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He could trade up, but probably back


Bill from Appleton, WI

If free agency didn't begin until Tuesday, why were teams able to wine and dine Peyton Manning before the deadline?

They were allowed to engage with Manning because he was released prior to the start of free agency and the new league calendar year, which also means he doesn't apply to compensatory pick consideration for the Colts.

Dirk from Minden, Germany

I just watched the movie "Blind Side" and, in the beginning, the story of how Lawrence Taylor changed both Joe Theismann's life and the future of the NFL. Could you explain how exactly that happened?

Forrest Gregg was a right tackle. That was when teams ran the ball. The right tackle was the dominant tackle then because, as Coach Lombardi said, football was first and foremost a running game, and most teams were right-handed in their running attacks. Anthony Munoz was a left tackle. That was after the rules changes of 1978 when it was decided that offensive linemen could use their hands to block, which led to football becoming first and foremost a passing game. Lawrence Taylor was a blindside pass rusher, meaning he came from the defense's right side. He was so good at it that everybody tried to copy what the Giants were doing with Taylor, which put a premium on the player that blocked the blindside pass rusher, which is to say the left tackle. Taylor changed Theismann's life because Taylor turned Theismann's leg into firewood, and Taylor changed the future of the NFL because he turned left tackle into one of the most premium and highly paid positions in the game.

Adrian from Rochester, NY

Vic, you say players yearn for the long-term financial stability they can get from a multi-year contract, which is why situations like a one-year franchise tag are less desirable. But in the long run, I don't see how a player's financial security is going to be that much better with a contract that only lasts a couple of years longer, when he's making millions of dollars in either situation. It seems like they get the most money from their signing bonus and, especially in the case of franchise players, their one-year salaries should be big enough to support them the rest of their lives.

If they sustain a career-compromising injury in their franchise year, they will have lost millions of dollars. I don't like the franchise tag. In my opinion, if a player has reached that level of achievement in his career that he should be franchised, he deserves a long-term contract or, at the least, the chance to pursue one.

Sean from Berne, IN

Is there any QB from the free-agent market that led his new team to a playoff or Super Bowl?

It's difficult to define what constitutes a free-agent quarterback; Kurt Warner, for example, was technically a free-agent quarterback. Scott Mitchell took the Lions to the playoffs. Mitchell's Lions career, however, is not remembered fondly; he was a huge free-agent acquisition. Elvis Grbac was certainly a bust for the Ravens. When you sign a quarterback in free agency, you better buckle up because the risk usually exceeds the reward. I think it's fair to say the preponderance of great, championship-winning quarterbacks in NFL history were drafted by the teams they led to championships.

Sam from Mira Lome, CA

Will the Packers pick up Mario Williams in free agency?

I'm going to stick with my initial opinion that the Packers probably won't sign Williams.

Ryan from Wausau, WI

The Bears just acquired star WR Brandon Marshall and are also considered the front-runner to get Mario Williams. How do you think these moves will affect the Packers' offseason decisions? Will they now need to be more aggressive in free agency in order to stay a neck ahead of their division rivals?

The Packers are the team the rest of the NFC North is pursuing. The Packers have established a very successful means of operation and I don't think they're going to change it because someone in the division has signed a wide receiver. The Packers will sit and pick. They'll draft and develop their players and, in the process, provide for the long-term future of the franchise by molding the young players they draft in a winning tradition.

Rusty from Seattle, WA

Vic, I'm about done talking about Flynn. What I want to know is what you think about Graham Harrell.

The only question about him coming out of Texas Tech was his arm strength. Did he have a strong enough arm to be successful in the NFL? Tech hasn't turned out a lot of passers that have been successful in the NFL. They tend to have been system quarterbacks. That was the stereotype I had envisioned for Harrell, but I kept an open mind as I watched him in last summer's preseason and I think he has a strong enough arm to be a successful quarterback in this league. I'm not going to tell you that he's the next Dan Marino, but Harrell can make the ball spin pretty good.

James from La Crescent, MN

Will the Packers go after Carl Nicks? The Packers could really use him.

James, I have literally gotten questions from people asking me if the Packers were going after nearly every player headed toward free agency, many of whom didn't even make it to free agency because they either re-signed with their teams or were franchised. If I had answered no to every one of those questions, my guess is I'd have a batting average of about .999. Hey, maybe it would even be 1.000. The truth is, I don't know who they're going after.

Nathanael from Nekkosa, WI

Do you think the Packers will trade up in the draft?

If you look at Ted Thompson's drafts with the Packers, you'll see a propensity for trading, mostly back, but sometimes up. Yeah, I think there's a chance he could trade up. I think there's a better chance he'll trade back, but I'd bet my dog, the one that doesn't like me, that he'll do one or the other. Thompson loves to trade picks on draft day. That's his draft signature.

Bob from DeMotte, IN

The money these college players get without even playing one NFL game is ridiculous. They have ruined the game with these high salaries. That goes for all sports. I think a college player should stay in college for all four years before thinking about playing professionally. I don't buy the hardship case.

I thought I was old-school.

Dan from Milwaukee, WI

One side thinks it was an amazing day, and the other side thinks Flynn's 480-yard, six-touchdown performance is too small a sample to judge him (along with the Patriots game). What is your favorite example of a player having an amazing game, but never coming close to matching it for the rest of their career?

I covered a quarterback for one game in 1997 that lit up the New York Giants as though he was Johnny Unitas in the 1958 NFL title game, and then did nothing after that. His name is Steve Matthews and he threw for 275 yards in that game. He played in one other game in his pro career; he threw for 24 yards. That was it; career over. I happened to mention his name in conversation with Mike McCarthy one day, and Mike's eyes lit up. Mike had coached Matthews in Kansas City and Mike went on and on about Matthews' size, arm strength and athletic ability. Matthews is a symbol of all the talented players out there that are good enough to do it for one day, but can't sustain their success. The men who play this game are extraordinary athletes and football players. Never allow your appreciation for that to dull.

Kirk from Windsor, Ontario

What do you think the Packers should be focused on most in the draft, getting a defensive lineman to stop the run or someone in the secondary to help shut down the passing attack that destroyed their defense this past season?

I think the pass defense is worthy of more attention than the run defense.

Leah from Appleton, WI

Why is there a draft in the NFL? Why doesn't the league use a system where everyone becomes a free agent after finishing college football?

The draft is the creation of Bert Bell, the NFL's second commissioner. He was a football visionary. Pete Rozelle gets due credit for his role in pro football's rise to popularity, but Bell has never gotten the credit he deserves. The draft has been the lifeblood of the league. It has been the greatest tool in promoting parity. Why would you want to extinguish it?

Shawn from New York, NY

I thought teams/agents weren't allowed to speak to one another until 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday. Can deals really be done that quickly? The skeptic in me says no.

Team calls agent at 4 p.m. Player boards plane at 4:01 p.m. Yeah, sure. I'll take the draft any day.

Roger from Indianapolis, IN

If Tim Tebow becomes available, should the Packers even think about getting him as a bargain and try to make him into another Paul Hornung type of back?

Again, I'll say no. I think that includes everyone now. By the way, Packers tackle Bryan Bulaga is going to conduct a chat with fans at noon CT today on I invite all fans to participate.

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