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Bold is good, unless it fails

Where do you find affordable free agents?


Andrew from New York, NY

Vic, have the Broncos sacrificed their future for this game?

I'd have to study their salary cap to answer that question fully. I can tell you the Broncos' ability to find a quarterback of the future will ultimately answer your question. If Brock Osweiler is "The Man," the Broncos' future is secure. If Osweiler isn't "The Man," the Broncos will have to find their quarterback of the future at the same time they'll have to do some cap repair work, and that's a tough combination to overcome. I'll look at the Broncos' cap and try to give you a better snapshot of it over the next couple of weeks, as we head toward the big game. I get what you're suggesting. If you'd like, I'll take a look at the Saints' cap, too. Let's make sure we don't use the exception to the rule to change the rule.

Brian from Ferndale, WA

You said coaches "get fired for their losses, and then another team hires them for their wins." That was a thing of beauty.

The truth inspires me. I walked under an inscription atop the entrance to my high school: "Knowledge is the power. The truth shall set you free." It's probably the most important thing I ever learned in high school.

Tony from Shanghai, China

Which game tape does Coach Vic spend more time with to prepare for the Panthers in the Super Bowl, Sunday's dismantling of the Cardinals or the loss to Atlanta?

You look at both. You want to know if Atlanta did something special schematically. I have a feeling they didn't, because nobody has seemed to be able to imitate it. Since that loss to Atlanta, the Panthers have turned it on. They have been absolutely dominant.

Eric from Champaign, IL

Do you think the Denver defense is really that good? Can they hit Cam 23 times or even half that much? I think it will be the Panthers defense that will make a play or two to really make a difference in the outcome.

The Broncos defense is strong. Yes, the Broncos can win the game, but the Panthers are the total package. When you have a quarterback as talented as Cam Newton, and your passing game is your team's weakness, you don't have a weakness.

Courtney from Butte, MT

Win now does not mean lose later, so win now. As you sort of say, just don't sell your soul to the salary cap. Here are my thoughts: Use draft and develop forever, but every now and then take your chance. Your odds of winning it all will increase. I believe this is why the Patriots have been the best team in spite of Brady's presence.

I agree. Make draft-and-develop your base philosophy and supplement it with affordable free agency. In other words, patch when you can, as the Packers did with Letroy Guion. The Packers have also patched by signing several of their own free agents. When you sign your own free agents, are you not signing a free agent? Randall Cobb was signed inside the signing window for other teams to present offers to him, which effectively means he was a free agent. Bryan Bulaga was signed as a free agent. Don't those signings count? I can tell you this: You can't sign your guys and other teams' guys, too, and maintain a healthy salary cap.

James from Houlton, WI

McCarthy was criticized for going for two field goals on fourth-and-1 in last year's NFC title game in Seattle. This year, Belichick  spurns two short field goals on fourth down in the AFC title game in Denver and they failed both times.

Lombardi went for it in the 1960 NFL title game, and it cost him his only postseason loss. I think the cumulative message is: "Be bold, unless it's going to fail, then be smart." Makes sense to me.

Randy from San Tan Valley, AZ

What's wrong with the Packers defense? Dom Capers seems to call the wrong defense on many plays and they fail to stop the other team's offense in big games. Example: the Larry Fitzgerald debacle in the playoff game in overtime.

The Packers coverage and rush scheme forced Carson Palmer to scramble to his right – he's not a quarterback that wants to run – and then do something a quarterback should never do, throw late across the field, and you're blaming the scheme? Fitzgerald ran through half the team, which means two Cardinals players combined to execute one of the greatest plays in Cardinals history, and you're going to blame Coach Capers? I don't understand why we struggle so much with defeat. The Packers earned for themselves a second chance in Arizona, and they went out there with great resolve and a great game plan, and they put on the best show of the postseason. We should be applauding their effort, not criticizing it. I think most fans are applauding it.

