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Deep crop of DTs just got deeper

Free agency appears to have cooled


Justin from Titonka, IA

If you were the Broncos, which quarterback, of the ones available, would you try to sign?

Colin Kaepernick still interests me. I'd like to see a quarterback guru spend a couple of seasons with Kaepernick, especially working on his ability to look off defenders. That's the part of Kaepernick's game, in my opinion, that needs to be developed, especially considering his long throwing motion. His bouts of wildness, I believe, are the result of having to overthrow the ball because the window is closing; he's being read by defenders and they're breaking on the motion. He's a talented guy. I wouldn't quit on that talent.

Edward from Canton, SD

Why are you unwilling to publish my proposal that, effective June 1, 2017, no player in the NFL may weigh more than 300 pounds? It would make the game safer for its players and would extend the careers of the linemen and the players they hit. Come on, it will be more fun than talking about the salary cap.

The NFLPA wouldn't agree to such a rule, and I can't begin to imagine the Pandora's Box of lawsuits an arbitrary and capricious rule such as that would produce. The topic of discussion you dislike, the salary cap, controls the game. It is the single-most important spoke in the wheel of professional football. If you don't know the cap, you don't know professional football.

Braeden from Mitchell, Manitoba

I had the pleasure of watching David Onyemata raise his draft stock on his pro day, but I wonder what concerns would an NFL scout have converting a Canadian football player into the NFL?

I don't see a reason for concern. If a player has the physical tools to play the game, the coaches will close the gap on whatever transition the player has to make. The scout's job is to find talent. The 17 or so teams that were able to overcome flight and passport problems to attend Onyemata's pro day were there in search of talent. They found it. He's got NFL measurables and put on a tempting show of physical skill. Why wasn't he invited to the combine? A deep crop of defensive tackles just got deeper.

Bubba from Pocatello, ID

Vic, in the blink of an eye, the defensive line becomes a position of need.

That's why you draft the best available player. Need is unpredictable.

Willie from Hayward, WI

With B.J. Raji taking the 2016 season off, combined with Pennel's suspension, the defensive line becomes a position of need. During the season, you always tell us help is not on the way. What do the Packers do in March and April to solve the problem now?

This is when you stock your shelves with jars you'll need to open after the first frost. Draft and sign everybody you can. You don't know where or when you'll need them, but you will need them. Maybe we should spend less time focusing on need and more time focusing on good football players.

Isaac from Nashville, TN

Vic, I agree with you about the draft-and-develop strategy, but what do you think are its weaknesses? I thought we saw one this year: You might get caught with key guys going through awkward phases in their development as players.

It requires patience, and we are not a patient people. The league's owners hear the howl of the wolves. The league's owners fear the wolves.

Brian from Wrightstown, NJ

I'm sure you will be getting a ton of email about B.J. Raji stepping away from the game for at least the coming season to focus on family. How does this affect the draft?

It shouldn't affect the draft, especially this year, being that the defensive tackle crop is deep and apparently getting deeper. Yes, a GM has to acknowledge need and address it in the draft whenever possible, but never at the expense of value. Get good players, regardless of position.

Matt from New York, NY

How important is nose tackle in a 3-4 defense, specifically for the Packers?

You can't stop the run if you can't hold the point. If the nose tackle is moved, you're done.

Michael from Anchorage, AK

Is it just me or does free agency in the league seem a bit tame this year, compared to the last two or three? I don't detect the same froth, at least by the teams.

It appears to be a weak crop. The lack of depth created extra froth for a few players at the top, but the mania to sign players other teams don't want has cooled dramatically. I think we'll see it pick back up when the talent left in free agency begins to reach its real market value.

Jay from El Paso, TX

A lot of mock drafts have Andrew Billings (Baylor) falling to us. What's the scoop on this kid?

You want a nose tackle? Here's your guy. He's squat and powerful. He reminds me of Joel Steed, the best nose tackle I ever covered.

