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Angst intensifies as tags deadline approaches

Who will be available in free agency?


CB Sam Shields

Dan from Golden Valley, MN

Pet peeves? Misspelling Chuck Noll as Chuck Knoll in Vic's column. How could you, of all people, get that wrong?

I know how to spell his name. You see, when he was winning more Super Bowls than any coach in history, it was common for people to spell his name Knoll, so that's why I spelled it that way. I figured it would underscore the fact that he was the most underrated coach in history. You know what I mean?

Ron from Downers Grove, IL

Wingtips? Are you serious? You must take really good care of your shoes, because they don't make wingtips anymore, do they? Love the column.

They're back, baby, and I'm lovin' it.

Donald from Lexington, KY

Vic, how do you feel about the role of analytics in football and, to your knowledge, do the Green Bay Packers employ someone who works in analytics?

All teams use analytics in some way or another. That's why they keep stats; they help support an opinion or alert us to a flaw in our thinking. I don't believe analytics can be used in football to the degree they can be used in other sports, however, and it's because careers are much shorter in football and injuries dramatically change careers from year to year. For example, if you had used analytics to evaluate Jason Pierre-Paul's worth prior to last season, you would've been horribly misled; a back injury changed everything. Casey Hayward? The list is long. Pro football is a game of replacement. It's a game of one year at a time. Fans want to make a starting lineup in April and then proclaim, "We're going to the Super Bowl," but how much of that starting lineup is left at midseason? Bryan Bulaga? Jermichael Finley? Randall Cobb? Clay Matthews? Aaron Rodgers? In my opinion, stats can't be trusted as indicators of the future in football because circumstances change in the snap of a bone. Trust talent and the development of it. Make sure you have an endless supply of talent to develop because you're gonna need it.

Greg from Westerville, OH

Vic, I just read on a weather website that this was the harshest winter in Green Bay history. You experienced 49 days of subzero temperatures which beat the old record through February 28. Congratulations on setting a new record.

We're gonna push that record so far out of sight that not even Al Gore can see it. It was -3 as I wrote this column this morning, and it's going down to -13 tonight. Sunday was really relaxing. The most exciting thing I did all day was watch the Honda Classic. Next year, I'm gonna get a roof rake, and then I'll really have some fun.

Brian from Kingsford, MI

Really, bud? No Jack Vainisi in your list of best talent evaluators?

I was nine years old when he died, bud.

Uriah from Marysville, OH

Vic, do you think it's possible for a couch to be with the same team for a long time like Chuck Noll?

Yeah, I do. I've had my couch for nearly 20 years. I brought it with me from Jacksonville, which is where I got it in the first place. It used to be in the Jaguars' players lounge, but then they got new furniture and because the couch was only a couple of years old, I bought it and I got it cheap, mostly because the players would sit on it after one of those steamy training camp practices in the north Florida heat and humidity. I once saw the perfect outline of Natrone Means' body on it after he got up. I had it cleaned and it's served me well ever since. I think we're too quick to get rid of couches.


Barbra Streisand

John from Kenosha, WI

Vic, since the comment section was changed to Discus, it's become a travesty; 400, 500, 600 comments. After reading a column, I like to glean ideas, insights, nuances from what the readers have to say. Now it's become full of useless banter. I'm a fan of free speech but not free drivel. Can anything be done to clean it up?

I have to read the comments section several times a day, to make sure nobody has used offensive language in it. I sing a little song as I'm reading it. "People. People who need people. Are the luckiest people in the world." It lightens the mood. Give it a try.

Borivoje from Belgrade, Serbia

Vic, there is no need spending our first-round draft pick on a nose tackle, because his primary use is to eat up blocks. I say grab a defensive playmaker, either at the safety or at inside linebacker. What say you?

Safety and inside linebacker are possibly the two weakest positions in this draft class. That doesn't mean the Packers can't find an impact player at each position, but you wouldn't be dealing from a position of strength if you restricted yourself to those positions. You have to take what the draft has to offer. It's loaded with talent at wide receiver and outside linebacker, to name two positions.

Simon from Mountain View, CA

Well, Vic, tagging season is over. Who do the masses want signed?

Tagging ends at 4 p.m. ET today, and most teams wait until the final day to do their tagging. Hang in there for one more day. Tomorrow, we'll know who the free agents are that'll be available to destroy teams' salary caps.


