Bruce from Rochester, MN
Vic, with the Eagles jumping to the No. 2 pick, is this becoming the quest to get "The Man"?
Yeah, and there might be a Part III to this quest. The Chargers are now on the clock, so to speak. Who will pay the Chargers a king's ransom to pick, say, Paxton Lynch of Memphis?
David from Prophetstown, IL
Still "being new" four and a half months in, Vic?
Caddy? I've never been newer.
Justin from Janesville, WI
Something in Ted's comment – depth and longevity of your players – struck me. Ted is saying he has predicted/estimated an expiration date on each player and has a plan to replace them?
It's a game of replacement. It's always been that way, but the salary cap has accentuated it. The salary cap has helped make players rich, but it's also caused them to have expiration dates. Teams can't afford to go one year too long with a guy. "Scholarship years" are a thing of the past. Value and cost must meet. It's how you judge a GM. Did he get value?
Shawn from Kissimmee, FL
Is this one of the wildest offseasons you have seen in a while?
Teams are doing bold things. The Panthers' decision to remove the franchise tag from Josh Norman is, in my opinion, an even bolder move than the Rams' and Eagles' trades. Only time will tell if the Panthers' did the right thing in allowing Norman to escape into unrestricted free agency, but I salute their bold approach and their courage and commitment to do what they believe is in their best interests. They fear not the howl of the wolves. I'm impressed.
Andrew from Huxley, IA
Does the release of Josh Norman give the Panthers a compensatory pick?
They didn't release him, they rescinded the franchise tender, which makes Norman an unrestricted free agent. He's free to sign with any team in the league and the Panthers are likely to receive the highest possible compensation for losing Norman. Let's think about this a little bit. Did we just find out what the impact of being able to trade compensatory picks will be? Might that be part of the Panthers' consideration in making this bold move? I think we're going to see even more crazy trades in the future and, frankly, I think that's good for the game because it causes "Hot Stove" excitement football has always lacked.
Brian from Louisville, KY
The Panthers rescinded Josh Norman's franchise tag. Why would you do that? If he was worth the tag, why not keep him at least the year he's tagged?
He hadn't signed the tender, they didn't like the storm clouds they saw on the horizon, and they decided to pursue peace and a new course instead of suffering the inevitable distraction they saw lurking. Norman would've likely been an OTAs no-show, a training camp holdout, a repeating headline that could've driven a wedge between the team, its players and its fans.
Steve from Lake Stevens, WA
Vic, which player or players look to be worthy of the first or second pick in this draft?
I think we all assume it's Goff and Wentz or Wentz and Goff. Who's No. 3? That's the question now.
Jonathan from Milwaukee, WI
Vic, I've had a feeling Ted will be trading up in the first round to get a nose tackle to get some fresh legs at the position now that Raji has retired. Do you see him making a move, too?
Nose tackle isn't a position for which I would expect a team to trade up, especially in this draft.
Jeff from Grafton, WI
What do you think of the Browns/Eagles trade?
The Browns got great value, just as the Titans did in their trade with the Rams. The difference is the Titans have "The Man," the Browns are still looking for "The Man."
Steve from Scottsdale, AZ
Just to let you know, as a long-time appreciative reader, you seem tired and annoyed. Your responses are increasingly blunt or condescending. It feels like you've crossed over from playing and teasing to actually treating the fans with disdain. Comments like "nonsensical genius I've come to expect." Anyway, it's probably just something I'm bringing to it. Hope things are OK. Have a nice day.
Thanks for the analysis and your concern.
Tal from Ascot, UK
I'm a new football fan. What were contracts and re-signing like before unrestricted free agency?
Players had little choice but to re-sign with the teams that held their rights. Fans didn't give much thought to contracts unless a player held out. I remember covering a linebacker named Mike Merriweather. He held out. He lost one whole year of his career. The following spring, he was traded for a first-round pick. That kind of thing wouldn't happen today. Merriweather would've played out his contract and become a UFA.
Tom from Erie, CO
Some mock drafts have our Packers taking Andrew Billings at 27. What do you think?
It's a no-brainer projection. Billings is thought to fit at 27 and the Packers have need. What we don't know is what the Packers' opinion is, and it's the only opinion that counts.
Andrew from Minneapolis, MN
Are one-word answers part of your reduced duties in the organization? Glad the column is remaining. I'll keep reading it as long as you keep writing it.
It's the offseason and I'm looking for subject matter. All of a sudden, one-word answers are subject matter. Some of the readers like them, some of them don't like them. Whatever it takes, Coach Noll was fond of saying.
Chad from Madison, WI
Vic, what was the outcome of Joe Greene's refusal to sing the North Texas fight song?
You pick: A.) The veterans beat him up. B.) He apologized. C.) The Steelers had a new leader.
Nate from Jackson, WY
Vic, we hear time and again about the Packers' draft philosophy of selecting the best player available rather than drafting for needs. But how do you determine who the better player is when you're comparing, say, a running back to a linebacker?
That's proprietary information and teams aren't going to share their process for evaluating talent with the outside world. Every team has a process for assigning grades to players. It could involve weighting grades according to positions. A 6.3 left tackle is considered to be more valuable than a 6.3 fullback. Where does need factor into the equation? Every team initially takes a scientific approach to creating a value board. In the end, however, a pick is made according to feel, and that's where science ends and human subjectivity begins. It's what makes the draft so exciting. The words "on the clock" are the heartbeat of the draft.
Rod from Chugiak, AK
Vic, Branch Rickey revolutionized baseball with his innovation of the game's farm system. He was truly a draft-and-develop, game-of-replacement kind of GM. He made a practice of shedding older, more expensive players in favor of younger, cheaper talent he had brought up through his ranks. If he were our GM, I think he would run things pretty much like Ted Thompson does.
Rickey told Ralph Kiner, "I can lose with you or I can lose without you." Kiner signed the contract. Those days are over. Rickey couldn't run an NFL team as he ran the Dodgers. What Ted Thompson and NFL GMs face today is a far more daunting challenge than what Rickey faced.
Neil from Waukesha, WI
Vic, you crack me up. You have made being informed very enjoyable for me. But there is a question I would like to ask you. Are you a dog person or a cat person?
I'm a dog person for sure, but I love all animals. I was pressure washing the porch yesterday when I saw a lizard sitting on the rail. I stopped just in time to spare his life. "Move, dummy," I said, except I didn't say dummy. He stared at me. I saw terror in his eyes. I think he saw compassion in mine. I coaxed him out of the way and I thought to myself, "I gotta get points for this."
Carl from Wisconsin Rapids, WI
Just read an article about the Browns passing on Roethlisberger, and it's a perfect example of why teams should stick to their board. They passed because they had Jeff Garcia and had just invested a lot in Tim Couch. Years later, the Steelers have their two Super Bowls and Ben is 19-2 vs. the Browns.
The Jaguars also passed on Roethlisberger. The Jaguars had drafted a quarterback No. 7 overall the previous year, and they didn't need a quarterback. The moral of the story is: Make sure you get the quarterback right. You can screw up the other positions and survive, but getting the quarterback wrong is a killer.