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It takes two to tango

Testing the market doesn't mean a player is walking away


Charlie from Denver, CO

Hi Insiders, a lot is being said about the cornerbacks and that it needs to be addressed in the draft. It seems like we have plenty of talent at that position, but no veteran to really help mentor that talent. When Shields was getting into his groove, he had Woodson to give him pointers. How much do you think having a veteran at that position would help, versus drafting another CB? There are a couple CBs coming up to free agency, and that seems like a place that some money could be well spent.

I think a veteran corner would be a great addition, but at what price? The top guys might get bigger deals than Janoris Jenkins got last year, while a mid-level guy might not be that much better than the young, developing talent you have, or he wouldn't be available in the first place. I think the Casey Hayward story (mid-level signing, big-time production) is the exception not the rule at a premier position like corner. In free agency, cornerback might be a go-big-or-go-home proposition for the Packers.

Matthew from Shawnee, KS

Vic says, "Boards don't change much after the combine." So are we supposed to believe the "experts" on TV when they say a player's draft stock has sailed or declined based off of how they performed during the combine?

A player or two might shift considerably here and there, but when you're talking a team's full draft board, it's not undergoing wholesale changes just based on combine data and info.

Dale from Kettering, OH

What player didn't remind you of anybody else?

Christian McCaffrey.

Andy from Tomahawk, WI

Free agents (and to be honest, draft picks) are like online dating profiles. Sometimes they are spot-on, and sometimes they own 12 cats and live in their mom's basement.

Andy needs a hug.

Scott from Memphis, TN

Do players/agents give any mind to a team's cap management? Why sign a long-term deal if you can see the proverbial train coming down the tracks?

The hope is that the player can fulfill the contract, but the reality is sometimes the length of a deal is just for salary-cap purposes to prorate the signing bonus.

Greg from Perkasie, PA

Do you think the fact that this is supposedly a draft with loads of talent at running back and tight end will effect which players the Packers attempt to re-sign?

No, but it might affect how high they're willing to go if a bidding war develops.

Rob from Wetherby, UK

I just listened to the "Unscripted" podcasts from the combine and heard about McCarthy having the defensive and offensive staffs game-plan for the respective sides, and it being an innovation and making them a better staff. It surprised me as I always assumed that's what was meant by the term self-scouting that we hear during bye weeks, etc. So what does self-scouting normally mean?

I was fascinated by that revelation from McCarthy. It's taking self-scouting another step. My understanding of the process, previously, was it involved charting tendencies to guard against being too easy to scout. Offensively, for example, which plays were run out of certain personnel groups and formations, and how often? You don't want your opponent to look at your game film and be able to say, "Every time they line up like this, they're running this," … that sort of thing.

Eugenia from Crown Point, IN

Is Julius Peppers coming back?

It sounds like Peppers wants to continue playing, and I would think he's more interested in Green Bay than elsewhere at this point, so we'll see. Early last season, I thought we were watching the end of Peppers' career. Then he went on that run of four sacks in five games beginning in late November, and I thought maybe he's not done after all. Remarkable player.

Nathan from Sioux Center, IA

Wes said on Saturday that "the best contract doesn't always make for the best opportunity," but is the player really able to decide what's the best opportunity for him and his family? Does the NFLPA put a lot of pressure on players to take the top-dollar contract to continue to bring up overall salaries? Do the agents get paid as a percentage of the contracts and therefore have a vested interest in getting that top contract as well?

To the last two points, yes there's some of both, but people are getting too caught up in the "hometown discount" idea. If they come to pass, those so-called discounts are pretty minimal, so they don't have much impact on the other factors you mentioned. A player is not sticking around if his current team is offering significantly less than he's worth. It's a matter of degree.

Dan from Leland, NC

Rinky dinks, has Packers higher management ever told you not to write something negative or given you a hard time after you've done so? Seems some readers think you're all roses and sunshine, holding back on what you see. Personally, I see opinions on Packer needs, but not needlessly harsh criticism of decision-makers or players. I'm fine with that.

Thank you.

Justin from Los Angeles, CA

When a team repeatedly dips into the well of a particular school (like, say, Iowa, UCLA and Stanford for the Pack), is that a function of the scheme the school employs, relationships with the coaching staff, or something else? And do you guys keep that in the back of your mind when thinking about what players the Packers might draft?

It's more about relationships than scheme, because the relationships produce reliable assessments and information that can be trusted. The player still has to be NFL-caliber, though. At the end of the day, you're drafting the player, not the program he comes from.

Brandon from Green Bay, WI

What happens if a team doesn't make a draft pick before the time runs out? Do they lose the pick or does something else happen?

