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Packers nearing decision time on potential free agents

Bryan Bulaga, Randall Cobb or both?


Fred from Nairobi, Kenya

Vic, in what ways (if any) do you think games like Madden have enhanced fans' understanding of the game?

Madden's popularity has created what I call "Cover Two Mania," which means fans have developed an insatiable appetite for knowing football strategy and the terminology that accompanies it. That mania has also dovetailed with an explosion in what Howard Cosell referred to as the "jockocracy," or former players in the media. Madden is the best thing to ever happen to former players seeking jobs in television. What I love most is to see two former players analyze the same play in opposite ways. In "Cover Two Mania," anything is possible. Madden opened the door to a whole new way of looking at football. It turned players, not plays, into plays, not players.

Jim from Hatboro, PA

You said "it's senseless to begin talking about free agents until we know who they are." But there must be at least one player you would like to see in a Packers uniform, if he becomes available.

Not really; I'm not a free agency guy. I'm a draft fanatic and my idea of free agency is that it should be used to patch in the back end of free agency, where you can find bargains, players that can do for you what Letroy Guion did for the Packers last season.

Brent from Baton Rouge, LA

Vic, what opponent would you like to see the Packers open the regular season against and why?

I think I'd like to see something a little different than opening the season against a team with whom the Packers would also end their season. Three years in a row is enough for me. How about an AFC team? Let's go to Oakland in Week 1, for example. The Packers also have to go to San Francisco next season, so I'd be all for spacing those trips out a little. I'd like to see the Packers allowed to ease into the season this year, instead of being shot from a cannon, as they were the last three years.

Wes from South St. Paul, MN

Vic, this is about the 20th time I have submitted a question. Now I have two. What does it take to have a question answered? I have been a diehard Packers fan for over 60 years and have seen some ridiculous things on "Ask Vic." Do you see the Packers drafting a QB and letting either Flynn or Tolzien go?

Wes, as I write these words, there are 3,435 questions in my inbox I have yet to read. As you can see, you have competition. This is why I don't watch television; I read. People ask me what are you reading? I'm reading their questions. That's my promise to my readers. I can't promise you'll be published, but I promise to read every question, though I may only spend a few seconds on some. As for your second question, I expect the Packers to be interested in drafting a quarterback, not because they have a plan for replacing Matt Flynn or Scott Tolzien, but because it's important to not neglect that position. I saw the Jaguars do that. The Jaguars went seven consecutive years without drafting a quarterback. Is it any wonder that position became a problem for them?

Eric from Rensselaer, IN

Vic, when can we expect to start hearing about the Packers re-signing their players?

As we move toward free agency, we near the day when the Packers will have to re-up their players headed for free agency or run the risk of losing them. As far as I'm concerned, they're already free agents because at this late stage you're going to have to pay the free-market price to retain them. Go back to last season and recall the flurry of re-signings just before free agency began. I expect the same to occur.

Brian from Spring Hill, TN

Vic, I have a question about contracts and the salary cap. If a player is signed to a heavily incentive-based contract, since a good part of the contract's dollar amount is unknown, how do they determine what the hit to the salary cap is?

It depends on whether the incentive money is LTBE (likely to be earned) or NLTBE (not likely to be earned), which is determined by whether or not the player would've equaled those performance standards in the previous season. If it's NLTBE, it won't be charged to this year's cap, but will be charged to the following year's cap if the player earns his incentives this year.

Rob from Kent, OH

Vic, am I alone in thinking with a healthy JC Tretter and Don Barclay our offensive line will be OK in free agency?

Those are important names in what the Packers decide to do about Bryan Bulaga. Those names are why "jars on the shelf" are critical to a team's salary cap.

Pete from Sheffield, UK

Davon House thinks he should be a starter. Do you?

Chico Ruiz – "Bench me or trade me" – is the only player I've ever known to not think he should be a starter. I believe House has starter ability. He's a big, fluid, sudden guy, and I think he's coming into his prime and his career might be ready to pop. I hope the Packers re-sign him so he can compete for a starting job.

Keith from Oconto Falls, WI

Coach McCarthy and his two young sons sat directly in front of us at the movies on Valentine's Day. I did not acknowledge him because I did not want to spoil his time with his boys. At first, I was intimidated, but later impressed. Is coach as humble and as close to blue-collar as he seems?

He's the most down-to-earth, regular-guy head coach I've ever known.

Moe from Sarasota, FL

Why would you bold the answers instead of the questions? The point of bold is to get the reader's attention. You shouldn't get the reader's attention with an answer but the actual question.

It seems to have gotten your attention.

Jon from Whitewater, WI

Have you gotten a chance to talk to Tony about Jordan Phillips from Oklahoma? I've seen him taken by the Packers in several mock drafts and I think he very well could be the missing piece at nose tackle, if we're fortunate enough to get him.

I'll be talking to Tony Pauline often this week. This is his time to take center stage. I'm sure he'll comment on Phillips and a whole lot more at the scouting combine. Our coverage begins on Wednesday.

Paul from De Pere, WI

Who is more valuable to the Packers offense, Randall Cobb or Bryan Bulaga? Who would be harder to replace?

Cobb's numbers are irrefutable and define his value, but big guys are usually more difficult to replace. That's why I say Tretter and Barclay are major considerations in what the Packers decide on Bulaga.

Michael from Toronto, Ontario

Vic, with all these coaching changes, should we expect anything different on the field?

Just change the final 3:52 and everything was fine.

Brian from New Port Richey, FL

I applaud the move of McCarthy giving up play calling. It will allow him to see the big picture and control the sideline better. Who was the best you've watched at seeing the big picture?

It's Chuck Noll, not only because he won four Super Bowls, but because he was a head coach/offensive coordinator who played to the strength of his defense. That's when you know a guy sees the big picture.

Greyson from Peterson, MN

Vic, of what you have seen so far, who is the most talented prospect in this year's draft?

USC defensive tackle Leonard Williams might be the guy.

Andy from Thompsontown, PA

Vic, aside from the Packers, which team do you see being the most intriguing next season?

The Vikings.

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