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Packers have one of league's best caps

Change is constant; it's about staying young


Nick from Springfield, MO

Vic, the combine is quickly approaching. When evaluating a player based strictly on his combine, what is the most highly regarded combine stat?

It depends on the position. Forty times are very important for wide receivers and cornerbacks. The bench press is big for offensive linemen. The agility tests are important for defensive linemen. Running backs are often judged by their broad jump, which is thought to measure a back's explosiveness. Quarterbacks need to display that they can make all of the throws.

Thomas from Milwaukee, WI

The NFC North has the league's best quarterback, running back and wide receiver, two playoff teams for the past four years and the last two MVPs. Is it the best division in pro football?

It's only won one playoff game in the last two years.

Kenneth from Cadiz, KY

The answer to your cap question is $4.75 million.

That's correct. All of the figures I provided counted toward the current year's cap. We'll take it up a notch after the cap primer appears.

Andy from Calgary, AB

Hey, Vic, with the draft coming up, who's the most talented college player you can remember that chose in the end not to go to the NFL?

Bo Jackson chose baseball over football and played pro football on a part-time basis only. His decision to play baseball was a big loss for football. Charlie Ward elected to play basketball. We'll never know what impact he might've made as a quarterback. He had the tools to be a trendsetter at the position. Kirk Gibson was a star wide receiver at Michigan State and was being touted as a high-pick prospect when he decided to play a year of baseball at Michigan State. He was so good in that season that baseball became his career.

Luke from East Dubuque, IL

With Donald Driver retiring, Charles Woodson being released and Greg Jennings as good as gone, is this a team in transition?

Teams that do it right are always in a state of transition, which is to say they are always in a state of staying young. Older players tend to represent two things teams need to avoid: high cap numbers and injuries.

Jared from Madison, WI

I was wondering when was the franchise tag introduced and what was the reason it was created?

The franchise tag was an invention that was born with the salary cap. It was seen as a device that would help teams protect players from entering free agency, but not without the player being compensated at a price commensurate with his worth. It was also a way of maintaining some of the old system that compensated teams for losing players in free agency. In the beginning, teams struggled to understand the most effective use of the franchise tag. They used it, and that was their mistake because once you used it, you didn't have it to use. What they came to discover is the franchise tag is best not used. It's the equivalent of the atom bomb. Just having one gets the job done.

Allen from Abingdon, MD

Vic, my brother and I both are confused about the prep school thing. How does it make any difference on a young man's eligibility date? Three years after high school is the same whether it starts with regular college, prep school or flipping burgers. Three years is three years. So what is the advantage?

If Jadeveon Clowney had gone to prep school, he could enter the draft this year. Instead, he's not sure if he even wants to play football next season. What that tells me is he's going to play to not get hurt, and that won't work. He's really in a tough spot. A year in prep school has helped a lot of young men mature and focus their energies on what's important. What's the rush?

Ryan from North Branch, MN

Hey, Vic, with Lacy not participating in the combine, does this help the Packers in taking him later in the draft? They could use their first-round pick on a much-needed defensive lineman and maybe get Lacy in the second round.

The news that Eddie Lacy will not be participating in the combine workouts due to a torn hamstring is a huge disappointment for me. I really wanted to see him in drills; I thought he could take a big step into the first round with a top workout at the combine. The hamstring injury might even cancel his pro-day workout; he might have to rely on a personal workout. Everybody knows he's a big, punishing runner. The questions I'm hearing about him have to do with his hips and feet. Does he have the hips and feet to maneuver in traffic? The combine would've answered that question. Now, if you're a team that is already sold on him and don't have any questions about him the combine might've answered, then it's a good thing he's not working out because he likely won't move any higher in the draft.

Ryan from Wisconsin Dells, WI

Could we assume that with Woodson and Saturday being cut they may be clearing up some money to re-sign Jennings?

That would not be my expectation.

Justin from Rochester, MN

Vic, I understand your point about how the cap makes the NFL unfair for small-revenue teams from a business standpoint, but most of us fans don't really care if Jerry Jones has a business advantage over Shahid Khan. I don't see how the salary cap wouldn't level the playing field as far as on-the-field matters are concerned. If each team spends $120 million on their roster, that should create parity, shouldn't it?

Yeah, except you're forgetting something called cash over cap. Because it's a soft cap, a rich team can spend way over the cap to sign players, but move that money out into future years. It still comes down to real money; the cap is monopoly money, the players get real money. If a low-revenue team doesn't have the "real money" to sign players to contracts with big signing bonuses (cash over cap), then they can't compete with the high-revenue teams that can. I like the cap system and I think it levels the playing field to a certain extent, but there are a lot of ways for the Jerry Joneses and Daniel Snyders to press their huge advantage over teams that don't enjoy the Cowboys' and Redskins' revenue streams. So why haven't they? That's what's intriguing. They've tried but failed. The answer is that there's enough football talent in America that nobody can corner the market on it, and that's what protects parity, in my opinion. You can still build a winner with strong football acumen and a sound and stable operation.

Jamie from Rhinelander, WI

Vic, I let my emotions get the best of me. I'll still be a Packers fan, no matter what.

I had no doubt.

Rich from Howell, MI

Any chance they re-sign Woodson for less money?

That would not be my expectation.

Earl from Winnipeg, Manitoba

If you look at the Packers cap, they are in great shape.

The Packers have one of the best caps in the league. If the fans were calling the shots, they'd have one of the worst.

Mike from Las Vegas, NV

I question whether the NFL can survive the apparent evolution of their high-priced product becoming nothing more than a glorified game of flag football being played by laboratory-enhanced giants that produce basketball-like final scores. Would you simply dismiss me as a mere burnt-out exception to a fan base that still remains tightly wrapped around the little finger of the NFL, or a harbinger of what may be looming just over the NFL horizon?

As Mark Murphy often says to me, "The league's popularity has never been higher." Hey, it is what it is. They're doing something right, right? I'm not going to say I don't often wonder where the game is headed, and if it can sustain its popularity given the state of change it's in, but I'm old school and I hear Chuck Noll's voice in my head saying, "First contact wins," and I look down onto the field and see that when you bring it down to that fundamental level of human confrontation, not much has changed. All these years later, first contact still wins. In that sense, it's still the same game.

Billy from Leonardtown, MD

Vic, do you think that in the next few years the Packers can have one of the best defensive backfields in the NFL with Williams, Hayward, Shields and House?

I really like the Packers' corners. I think it's the strength of their defense.

Kyle from Oconomowoc, WI

What do you suggest the NFL have instead of the current cap system?

I'm OK with the cap system. I wasn't OK with it under the 2006 CBA, but I'm OK with it under the current CBA. However, if you want me to provide you with some food for thought, I will. If Roger Goodell called me today and said the NFL was doing away with the cap system and he asked me what the league should do, I'd tell him to go to a system of unlimited roster size for training camp and small rosters for the regular season. Why that? Because it's a way of identifying a lot of football talent but prohibiting rich teams from keeping too much of it. It's how the AFL was built. The NFL roster limit in 1960, when the AFL was born, was 38, then it went down to 36 for 1961-62, up to 37 in '63 and up to 40 the following year, which is where it stayed for a long time. Those small roster sizes were a huge mistake. The best way for the NFL to have kept talent away from the AFL was to increase roster sizes substantially. The AFL was built on NFL rejects joining with a few prized recruits, such as Joe Namath. Small rosters would protect parity every bit as much as the salary cap system does. The problem is the players wouldn't agree to it, and that would introduce a whole new set of problems, beginning with the draft. The current system is here to stay, but it's not the only way to achieve parity.

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