The next team in line can turn its pick in, and the next team, and so forth. The team that missed its pick can turn in a name at any time, but it obviously risks missing out on the player it wants.

Taylor from Des Moines, IA

Guys, only a few more days until free agency will start. Being a 99.9 percent draft-and-develop team who rarely dips into free agency, you would think we would have had at least some of our top priority players re-signed or at least near a deal. So far the perception that is being built is, there doesn't seem to be much urgency to keep our guys from hitting the open market. I know there is more going on than we are seeing or hearing, but why even let these guys hit the open market? I think a huge reason our offense was playing as well as it was this past season is because defenses couldn't ignore Jared Cook. We finally have a replacement for Jermichael Finley, why would we let him walk?

Never forget it takes two to tango, to repeat one of my favorite Ted Thompson lines. Once the season is done and the players are no longer at risk of getting injured, they're likely going to find out what the market says. To prevent them from doing so, you'd have to offer a contract so far above projected market value that you're compromising your cap. That's not smart business. The two-day negotiating window opens today, and exploring it doesn't mean the player is walking. But he'll use it as a negotiating tool to make sure he's not underpaid, while in the end the current team shouldn't have to overpay. That is smart business.

Jared from Philadelphia, PA

From what we saw last season out of Nelson, we should have no reason to be concerned about a decline in the level of his play. However, since he is becoming less of a deep threat and how successful he is out of the slot, do you think it is important for us to solidify a No. 2 receiver to play opposite Adams at all times so we can keep Nelson in the slot moving forward?

Nelson's skills on the boundary remain exceptional, but Wes and I talked about this at the combine – when the time comes, he could play in the slot for a long while if he wants to, a la Anquan Boldin. I don't think that time has arrived yet, though.

Matt from Hartford, WI

So far, the combine has been what it always has been: glorifying the obvious first-round picks, and the fastest 40-yard dashes. So I'll give you my top three list of intriguing players and you give me yours? T.J. Watt, James Conner and Bucky Hodges.

Ifeadi Odenigbo, Jake Butt, and yeah, T.J. Watt.

Mark from Indianapolis, IN

Are you enjoying my city? Did you have a chance to clear your sinuses at St Elmo's Steakhouse?

I am not a fan of horseradish in any way, shape or form, so the famous shrimp cocktail is not for me.

Defensive backs worked out at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine. Photos by AP.

Bruce from Virginia Beach, VA

I have noticed the Packers go to a lot of the smaller schools looking for talent. Do they have special scouts for this?

Scouts are assigned geographical territories, and their job is to be aware of any potential prospect in that territory. A small-school player has to dominate at his level to have a chance in the NFL, and dominant players are easy for scouts to spot.

Brian from Superior, WI

In the draft and player contract negotiations, I thought you were supposed to play the cards close to the vest, but it seems the Packer staff including McCarthy have gone out of their way to lay praise on Lacy, Cook, Perry and others. Don't they lose leverage with their praise and statements on how bad they want these players back?

As I said before, the market will sort those things out. At this stage, how badly they want them back will be determined by the offer, not their words.

James from New York, NY

One of the things I've learned the most through "Ask Vic" and "Insider Inbox" is the nature of Packer fans. I always thought we were a laid-back, good-natured, fun-loving bunch. Who knew we were also close-minded, mean-spirited, hard-asses? Bummer man.

Innocence doesn't last forever.

Daniel from Los Angeles, CA

Has Thompson ever made a final draft decision where the personnel department were all going for one player and Thompson, for lack of a better word, ignores them and chooses someone else? If so, do you know who that player was?

From my experience, that would not be how he operates, but if it ever happened, we'd never find out.

Steve from Chicago, IL

"Teams can afford what they want to afford. It's all about how much a team is willing to push money out onto future caps." Especially with consistently rising caps, what prevents teams from pushing money out indefinitely?

Because then by default they're always operating with a lower cap than more sensible teams, if you follow.

Braden from Brookfield, WI

I'm excited and nervous for this week. I'm excited that the new season starts to see who will come back to the team, but nervous that the Packers won't have any activity this week. I'm only focused on our guys. After two weeks, I'll start getting excited about free agency. Will you make any predictions for the week?

My expectation is the Packers will have a player or three back in the fold by week's end. That's all I'm really focused on this week as well.

Michael from Oconomowoc, WI

Insiders, what is this year's combine buzz word? Length? Twitch? Dynamic? Kempt? Girth?

Done, for me. It's fun for a few days, but by the end of the week I'm ready to get back home.

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