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You are No. 1

Posted Mar 7, 2012


Jeff from Frenchtown, NJ

Franchise tag? Really? Five kickers and a punter? Sign some football players. Sorry, just had to vent. Bad day at work.

Kickers and punters aren’t the positions the framers of the franchise tag had in mind when they created it. Clearly, the franchise tag is making free agency less relevant than it otherwise would be.

Ryan from Fredericton, NB

Vic, can you give me a modern example of a team that paid a first-round pick for an RFA? Was it worth the price?

Thanks for a great question. The answer to it is Curtis Martin, who was an RFA following the 1997 season. The Patriots tendered Martin at the first- and third-round level; that level no longer exists. The Jets signed Martin to an offer sheet, the Patriots declined to match, the Jets sent first- and third-round picks to the Patriots and Martin went on to become, arguably, the greatest player in Jets history. The picks? The Patriots used them to select running back Robert Edwards and fullback Chris Floyd. Edwards was a rookie star and allowed a seamless transition from Martin, but Edwards blew out his knee in a beach football game at the Pro Bowl and never played again.

Justin from St. Augustine, FL

With the release of Matt Flynn, what would be the highest compensatory pick we could receive?

Compensatory picks begin at the bottom of the third round.

Sean from Ridgefield, CT

Which do NFL scouts take more seriously, the combine or pro-day workouts?

The combine is more revealing because that’s where the “scouts” get to look inside the prospects’ knees and hips and necks. That’s where the medical examinations are conducted. The pro-day workouts are beneficial in that they can confirm or contest a player’s combine measurables. If a guy runs a 4.5 at the combine and a 4.45 at his pro day, then you’ve pretty good idea of what his true speed is. If he ran 4.6 at the combine and 4.4 at his pro day, then you need to do more work on him, and if you’re really interested in him, you’ll request that he run again at a personal workout. The combine and the pro days each have their significance, but the combine’s unique importance is the medical examinations it allows. Remember Michael Crabtree?

Josh from Lombard, IL

What are the chances Graham Harrell becomes the next Matt Flynn?

Why not? Maybe he’ll become the next esteemed graduate of the Mike McCarthy school of quarterbacking.

Scott from Appleton, WI

What kind of player was Rocky Bleier? I went to the same high school as he did (though decades later) and in our trophy case is his bronzed shoe.

When he returned from Vietnam with a good chunk of the back of one leg missing, no one expected him to ever play another down. He limped through a 40. Nobody worked harder to become a champion. His career blossomed in 1974, when he was inserted into the backfield to be Franco Harris’ blocker in a split-backs formation in which the halfback was the blocker and the fullback was the feature runner. Two years later, Rocky ran for a thousand yards. He always joked about dreaming of breaking loose on a long run and feeling the wind in his hair – he didn’t have much speed or hair – and then it happened; he went 70 yards for a touchdown. Appleton has a true hero, as a patriot and as a football player, in Rocky Bleier.

Chad from Middleton, WI

What happens with Donald Driver?

I think he’s going to win. Hey, he’s on the show for the same reason Hines Ward was on the show: Big fan base means big ratings, right? It also means a lot of votes. With all of the Packers fans that are going to watch that show and vote for Donald, he could probably step on his partner’s head and still win.

Dave from Green Bay, WI

Could the Packers still sign Matt Flynn to a one-year contract and then trade him to someone like Miami, or is it too late?

No, they could do it, but why would you want to do it? It would certainly make Flynn attractive to a team that would like to sign him, because all of his signing bonus amortization would have to stay on the Packers’ salary cap, which means the team trading for him would only have to claim his salary on their cap, but the Packers’ cap would take a major hit in 2012 because all of that amortization would come into the current year, and is a high draft pick really worth all of the money you’d have to pay Flynn and have wasted when you trade him? If it got the Packers a first-round pick, they’d have to pay the pick a lot of money, too. Talk about ruining your cap. Hey, it is what it is. In the free agency era, you have to be willing to let guys go, accept your compensatory pick as reward for your developmental efforts, and then go develop somebody else.

Bob from Marion, IA

Put your human resources hat on for a minute, please, and respond to how professional sports (not just the NFL) gets away with age discrimination. I am referring to letting a player go because he's too old or not keeping a player because you’re not sure how he'll come back from a recent injury. I am focusing on players who can perform the essential duties and responsibilities of their job/position; not the guys who cannot pass the physical.

It’s a young man’s game, a principle of football with which the players obviously agree because they approved and signed the CBA that supports the system that rewards youth and penalizes age.

Brett from Janesville, WI

Who are some backs that should be around in the later rounds that fit the scatback mold?

Chris Rainey is your guy.

Chris from Middletown, CT

I keep reading all of these arguments about run vs. pass and offense vs. defense in today's game, and I can't help but wonder if the real argument should be about balance and matchups instead. Certainly, the rules of today's game favor the offense, and especially the passing offense, because that's what sparks interest in the casual fan. But it seems to me the most successful teams are the ones that have the best balance.

The Giants were fifth in passing and 32nd in rushing; the Patriots were second in passing and 20th in rushing. You are what your passing game is.

