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The football world will be watching

There's always risk involved with free agency


Karlos from Biloxi, MS

How much involvement do current players on the roster have in the draft? Do any of them show up for the draft to cheer on their old schools or draft buddies?

Oh, they're paying attention. I don't know if you recall but Datone Jones voiced his support loudly on social media when the Packers drafted his former UCLA teammate Brett Hundley in 2015 and close friend Kenny Clark last year. I don't know how many of them show up for the actual draft, but you can bet they're watching. The football world will be watching.

Deb from Shawano, WI

Vic talking about the three main offensive weapons (QB, RB, and WR) leads me to think many of the other players on the offense are actually defenders, defending the position on the field. If that analogy is true, what players on the defense would be considered offensive players – DB, LB? If these are the ones, is that why they are higher profile than other players on the D?

I touched on this before I went on vacation in saying that's why pass-rushers tend to be considered the face of the defense. The quarterback is king because he's the one touching the football on every play (with a few exceptions). The question every defensive coordinator asks is what can I do to disrupt him and get him off his spot? It starts up front with the defenders who are closest to the quarterback and the football: your pass-rushers. Cornerbacks and safeties have an important role, but it's the pass-rushers who have the shortest path to the football. There's a reason Reggie White is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and All-Pro safeties like LeRoy Butler are trying to gain more respect.

Randy from Trophy Club, TX

Here's the way I see it. Use all avenues to get better...sign free agents to fill needs because you have a better idea of what a player's contribution will be. Draft the BAP and hope some of the picks align with need. TT needs to sign a few FA's every year.

I think one of the most common misconceptions in the NFL is you know what you're going to get when you sign a free agent. I'd argue the risk and reward of free agency has more similarities to the draft than people give it credit for. Yes, you've seen what a player can do in the NFL, but that doesn't always mean he'll continue to produce at that level. For every success story, there's also one of failure. That's just how it works. If you need further proof of that, count the number of once-coveted unrestricted free agents who are released every February. NFL personnel executives do their research and negotiate. If everything adds up, they pull the trigger, but there's always risk involved. That's why Ted Thompson is paid to make those decisions and I'm paid to write about it.

Dylan from Amery, WI

Be honest. Every time you interview Julius Peppers you secretly want to ask him, "Can you give me a piggy-back ride?"

I don't think you can fully appreciate how large Peppers is until you see him in-person. There just aren't a lot of human beings who are built the way he is. Peppers is a truly one-of-a-kind athlete who likely could've excelled in either the NFL or NBA.

Wayne from Rockton, IL

I don't understand why year after year the Packers are in the hunt, but Coach McCarthy isn't discussed for Coach of The Year. I think he should at least be considered, what's your thought?

The NFL tends to favor upstarts and turnarounds, but it is something the league's second-longest tenured head coach has yet to win that award. It just happens his four most successful regular seasons came at the same time as either a massive turnaround (Dallas in 2016, Arizona in 2014 and San Francisco in 2011) or New England's perfect regular season in 2007. That's how it goes.

Ben from Green Bay, WI

Why haven't the Packers used their franchise tag since 2010 when it was last used on Ryan Pickett?

The Packers haven't needed to. I think that's largely because they've been able to do extensions with key players before their deals expire. Some of the Packers' biggest signings over the last five years – Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, Jordy Nelson, Mike Daniels and David Bakhtiari – signed either before or during their final contract season. The few who haven't such as Randall Cobb and Bryan Bulaga still agreed to terms before free agency began. The Packers have just done a good job of identifying key soon-to-be free agents and keeping them in the fold before having to use the tag as a bargaining chip.

Taylor from Amarillo, TX

Spoff's response on Saturday to the televised comp pick selection show was dead on. I'm very torn on what the Packers should do with Perry. I think he's proven his ceiling is a disruptive, playmaking edge rusher (beyond simply flashing potential). Injuries and overall consistency, to me, is a greater risk than a lot of players, though. I expect keeping him will require a somewhat meaty investment and can't decide if that price will be worth it. Any insight?

As Spoff said last week, Perry's situation is so unique when you weigh his 2016 production with his injury history. He'll be one of the league's most intriguing storylines to follow over the next month.

Josh from New Berlin, WI

What are your thoughts on Erik Walden? He didn't live up to his contract with the Colts (likely hurting his market value), but he managed 11 sacks last season and would fill a huge need. He also has rapport with Green Bay's coaches, and would likely have a smooth transition back.

