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They're a double-edged sword

Different approaches have their tradeoffs


Scott from Memphis, TN

Those who can't play, coach. Those who can't coach, talk on TV/radio. Those who can't talk...answer fan questions? Kidding! Big fan of you guys.

And I'm back. Appreciate the hearty welcome, I think.

Alex from Helena, MT

T.J. Watt is currently being projected as a first-round pick. In many cases, he's projected to be picked by the Packers. I'm sure he's a very good football player, but do you think his draft stock is being elevated because of who his older brother is and the success he's had?

His name helps him draw more national attention, no doubt about that, but an NFL team isn't going to draft him because of his name. His draft stock on draft day is what will matter, not what it is now. Whether the media have overvalued him compared to scouts and GMs because of his name will be found out then.

In his third season with the Packers, TE Richard Rodgers caught 30 passes for 271 yards and two touchdowns while appearing in all 16 games. Photos by Evan Siegle and Matt Becker,

Ryan from Madison, WI

Mike, I thought the "2016 in photos" albums were of upcoming free agents? Richard Rodgers and Morgan Burnett will not be free agents, right?

You've hit on one of our secrets. The "year in photos" series runs all offseason, and I'm sure you can figure out why we start it with the pending free agents before moving on to the rest of the roster. We never know. We're just trying to be smart.

Zach from Kansas City, MO

Why do we continue to have to watch the Packers waste money on Clay Matthews? I understand that he is a special talent, but the guy hardly plays, and when he does play, he can't play at full potential because he is injured. Why not either trade him to someone who will pay for the talent, or cut him and spend the money in free agency? I think Clay Matthews is the black hole on our defense.

I understand people's frustrations with injuries. I don't understand how that morphs into wanting to get rid of a star-caliber player so that when he's healthy and back to his accustomed level he's playing for somebody else. Bryan Bulaga missed 35 of a possible 88 games due to injury from 2011-15. Should the Packers have kicked him to the curb, too? Would Green Bay's offensive line have gotten better without him? He's one of the best right tackles in the league. Yes, Matthews needs to get healthy and produce more than he did in 2016, but this defense will not get better in 2017 without him. I can promise you that.

Stefan from New York, NY

Vic had a lot great reasons for the lack of trades in the NFL compared to MLB. I'd like to throw one more into the ring: team cohesion. Football is much more of a team sport and getting rid of and adding players I feel would affect chemistry on the field. Offensive line knowing who blocks who, zone coverage tendencies, QB trusting WR will adjust route concepts, etc., all take a long time to develop. In MLB it's super easy to plug and play. Any other reasons you can think of for the lack of trades?

There are no systems in baseball. There's also no crying in baseball, but nobody delivers that line quite like Jimmy Dugan.

Zach from Missoula, MT

Why don't GMs trade later-round picks more often to trade up and draft more likely to be star players in the first round? I understand the desire for as many shots as possible at the board, but it seems you could almost always get into the top 15 picks.

The cost of moving up in the first round is much greater than you think, and history shows the first round of the draft is barely better than a 50-50 proposition at best.

Heather from Green Bay, WI

I believe Vic mentioned some time ago that the Packers Pro Shop keeps 100 percent of the profits on items purchased there, whereas if you purchase your Packers items anywhere else, the Packers share with all other teams and only recoup 1/32 of the profit. Assuming I have that correct, why don't we see the Pro Shop advertising that nifty hook?

For a long time, the store's tagline was, "Where your purchases help the Packers win."

Jason from Wausau, WI

I disagree with Jared from Philadelphia on celebrations. Personally, I don't like excessive celebrations after a big play or a touchdown. These players have made big plays their whole football careers, which is why they're in the NFL, and they ought to simply act like they've been there before, because they have. I know, they just can't resist the spotlight.

I liked Washington's "Fun Bunch" in the early 1980s, but the league didn't, even back then. I guess I was young and impressionable.

Kris from Las Vegas, NV

To get my offseason fix of the Packers I was watching a highlight segment of the 2010 Super Bowl. What does Clay mean when he yells out, "Spill it, Pickett"?

He wants Pickett to force the run to go outside, to "spill" the running back toward Matthews on the edge.

Dan from Houston, TX

Mike, what happened to Vic? Two weeks in a row conceding ground to the wolves? I thought last week was just an aberration. That being said, are there really any free agents worth targeting that aren't our own? Perry, Hyde, Lacy, Cook, and Lang are all near the top of the list of available players at their positions.

Vic can be a reasonable man, and he's acknowledged the ticking Rodgers clock twice now, so it wasn't just a night of bad barbecue. That said, he's not guaranteeing a difference-maker will be out there at a non-crippling price, and I'm not either. Your point about the Packers' own is valid, and right now they're only available to the Packers, which I expect them to take advantage of in at least a case or two. Tom Brady just won a Super Bowl at 39 years old, and if you swing and miss on a crazy-cost free agent, you'll have shortened the Rodgers window, not enhanced it.