Mark from Stewartville, MN

Vic, what do you think of the concessions at NFL games? Do you have time to stop at a concession stand before, during or after a game? Have concessions changed much over the years? Do the teams get a large percentage of the profits from the sale of concessions?

I can’t remember the last time I bought something at a concession stand, but I know it was when I was a kid going to games, where about all you could buy was a hot dog, peanuts, popcorn or a soft drink. If you bought a hot dog, you had a big decision to make: mustard or no mustard. I can remember my out-of-town cousin asking for ketchup and the vendor looking at him as though he was from Mars. These days, during my walk from the press box to the pregame radio show in the Atrium, I see fans eating everything from brats to chateaubriand. Yeah, concessions have certainly changed. Why? Because it’s a major revenue stream for teams and the more attractive the menu, the more likely it is fans will buy.

Byron from Girard, OH

Instead of slapping the franchise tag on Flynn, why didn't the Packers offer him a one-year deal – say for around $5 million – then use him as trade bait?

Because Flynn’s agent would’ve kidnapped him and held him hostage until free agency began. Byron, Flynn’s going to break the bank. I think he might get more than Mario Williams.

Dylan from Arcata, CA

If the Steelers were to match an offer for Mike Wallace, could the team that offered the original contract respond with a new contract worth more?

No, you get one chance, so make sure you have the contract structured so the player’s original team can’t match it. If you’re looking for a potential suitor, I think the Patriots are it. They have two first-round picks and their pick is at the bottom of the first round. Wallace would certainly be worth the pick. Imagine how he and Wes Welker would complement each other; over the top and underneath. Tom Brady would become even more unstoppable.

Damone from San Jose, CA

Packers fans know what Colts fans are going through; the only thing is we already had Rodgers. Now that it’s certain legends are no longer safe to retire with one team, at what point does Tom Brady come face to face with this treatment?

Legends have never been safe to finish with the same team. Johnny Unitas finished with the Chargers. I covered his last game. Seeing him with lightning bolts on his shoulders made me ill. Joe Namath finished with the Rams; Joe Montana with the Chiefs. I could go on and on; this isn’t something new. Brady will face the same treatment when he reaches the point that he needs to be replaced. There will always be a team that thinks it can turn the clock back for one or two years. It’s a sad thing to see. Jim Taylor in a Saints uniform was obscene.

Bob from Perth, Australia

Now that Peyton Manning has left Indy, where does his legacy sit in that city’s pantheon of great NFL players?

Pantheon of great players? They’ve only owned the franchise since 1984. They’ve got players in their ring of honor that only played in Indy a few years. Peyton Manning is to pro football in Indianapolis as Unitas was and still is to pro football in Baltimore. The stadium should be renamed for Manning; he could certainly afford to buy the rights.

Ken from Summerville, SC

How are incentive-based contracts figured for the salary cap?

Incentives fall into one of two categories: If they were equaled in the previous season, they are regarded as likely to be earned (LTBE) and, therefore, must be charged to the current year’s cap; if they were not equaled in the previous season, they are not likely to be earned (NLTBE) and, therefore, are not charged to the current year’s cap, but could appear on the following year’s cap if the incentives are met.

Andy from Waupaca, WI

I know Ted Thompson drafts by BAP. By that philosophy, why would you ever trade up? When we traded up to get Matthews at the end of the first round, wasn’t that a reach or am I missing something?

It wasn’t a reach because the spot to which the Packers traded up to draft Clay Matthews is likely the spot at which or higher that the Packers had Matthews ranked on their board. The Packers don’t draft according to Mel Kiper’s board; they draft according to their own. BAP is a real simple philosophy; don’t make it difficult. In theory, you’re predicting the whole draft, pick by pick, and where you have each player slotted is where you believe he should be picked.

Hans from Front Royal, VA

I never played organized football, so I'm trying to understand what seems like a complete dichotomy when it comes to the bounty issue. When I watch NFL football and a player gets injured, there appears to be genuine concern by the players from both teams. I assume this to be because they realize they are all one play away from injury themselves, thus, show compassion for their fallen comrade. So why would a player intentionally try to injure one of his comrades? They're already getting paid large sums of money to hit each other. Why the need for a bounty? I don't get it.

Football has for all the years of my life been a violent game played by men with a fascination for such a competition. George Young was only half joking when he said football is not a game for the well-adjusted. I once had a line coach tell me it’s not normal for people to walk down the street and bump into each other; people that want to do that are different sorts. When Chuck Bednarik clotheslined Frank Gifford, nearly killed him, there wasn’t much in the way of public outcry. We were accepting of what football was, a tough game for tough guys. I don’t even remember much public outcry when Jack Tatum paralyzed Darryl Stingley in a preseason game. I think it says something good about us that we’re outraged by this bounty story. I think it says that the commissioner is becoming successful in his attempt to change the culture. It’s time for the culture to change, and that comes from a curmudgeon that liked the less kind, less gentle game. Hans, I’m glad you don’t get it. It’s healthy that you don’t get it.

Cole from Oshkosh, WI

I read that packers.com is the most visited team site and I would like to congratulate you and the other writers for making our small market team look great.

Congratulate yourself and all Packers fans that read packers.com. This is your site. You make it what it is.

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