Greg from Ann Arbor, MI

Apparently Ray Drew, the street free agent the Packers signed on Monday, is nicknamed "The Pastor of Disaster." Whether or not he ends up making the 53, that's an All-Pro handle. You've probably been asked this before, Vic, but what are some of your favorite nicknames among the players you've covered?

Nicknames were big in the '70s; nearly every player had a nickname, and media delighted in creating them. Mean Joe, Mad Dog, Fats and Hollywood Bags are some of my favorites. Today's nicknames sound more like "Star Wars" characters. I think it says more about us than it does about the players. Once upon a time, we romanticized players. We delighted in their human qualities. Now, we want them to be machines. Megatron? I hate that FOX robot. These are brave and passionate men. They're not machines.

Dave from Comer, GA

I went to and looked up an old column of yours. It happened to be third-person "Ask Vic." Dave thinks Vic should do that again on

Vic didn't like it. Vic felt like Vic was dead.

Bridget from Chicago, IL

Vic, someone made the mention that Packers fans understand we don't have a billionaire owner and, therefore, we can't go after overpriced free agents. Am I wrong that the amount of money an owner has to spend has no impact on the amount of money the team is able to spend? The cap is the cap, regardless of your owner?

That's not entirely true. There's something called "cash over cap." It's the bonus money that's pushed out. If an owner has so much money that real money is of no concern, his cap man can find ways to push out a lot of it.

Ben from Shorewood, WI

Vic, just read about B.J. If the trend of early retirements continues, do you see the league negotiating retirement compensatory picks into their next CBA?

I don't. What's the difference between early retirement and an early end to a career due to injury?

Matthew from Green Bay, WI

Free agent LB Zach Brown measures out as a very athletic player, is only 26 years old, and might be relatively affordable. He has played ILB in the 3-4 with the Titans. It sounds too good to be true, except the Titans recently hired Dick LeBeau and now they seem prepared to let Brown leave. What questions would GM Vic have about a player like Brown in this type of situation?

I'd have to know why he lost his starting job, so I'd put on the tape and I'd look for reasons. Can I live with the deficiencies I see? Can they be fixed? Can he be utilized better? The Steelers allowed Mike Vrabel to leave in free agency. The Patriots found a better way to use him. It happens, but it tends to be the exception to the rule.

Tyler from Minocqua, WI

Vic, with the retirement of B.J. Raji, do you see the Packers pursuing a Terrance Knighton or someone similar?

The evaluation work was done long before free agency began. Whatever the Packers' evaluation of the free-agent defensive line crop is, it won't change. What changes now is the need to add to the Packers' defensive line group. Do the Packers believe they can address that need in the draft, or do they think they need to sign a veteran? It wouldn't surprise me if they did both.

Matthew from Green Bay, WI

Do you think the draft-and-develop philosophy attracts/motivates players? As an employee, I know I appreciate it when my employer is willing to invest in my growth.

The Packers' philosophy of operation promotes loyalty. When you commit to others, they commit to you. When the Edmonton Eskimos were winning all of those Grey Cups, they were at the top of the CFL in Canadian players. The league title meant more to them. Football is a game of the heart.

Lori from Heredia, Costa Rica

Vic, I've been a faithful reader of your column ever since the first day I read it, which was the morning after that "Fail Mary" play in Seattle. I wonder which dates are your top five in terms of the number of questions you have received in your inbox.

I don't know what the top five are, but two columns in particular jump out at me. The first is a Monday column in 2004, following a thrilling Sunday nighter between the Jaguars and Steelers in Jacksonville. The stadium was full of Steelers fans, who chided Jaguars fans by dubbing Jacksonville Jacksonburgh. The column exploded. It was on fire all week. I've often said that was the game that gave birth to "Ask Vic." I think the same can be said of what the "Fail Mary" game did for the column in Green Bay. By the time the Packers' plane landed in Green Bay, my inbox was smoking. Nobody slept. Packers fans were looking for someone to hear their pain. What do those two games have in common? Exciting finishes and controversy. It's a winning combination for the media.

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