Dave from Coloma, MI

Insiders, a rule that drives me nuts is the "half the distance to the goal line." What would you think about having a mark at the 1-foot line and placing the ball there? I would say the 1-inch line but I want to be a little realistic.

The only thing I don't like about it is the potential for unfair application. If the offense has first-and-goal on the 2 and the defense jumps offside, the ball goes to the 1, but a false start on the next snap would put it back on the 6. Those situations don't occur often and I've never heard of any push to rectify it, but it could easily be fixed.

Russell from Henrico, VA

Offseason. Too soon for free agents, combine and draft. How about a discussion of stupidest or harshest NFL penalties? I vote for the fumble rule that gives the ball to the defense if it goes through the end zone.

I've said it before in this space, that I've never understood giving the ball to the other team when it doesn't actually recover it. I don't think I ever will.

Andrew from Cincinnati, OH

What does it take for players at Division III schools get noticed prior to the draft? There are only so many hours in a week for scouts to analyze players. Does a WR have to put up 1,500 yards or a DE several sacks a game to get noticed? I know the level of competition is less than Division I.

That's why they rarely get drafted from that level, but the elite players will get shots as undrafted rookies in camps, because scouts want to see them against better players. If a player dominates at that level and tests well enough at a workout – top D-III players are often invited to a nearby D-I school's pro day – he'll get noticed.

Russ from Bowie, MD

I don't get all the controversy over Ted Thompson's draft-and-develop philosophy. It's not that different from what Bill Belichick does, it's just that Ted wants a young-cheap player and Bill is willing to take an older-cheap player. You're still looking to build the lower half of your roster with somebody who won't kill your cap. Thanks.

The former approach has the potential to foster more roster stability in a league of ever-changing personnel; the latter's results are less likely to be negatively affected by mistakes attributed to youth. Each has its tradeoffs.

Garrett from Portage, IN

Since Ted Thompson had around 10 to 12 million dedicated to Shields this season before he was cut, why wouldn't Thompson dedicate that to getting another corner on the market?

He might. We don't know he won't. But he's going to make sure the investment is worth it.

Paul from Manitowoc, WI

Hi guys, I know players prep for the combine's physical aspect. Do they also prep for the mental aspects also? How do they prepare for the mental parts?

Their agents typically get them interview coaches, and the players will often talk to former college teammates who have gone through the process about what kinds of questions to expect and how the interviews work.

Dylan from West Haven, CT

I know everybody is expecting the Packers to be more aggressive in free agency, but I feel like the more aggressive we seem, the more we seem willing to overpay players, therefore leading to higher expectations. Personally, I prefer the one-year "prove-it" deals. How do you feel?

They're a double-edged sword, and the player has to be willing to take that type of deal as well. It's a business decision for him, too. The way things look, the Packers probably would have loved to get Jared Cook under contract for longer at the salary he signed for last year, while Cook is very glad he signed the deal he did. Same for Nick Perry. The Packers reduced their financial risk at the time, and those guys put themselves in great position now by succeeding with "prove-it" deals. The Packers will have to pay plenty to keep them.

Mike from Kamloops, BC

Franchise compensation makes me curious. If a player is franchised for two first-round picks, what years do those picks start? The following two years? It also seems like a huge discrepancy in value. If Green Bay or the Patriots, who year after year draft late, sign a player like Bell, the compensation for Pittsburgh is not even close to the amount say if Jacksonville or Cleveland signs Bell. Can you provide detail as to how the compensation of signing franchise players occurs? Also does the franchise team have the opportunity to re-sign? Does this affect compensatory picks as well?

The two first-round picks would be for the next two years, starting with the 2018 draft if a franchise player were to sign elsewhere this year. Yes, the compensation could be significantly different depending on the club, which could influence whether or not the original team wants to match the offer from the other team (the non-exclusive franchise tag includes right of first refusal), or let the player go for the two first-rounders. But it usually doesn't get that far. I can't even remember the last time a team strongly considered giving up two first-rounders to sign another team's franchised player. If we ever see it happen again, I believe the two first-rounders cover the "compensatory picks" for that player and he does not factor into the formula.

Anton from Green Bay, WI

What kind of compensatory pick do you think the Packers will receive for Casey Hayward? I think the league leader in INTs is at least worthy of a fourth-rounder.

I would think so, too, but there's no hard-and-fast published formula that tells you exactly what you're going to get. It's like a box of chocolates. What's with all the Tom Hanks? What did a week off do to me?

Tony from Cave Creek, AZ

What about all unrestricted free agents need to enter the NFL Draft again? Where you are picked determines the salary pool. If you're not picked, you are free to negotiate with any team. Would make for an even more interesting NFL offseason and greater parity.

Would also make for a lot of unhappy football players who fought for years to get free agency in the first place and have only had it for 24 years. Good luck getting the union to agree to your plan.

Dave from Edina, MN

"I'm publishing the question because of Jared's perseverance. I'm pretty sure he submitted this same question for the past two weeks." Thanks to Wes, you will now receive the same questions every day for weeks.

He did that on purpose, right before he left. Wes may reward persistence, but I'm more likely to be annoyed by people who can't take a hint.

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