Ben from Coralville, IA

This past season was difficult without Jordy Nelson. Have you noticed any college receivers Green Bay should consider drafting that are NFL ready and could take some of the pressure off Nelson as a deep-threat receiver?

The wide receiver crop in this year's draft is said to be deep with ready talent. Those are Tony Pauline's words, and they are shared by other draftniks.

Keith from Nottingham, NH

Rolando McClain and Ladarious Green should be at the top of this team's wish list. Draft and develop whoever else you want after we get some guys that can shore up some holes. Depending on rookies to do it year after year is madness. You can sign free agents to fill holes without breaking the bank. I'm sick of you defending Ted Thompson all the time. Admit the fact there is a time and place for free agency, and that time is now.

Very dramatic, but not truthful. You cannot sign free agents to fill holes without breaking the bank, certainly not as I suspect you would like to do it. The time and place for free agency is once and a while and only when the player is affordable and his contract can be structured so the team might escape its wrath. Finding those guys is difficult and they're not likely to be difference-makers. We could argue this all offseason, and I suspect we will, but allow me to make it clear where I stand on this subject: Nothing has changed. I am a dyed-in-the-wool believer in using the draft to acquire talent and avoiding free agency as much as possible. I believe free agency is a trap for fools. You can come here to try to change my mind, but you're wasting your time.

Stephen from Cedar Falls, IA

Vic, was Eddie Lacy's weight really the problem? To me, it was the combination of him playing through injuries, the offensive line's injuries and the fact the passing game wasn't forcing people out of the box.

All season long, my inbox said Lacy needed to lose weight. Coach McCarthy confirmed that fact in his season-ending press conference. I like opinions, but sometimes I think we need to surrender to fact.

Lee from Claremont, Ontario

What influences you the most on BAP assessment in the draft? Is it the Senior Bowl, the combine, the last season played or Tony Pauline's opinion?

Tony has my ear. When he talks, I listen. I trust his judgment. A player's performance in college offers the truest assessment of his talent because it's his fullest body of work. It's especially important as it pertains to games when he played against other draft prospects. The Senior Bowl is a chance to see a player perform in evaluation-specific drills. It can confirm an opinion of a player's college performance, or raise flags about his raw talent; in many cases a player's flaws will have been hidden by a scheme. I think the Senior Bowl is especially good for evaluating talent that didn't play on a big stage and against a lot of draft prospects. The combine is the least important evaluation platform. It's a place for medicals and interviews.

Jamie from Lincoln, UK

I'm surprised I haven't seen a thing on the apparent injury to Rodgers that's forced him out of the Pro Bowl, since that phantom article came about. I know it's obviously nothing to worry about in terms of it affecting the season (given that it's over now), but I think Packers fans would like to know what's happened to him for him to pull out of the Pro Bowl. We do care about him as a person and not just as our quarterback! Can you enlighten us, Vic?

The Pro Bowl doesn't interest me. If I was a star player, I'd find a way to stay out of it. They all have bumps and bruises when the season ends.

Cameron from Neenah, WI

Would star player Vic restructure his contract to give his team a better shot at the Super Bowl?

Sure, I would, but I'd have to get a little something for the effort, if you know what I mean. They all do. They want their salaries converted to signing bonus, which allows the team to push the hit into the future and lower the next season's hit. Who doesn't want their money now instead of later? Don't think they're restructuring to get less money. When a team restructures one guy to make room for another guy, it's robbing Peter to pay Paul, and the combination is devastating when Peter and Paul are both gone but still on your cap.

Tyler from Riverside, CA

Vic, I realize the importance of respecting the salary cap and leaving your team in a good position for years to come. That being said, how many more times will the Packers have the chance to have a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers? We could be the smartest team during the offseason for 20 years but it won't mean a thing without an elite QB.

My inbox is full of "sign everybody" comments. I understand what's happened. A recent article has fanned the flames. I agree with the philosophy of signing affordable free agents that address immediate need, but where do you find affordable free agents? I think the "sign everybody" people are delusional.

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