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Most important event of the year coming up

Minus injury, Packers will contend for title


Greg from Brooklyn, WI

Vic, it's good to see Perry and Starks still in the fold. They both have their negatives (injury and fumbles) but it seems that knowing them and their background, even the negatives, provides a better chance of a positive outcome than going with someone you don't know as well.

I completely agree. Continuity is king. I've covered several free agents who've spoken to me about the transition that has to be made in year one. They don't just show up and play. In many cases, they've got families to move. You're talking about selling a home, buying a home, new schools, new doctors, etc. Anybody who has made a major relocation knows the drill, and it weighs on you. It can be a distraction. Players also face adjustments within the locker room and the team's mode of operation. Free agents tend to play better in year two of their relocation than they do in year one. Nick Perry and James Starks face no such distraction. They're ready to go. They know the Packers and the Packers know them.

Adam from Toronto, Canada

Vic, will you please explain a little more in depth the Datone Jones experiment?

Coach Capers stood him up, as he did Julius Peppers. Jones has the athletic ability to play in space. I'd like to see a little more of this.

Wallace from Jacksonville, FL

Vic, who's the best left tackle you've ever covered? What set him apart from the rest and what is your favorite play or memory of this player?

You know who he is. I have a picture in my storage room of Tony and me at a golf tournament. I put it there because that's where the box was when I emptied it. It's next to my picture of dogs playing pool. Anyhow, the difference in size between us is so extreme it's comical. Tony Boselli is the most athletic person for his size I have ever covered, and the combination would've made him the greatest left tackle in the history of the game if injuries hadn't shortened his career. I remember Tony waving Aaron Taylor to come on down during a change of fields at the end of the first quarter. I also remember Tony having both shoulders done at the same time, and his arms sticking out as though he was trying to do a "Touchdown Jesus" imitation. I said, "Tony, how …" He cut me short and said, "Don't ask."

Chad from Cedar Rapids, IA

Vic, who was the hardest hitting safety you've covered? Who put the fear of God into receivers who had to cross the middle?

Glen Edwards. He was chilling. There would've been no changing his culture. Poor John Gilliam. It frightened me.

Jim from Oakland, CA

Here's an interesting way of looking at the draft order. If you compare the worst team with the No. 1 pick to the best team with the No. 32 pick, the worst team gets the best player in the entire draft at the beginning, but thereafter the No. 32 pick is ahead of No. 1 for the entire rest of the draft.

Artie Rooney said that when you're drafting last, you don't have a first-round pick, you have the first pick of the second round.

Kurt from Everett, MA

I have heard rumblings from others that Tom Brady being willing to constantly restructure and take less than his full value is an unfair advantage to the Pats. While I don't agree, do you ever see this becoming an issue with the union?

Brady does not accept less than his full value. He restructures his contract to lessen his cap hit in the current year. In most cases, a contract restructure converts salary to signing bonus, and that amount is then divided evenly over the new years of the contract, which means a portion of the player's salary for the upcoming season will be paid in subsequent seasons. I wish fans would study the cap as much as they do cover two. They're missing the big story.

Mark from Bettendorf, IA

I love that the Packers re-sign their guys. When the team is successful and the team remains recognizable, I become more connected to the team. That's the biggest drawback to college basketball for me. The one-and-done players are ruining it for me. Am I showing my age?

No, you're showing your heart. I think free agency is causing a lot of us to lose heart.

Madison from Lowden, IA

I am a young Packers fan and I wanted to know how you think the Packers are going to do this year.

If they can avoid catastrophic injury, which is what Jordy Nelson's injury was to last year's team, they will contend for the Super Bowl title.

Steve from Racine, WI

What attributes does a scout see to determine if a college player is as good as he'll get, versus a player with upside yet untapped?

Scouts have an eye and a feel for things they see and hear that are undetected by us. They see a prospect do something instinctively, and they fall in love with him. They see him run faster or jump higher at crunch time, and they fall in love with his extra gear. They see him play better against a top prospect than the player did against the lesser player from the undermanned team in the season opener, and they know the player is a top competitor. They see him in a scheme that doesn't favor his talent. They watch his body language. I asked a scout last season about Deshaun Watson of Clemson. The scout's eyes twinkled and he said he thought Watson might have a magic wand. Scouts think in those terms. Coaches will tell you about execution.

Jesse from Mandan, ND

When I was young, the motto for training was bigger, stronger, faster. A guy that can't bench much when coming out of college to me shows he may be lazy in the weight room.

Maybe the player was training for flexibility, not power. That's a question a scout would ask to explain why the player underperformed on the bench. Don't assume. Find out.

Bob from Lakeland, FL

Vic, am I the only one who thinks we need more WRs than anything else? Sure we need help on defense, but Rodgers needs help in the passing game.

I'd like to see the Packers add to their wide receiver corps.

Ben from Northbrook, IL

Vic, you're critical of fans that don't understand how the salary cap works and don't want to understand it. To me, football is just a sport. I really don't want a course in labor relations. I understand why you want and need to know about the salary cap: You write about football for a living. I don't. Is it wrong for a fan simply to treat football as a game?

No, but ignoring the cap limits your understanding and appreciation of the game.

Ron from Lees Summit, MO

How does New England with less cap space than the majority of teams keep signing UFAs?

They make room, as I explained above. They're very good cap managers. The Patriots are creative without being reckless. There will be a price to pay when Brady retires, but that's a price you expect to pay in trying to replace him; I doubt the Patriots expect to shift gears seamlessly from the Brady era to the next era. We're never going to fully understand how the Patriots do it or did it until Brady stops being Brady. When that day arrives, it'll all make sense.

Mike from North Hudson, WI

Vic, with free agency basically at a standstill and the draft over a month away, what type of a feel-good statement can you provide to us diehard Packers fans?

We are rapidly approaching the most important event of the year.

Ron from Bellaire, MI

Vic, what happens if a team spends all of its cap and doesn't have the money to sign its draft choices?

It has to begin creating room. If a player's salary is greater than his bonus amortization, releasing that player will create room. Or if that player has a big salary (paragraph five in cap language) number, you can convert his salary to signing bonus and create cap room in the current year. In my opinion, you're likely weakening yourself in either example. You're either weakening your roster, or stealing cap space from your future.

Garrett from Saint Paul, MN

Vic, would it be logical for a team with a huge amount of cap space, like the Jags or Raiders, to pay an entire signing bonus in one year instead of spreading it across the life of the contract?

Signing bonus must be divided evenly over the life of the contract. You could pay roster bonus, which is declared in full in the year in which it's paid. I think of paying roster bonus in terms of prepaying on future caps.

David from Medellin, Colombia

Vic, what is the difference between cutting a player before the beginning of free agency or after?

If you cut a guy before free agency begins or before he signs with another team, you're not eligible for compensatory pick consideration. In some cases, you might have to cut him to get under the cap. In other cases, you might have to cut him to avoid a roster bonus that has been strategically negotiated to make the player a free agent. Peyton Manning was due such a roster bonus. A strategically placed roster bonus can create dummy years on a contract that help lessen a team's cap hit.

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