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Rare occurrence in restricted free agency over the weekend


The regular writer of "Ask Vic," packers.com Editor Vic Ketchman, is taking some time off. Staff Writer Mike Spofford is temporarily filling in to answer your "Ask Vic" questions.

Eric from Keene, NH

One session and you're tired? What were you expecting? You know the class is never as well behaved for the substitute as they are for their regular teacher.

Ain't that the truth.

Neil from Montreal, Quebec

I enjoy Vic's honest opinions, and do not understand why some readers object to his comments. Do they only want "Midwest nice" comments, or do they want to hear something substantive? I hope that Mike will also 'shoot from the hip,' because we may all learn something.

I'll give it to you straight, that I can promise you. As a Wisconsin native, I may be too "Midwest nice" for your tastes, but I'll try to get a zinger in here or there. Or I'll just let someone else do it for me.

Nick from Peterborough, Ontario

When has Rodgers ever been clutch? How about setting up the game-winning field goal two seasons ago vs. the Giants in three plays with less than a minute to go? And in the Super Bowl season, marching down the field for a last-minute touchdown to tie the game vs. the Falcons (who then were led by Ryan for a game-winning field goal)? And the season before that, when they played the Steelers, Rodgers led the Pack down the field for what would have been a game-winning touchdown if not for a Roethlisberger TD as time expired. These three games are off the top of my head. I'm sure there are many more examples. Rodgers has plenty of "clutch" in him. Often the Packers are the team being chased, so we don't see his comeback abilities.

I figured the comment by Mitchel in Columbus, IN, last Friday would crank things up. Nick's was by no means the only response. Sorry, Mitchel, I had to do it to someone.

Samuel from Cedaredge, CO

Mike, what is your one-word description of Packer fans?


Steve from Eau Claire, WI

Mike, are there any players you think the Packers might be interested in drafting at 26 that the Vikings might also be interested in and snatch up at 23 or 25?

I'd be lying to you if I said I was versed enough in individual players to comment meaningfully, but with a broader lens I see this: The Packers could use reinforcements on the defensive line, both for now (Worthy) and the future (Pickett). The position has long been a strength for the Vikings, but Jared Allen and Kevin Williams aren't getting any younger. This draft is said to be deep in quality defensive linemen, potentially making top-tier players available in the latter third of the first round. I know the two teams play different defensive schemes, but still …

Bob from Washington, DC

Hi Mike, Vic wrote recently about the Cowboys trading a boatload of picks to get Tony Dorsett. Dorsett was a great back, but they won the Super Bowl in his first year, never to return until the Big 3 showed up after Dorsett retired. Was the trade a bad idea then? I think it definitely would be now.

I wouldn't judge the Dorsett trade that way. After the Cowboys won that Super Bowl in Dorsett's rookie year, they went to the playoffs seven times over the next eight seasons, losing in the Super Bowl in Dorsett's second year and then losing three straight NFC title games (1980-82) to three different teams. Any franchise would kill for that many legitimate championship opportunities, then or now.

Tom from Grand Rapids, MI

Pretty depressed. Sure seems to me like the Packers have given up on 2013. Lots of holes, not enough draft picks. Agree? My Lions friends are gloating.

Yup, the Packers have given up. Your Lions friends have it all figured out.

Gary from Port Jefferson, NY

What's happening with Nick Perry? I've seen mock drafts with us picking an outside backer. Have they written him off?

Yeah, he's been written off. Too many penalties. Hits like the one on Andrew Luck last season won't help the defense. (OK, I'm terrible at this. I gotta play it straight.) I don't have an update on Perry's comeback from the wrist injury, which many of you have asked about, but Mike McCarthy sure sounded excited about him in his comments from the owners' meetings last month. As for the draft, the bottom line is this – with Walden and Zombo gone, the Packers have only three outside linebackers on the roster with game experience in Matthews, Perry and Moses. Another reader (Chris from Green Bay) asked about Brad Jones possibly moving back outside, but last season McCarthy talked about Jones looking "natural" inside and that he'd finally found a home. Jones could obviously play outside in a pinch, but full-time I don't see it. Outside linebacker is the premier playmaking position in the 3-4 and more depth is a must.

Todd from Winona, MN

My kid always asks me why Rodgers calls out "3-19" before the ball gets hiked. Is there any significance to 3-19? Why 3-19 and not 2-19, etc.? I can answer most of his questions, but this one I have no idea. Help me so this 11-year-old Packer fan will get an answer to his question.

I get this question a lot, and I don't know if this answer will satisfy, but here goes. I believe (and don't take my word as gospel, please) Rodgers is saying "Green-19" not "3-19" as part of his cadence. Another one I've heard him use often is "Blue-58," which can sound like "2-58." I believe it's part of the audible system in this offense, but as such, when he says it, it could mean something or it could mean nothing. Audible systems have live calls and dummy calls. It could be either or both on any given snap. If I tell you any more than that, I'm getting hunted down and so is your 11-year-old.

Eric from Erie, PA

Just read the article about compensatory picks and noticed that Ted seems to always have more than seven picks and never seems to lose any to free agency pick-ups. I just realized I can't remember a draft in which the Pack traded a first-round pick for a free agent. Can you tell me when the last time was?

