of free currency.

Frank from Superior, WI

Vic, you tell me which teams are hearing the whistle now.

It’s over in Denver. The train hit them. The problems in Pittsburgh are nearing an end. The Steelers have done a nice job of blending cuts with cap savings (LaMarr Woodley), restructuring sensibly and negotiating salaries down (Ike Taylor from $7 million to $2.75 million). The Steelers should be fully healed by next year at this time. Dallas has miles to go. New Orleans is on the tracks and starting to run. The one that’s starting to pique my interest is Baltimore. I have long considered the Ravens to be the masters of personnel and salary cap management, but they’ve spent wildly the past two years. I need to study on them. There are others that bear watching.

Bob from Oosterhout, The Netherlands

Are there any players signed yesterday that would be a good fit for the Packers for that price?

No, everybody overpaid, but somebody will get lucky. Do you want to gamble that you’ll be the lucky one? Or do you want to join the others crying in their beer with regret when the season is over and they see what a mess they’ve created?

Mez from Janesville, WI

Not surprisingly, some big money got thrown around yesterday. I know you’re not a fan of free agency, Vic, but apparently a fair number of general managers feel they find day one value. Are they missing the big picture or does signing a big-money free agent somehow fit their overall plan?

Maybe their plan is all-or-nothing now. Do you want that plan for the Packers?

Tim from Marshall, MI

Vic, I don’t get how Denver can afford to go after these high-profile free agents while we are struggling just to sign Sam Shields and keep our center.

They pushed it out. You can continue to do that until you run out of years. I don’t have the structures, yet, on their new acquisitions – check back tomorrow – but they likely backloaded the contracts and guaranteed the money. I’m not sure it’s the wrong thing for them to do. They were already on death row, so why not commit another crime? What are they gonna do, kill you twice?

Rob from Delavan, WI

Vic, with just over $2 million in cap space, the Saints managed to sign Byrd to a contract that manages to average $9 million a year. I can hear the whistle blowing. Do they just not care? This is insane.

Again, check back tomorrow for the structure, but what I know is the Saints guaranteed $28 million and Jairus Byrd gave the Saints six years to eat that $28 million. He better be a player and he better not get hurt. That’s the name of that tune.

Jason from Dillsburg, PA

Are the Broncos loading up for one more run, and is there even a slight chance it pays off, given the weak AFC?

Yeah, I guess there’s a chance it could work, but they’re gonna have to fill their Gatorade bucket with Geritol.

Jeremiah from Johannesburg, South Africa

Vic, I have seen it used a number of times this offseason that a team designated a player as a post-June-1 cut. What does this mean, and what is the significance of this designation?

Waiting to cut a player until June 1 is what a team does to lessen his cap hit. If you cut him before June 1, all of his remaining proration accelerates into the current year. If you cut him after June 1, everything in the year stays in the year and everything else goes into the next year. In my opinion, all it does is damage another cap.

Max from Lincoln, RI

Vic, I am not sure why the Packers did absolutely nothing this first day while all of the other teams signed like crazy. Now big-named people like Jairus Byrd are gone. Can you clarify why?

The Packers get it.

Nick from Lake Mary, FL

Here we go again, not making any moves in free agency, letting big names go to other teams. Why doesn’t Ted Thompson ever go after the top dogs? It’s so frustrating as a Packers fan.

Take care of your frustration; Thompson will take care of the roster. Seriously, there needs to be a bond of trust between the team and its fans that the team is doing what’s best for the team. Who would you have had them sign last year that would’ve made the Packers a better team? Should they have signed Steven Jackson and not drafted Eddie Lacy? How would you feel now? I looked at last year’s NFL draft. It was not good. Very few teams got impact from their first-round pick. Based on impact, Lacy should’ve been the first pick of the draft, but the Packers traded back to get him. The first two picks of the draft are left tackles that played very little for their teams, but the Packers found a left tackle in the fourth round that became a 16-game starter. In what I believe was a bad draft, the Packers found star-quality players and depth. Nick, sometimes the whining and crying wears me out.

Dean from Peoria, AZ

OK, so Byrd is gone, Houston is gone, Jones is gone. Houston and Jones were the ones the Packers we’re supposed to be high on and they didn’t seem to even be in the mix. It seems the Packers are right where they are every year, waiting for the scraps to fall. It was reported the Packers we’re supposed to be big into free agency this year. I guess our defense is so good they don’t need any experienced help.

Byrd got $28 million guaranteed, Lamarr Houston got $14.9 million guaranteed and Arthur Jones got $10 million guaranteed. I can’t justify paying that kind of money for any of those guys. Jones didn’t become a starter until this past season. I’m not sure what he did to become the next Joe Greene but, again, I consider the Ravens to be the masters of personnel, and if they’re willing to let a guy go, it sends a signal to me that I can probably find the same guy in the draft for a lot less money. As I’ve written, somebody is going to get lucky. A few of these guys will play up to the level of their contracts, but the majority of them won’t. Let’s make sure we don’t just focus on the exceptions.

George from Mount Horeb, WI

Talib signs with the Broncos. How can they fit so many free agents, including Manning from last year, under their cap? Are they seriously mortgaging their future?

They had already mortgaged their future. Now they’re mortgaging somebody else’s future.

Kelvin from Warwick, UK

There are no bargains in free agency, however, do any of yesterday’s moves stand out as decent business by teams?

The least pricey of the signings – Arthur Jones, for example – are the only ones that have a chance of being good business decisions. The pricey guys can’t possibly play to the level of their contracts.

Darrelle Revis

Matt from Watertown, CT

Vic, the first day of free agency flustered me in the sense that the Packers, with almost $29 million in cap space, couldn’t shed some of that out to sign an elite free agent. With so many holes on this defense and a dwindling period of Rodgers’ prime, who do you see the Packers pursuing in the following days of free agency?

They’ll stick to their value line. As the market cools off, those in the market will start moving toward the Packers’ value line and that’s when I would expect them to become active. The first-day insanity is over. The market could start to cool a little today, depending on what happens with Darrelle Revis. He’s the guy that’s going to set the market for what’s left in it. He’s the potential free agent that interests me because there are some eerie similarities to Charles Woodson. Revis is 28 and coming off an ACL. Woodson was 29 and coming off a broken leg. Today, in my opinion, is all about Revis. Is he the next Woodson?


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