I'm not sure where Walden will fall in free agency coming off a career year at 31 years old. I do think he played better in his four seasons with the Colts than you suggest with 166 tackles, 23 sacks and six forced fumbles. He's also good against the run. The Packers made the right decision for them when they turned the starting job over to Perry in 2013, but Walden proved to be a fine fit in Indianapolis.

Luke from Ellendale, ND

Just wondering, why are kickers and punters not invited to the combine?

Specialists also receive combine invites. There just aren't as many brought to Indianapolis. I always kind of felt bad for the long-snappers whom no one talks to during the round of interviews with the media.

Joe from Bloomington, IN

Don't you think the value for a compensatory pick should be multiplied by the number of years the player was on the team? New England got a third-rounder for Revis after only one year. That seems like an abuse of the system.

I don't know how the entire system works, but I think it's generally on target. It's understandable that teams that lose players who are in the highest demand get the better compensatory pick. I think it is worth noting that Casey Hayward played beyond what his contract was. How much his 2016 accolades should affect that compensatory process is up for others to decide, but I believe it should be given serious consideration.

Justin from Athens, GA

Is our success in the later draft rounds simply a product of having more picks in those rounds?

I can see why you'd ask that given most of those extra compensatory picks tend to come on the third day of the draft. Arguably the Packers' best third-day draft came in 2013 when they wound up making 11 total picks. However, they also had productive years when they didn't have a lot of late-round picks in 2010 (James Starks, Andrew Quarless, Marshall Newhouse and C.J. Wilson) and 2014 (Corey Linsley, Demetri Goodson and Jeff Janis). It just depends, but generally more swings translates to more hits.

Steve from Beaver Dam, WI

What does an offensive perimeter coach do?

We'll get you the answer to that question in Indy.

Chris from London, UK

Do teams ever interview/meet with/host a player they know they will never draft, if only to get some information on them?

Teams tend to cast wide nets when it comes to the draft because you never know how things will turn out. There are players you know won't be available when you pick, but you're always doing research.

Shawn from Fort Collins, CO

With many of the NFC teams building a stronger run game, do you think the Packers will look to the draft to select another DT or wait to see if their rookies make a jump during their sophomore year?

I'm looking for the rookies to make a jump in Year 2 because you saw significant progress in Year 1. The Packers have their top four defensive linemen based on playing time – Daniels, Letroy Guion, Kenny Clark and Dean Lowry – all under contract for the next two seasons. Those were the primary contributors on the eighth-ranked run defense in the NFL this past season. You see where the dust settles with free agency and start your plans for the draft, but there's plenty to like about the current makeup of the defensive line.

Larry from Marshall, IN

Can anything take your breath away or bring tears to your eyes like walking in the stadium on a warm fall day in Green Bay? I feel the ghosts every time I walk in and it is where my best memories are of growing up. All you need is some leaves burning and you're in heaven.

Since I was hired, I tend to take a walk every so often around the third level of the concourse, occasionally peeking into the bowl to look at the field. It's never lost on me how much history has been made in this place. I'm kind of nostalgic by nature. If I go to Washington D.C. or Boston, I try to hit all the landmarks because there's something special to me about standing in the presence of history. Cliff had an amazing column two weeks ago about the areas where original cement and steel remain from Lambeau Field's inception. How incredible is that? All those years, all those memories from then until now.

Curtis from Yachats, OR

We're at the point in the offseason where you've recognized the stars, the key contributors, and the underrated guys who flew under the radar. Is there another hidden gem from last season who you haven't had a chance to highlight yet?

Brett Goode. I think you have to tip your cap to the Packers' long-time snapper. He tore his anterior cruciate ligament against Oakland on Dec. 20, 2015. Not only did he finish out that game against the Raiders, but he also was back on the active roster for the 2016 regular-season opener against Jacksonville. I know he's not a running back or receiver, but his ability to play in all 19 games only nine months removed from major knee surgery was impressive.

James from New York, NY

Why do you think fans care so much about a player's number? If Ty is 44 or 88 makes no difference to me. Am I missing something?

It's the novelty of it all. I remember how big of a deal it was when Richard Rodgers gave James Jones No. 89 last year. Fans and media were going bonkers over it, but Rodgers was so low-key. He didn't care what number he wore. In my experience, fans want to know everything about the team they love right down to the numbers players wear. It's how players are represented on the football field. I'm sure there's also a good portion of Ty Montgomery fans out there who are excited to add that jersey to their collection, as well.

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