Bills S Jairus Byrd

Joe from Virginia Beach, VA

Jairus Byrd is unlikely to be tagged. Green Bay could sign him with their cap room and it doesn't seem like they will be retaining many of their UFAs. It makes me a little anxious or scared to think they could let players like Sam Shields go with the cap room they have.

Don't be nervous. Relax and enjoy the intrigue. This is entertainment. We get to see what the Packers' plan is and, in time, evaluate it. Last March, everybody was going nuts about Steven Jackson; it was unnecessary angst. This is all part of the entertainment professional football offers. It's the game within the game and all we can do is watch. In time, it'll all make sense. We have miles to go.

Mark from Saint Paul, MN

Vic, after what I thought was a great interview, I just got rejected by the graduate school of my dreams. Do I move on with no hard feelings, or hang the rejection letter on my wall?

Whatever it takes.

Chris from Green Bay, WI

Is it me, or are most teams waiting to find out what the market for free agents is and waiting for someone else to make a move? Are they afraid to overspend on their own free agents? If Whitner were given a deal, would Byrd be more likely to be signed? What is your take, Vic?

Apparently, we have a very deep draft class. The current CBA makes these players very affordable. Teams have evaluated their players who are headed for free agency, and they've decided they're either not worth what it would cost to keep them, or the teams believe they can replace them more affordably and with a body that doesn't have as many miles on it. Think about this: With the cap having risen sharply and provided a lot of teams with room to retain their players, they've elected not to do it. Why? That's the question you have to answer to understand what these players' real values are.

Cody from Hartford, SD

I love football, but I also enjoy baseball. Do you think implementing a salary cap would help Major League Baseball have more parity and competition?

Baseball has what's called a luxury tax, and it works in a kind of cap/revenue sharing way to even the landscape.

Ben from Columbus, WI

How deep do you think free agency looks this year? I'm wondering if the Packers are allowing so many players to hit the market, not only because of a deep draft but also because of a deep crop of free agents?

You might be right, but either way it's going to cost a lot of money to sign these players and that guarantees the Packers are going to lose a lot more players in free agency than they're going to sign. Maybe the team thinks it's time to shake it up a little bit. Maybe the decision has been made to turn things over. That's just a guess. Whatever the truth is, the Packers have a plan and we're going to start finding out what that plan is next week, when free agency begins and the league explodes with reckless spending that'll please fans and destroy a lot of salary caps. Hang in there. The self-destruction season is nearly upon us.

Phillip from Dunoon, Argyll

I have to say, I was surprised that a deal wasn't struck with Sam Shields. I wonder why Ted Thompson has let him try free agency. What is it that we possibly don't know about Shields?

You're jumping the gun. We still have a week to go until free agency begins. Please, let's all calm down and wait. The Packers have the cap room to do whatever their evaluations tell them they should do. Remind yourself of that fact.

Terry from Rib Lake, WI

Vic, what would you rather have, a great GM and an average scouting department, or an average GM with great scouts?

One can't succeed without the other. Sound evaluations need someone good at picking to make those evaluations work. Scouting isn't picking and picking isn't scouting. A good GM works the draft. He has a feel for maneuvering to get the best bang for his buck, but he needs sound evaluations to know on what players he should spend his bucks.

Billy from Las Cruces, NM

I used to be an avid football fan. I've always been and always will be a diehard Packers fan, but as far as a football fan, I can't stand what the game is becoming. Midway through reading Mark Murphy's column on, I stopped reading, exited the article and was fuming. They're now considering penalizing such hits as the one Randall Cobb took against the Ravens? Aren't players hitting low now to avoid helmet-to-helmet contact? So, if they take hitting low away, what's next? Roger Goodell might as well outlaw pads and turn it into touch football. This isn't the man's game I grew up with, Vic.

It's a problem, but this is the way it is and this is the way it will continue to be. Football is in a player-safety campaign and it won't go away until the necessary changes in the game and the culture have been made. Can't hit high, can't hit low. It's becoming nearly impossible to play defense. In my opinion, the competition committee is going to have to start legislating in favor of defense, to maintain a competitive balance between the two sides of the ball. Good defense was always about physically punishing the offense. Good defense was always about breaking the offense's will. That's the culture the commissioner wants to eliminate. So how do you eliminate that culture without robbing the game of its fundamental attraction? That's the question the competition committee must answer. It has a tough job.

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