Unless a free agent is restricted and tendered the requisite offer by his current club, or unless a free agent is given the franchise tag, picks aren't traded for free agents because a team owes no compensation to another team for signing an unrestricted player. But if you're asking when was the last time the Packers traded a high draft pick for a player on another team, you'd have to go back to 2003, when Green Bay sent a second-round pick to Philadelphia for Al Harris. A first-rounder? That would be 1992, when the Packers had two first-rounders due to a 1991 draft-day trade with Philly. That second first-rounder, No. 17 overall, was sent to Atlanta for Brett Favre.

Dennis from Indianapolis, IN

Mike: Well, I bet Vic was shaking his head at the Steelers letting the Pats negotiate the Sanders contract for them. It doesn't appear to happen that way does it? Or does it happen more than we really notice? Thanks for doing a good job in Vic's absence.

Thanks Dennis. I think with those comments Vic was referring to the use of the transition tag, which has basically ceased to exist for the reason you both mention. This situation was different. Emmanuel Sanders was a restricted free agent who was tendered at original-round compensation by the Steelers, and he got a one-year offer from the Patriots for nearly twice the tender offer ($2.5 million vs. $1.3 million). The Steelers decided to match it, and they can still work out a long-term deal with Sanders before he becomes unrestricted next year. It was a rare occurrence, though. Sanders' agent said he was the first RFA to receive an offer sheet from another team in three years. Had he not received an offer, the Steelers would have obviously saved some money on Sanders this year.

Claus from Brondby, Denmark

The compensatory pick article made me think. Basically, the NFL gives a bonus to teams with a net-loss of talent (as per their formula), but no penalty to teams with a net gain of talent. Are they actively trying to make teams let players go in free agency, or is there some other reason for this incentive imbalance?

It's certainly not as punitive as baseball, where a team like the Brewers now has surrendered its first-round pick in order to sign pitcher Kyle Lohse. If you want a "penalty" for those with a net gain of talent, I think you have to view it as not getting draft picks while their competition is adding some. But I don't think the league is trying to encourage or discourage anything.

Andrew from Rockford, IL

I think Andy Reid may have been the "eye for great quarterbacks." He was an assistant coach in '92, the year Favre came to the Packers, and was named the quarterbacks coach in '97.

You may be onto something, but make no mistake, the Favre move was all Ron Wolf. With the Jets, he was going to draft Favre at the top of the second round with the 34th overall pick in '91, but the Falcons got him at 33 (and Wolf took QB Browning Nagle instead – how's that for a letdown?) The other significant quarterbacks drafted in that time frame were Mark Brunell, Matt Hasselbeck and Aaron Brooks, but Brooks was drafted after Reid left for Philly, so I'd again lean toward Wolf. He also drafted QBs Jay Barker, Kyle Wachholtz and Ronnie McAda back then, who didn't work out, the point being that Wolf never stopped stockpiling and trying to develop at that position. The current Packers aren't much different, except that they found Graham Harrell as a street free agent and didn't spend a draft pick on him.

Dustin from Dell Rapids, SD

Do you think the Packers would be hesitant to draft a left tackle in the first round for the third time in four years?

Not at all, if the right guy is available. As Vic has said many times with his Jaguars/Ravens story, who doesn't need Jonathan Ogden? A lot of folks are sending in questions about Derek Sherrod, and I'm not avoiding them. All I can tell you is I don't know where things stand with him. When the preseason begins, it will have been 20 months since he played a football game. Center Mike Flanagan was a third-round pick in '96 who needed more than two full years to come back from his awful broken leg. He was injured in his rookie preseason and didn't see the field in the regular season until Dec. 1998. There's been no timetable put on Sherrod. All we can do is wait and see if he's on the field when OTAs begin.

Kyle from Grand Forks, ND

One reason I am fine with cameras in the locker room at halftime is the use for future NFL Films products. In the Packers 2010 Super Bowl episode of "America's Game" they have Woodson recount what his speech at halftime was with an image of a sign that said something to the effect of no cameras in the locker room. I would love if that episode had actual video of what he said to the team that day. But if the camera was there, would he have said it?

That is the $64 million question, isn't it? Hey, both Dakotas heard from on the same day. I don't know why I felt compelled to point that out, but I did.

Ryan from Fredericton, New Brunswick

Mike, yesterday Vic guaranteed that he reads every question. I know he has written that he does before, but I think it's important that he said that. Can you give us the same guarantee?

Absolutely. I am reading every question, just as I did when I filled in for Vic for two weeks last summer. Honestly, the toughest part about writing this column is choosing which questions to answer. Packers fans have many very insightful thoughts, but they can't all be used. I discovered the same difficulty – though it's a great problem to have – when I started doing a live weekly online chat last season. I look forward to bringing the chat back this season as well. Y'all ask questions that make me think, and I like that. I know Vic likes it, too.

William from Savannah, GA

Here's a question Vic would appreciate. A lot of people are expecting the Packers to trade down to collect more picks. It seems to me that the going price to trade up this year is going to be a lot less than in previous years. So why not trade up to somewhere around No. 5 and get someone that will keep Rodgers' jersey clean for the next 10 years? If you believe that Joeckel or Fisher is the next coming of Tony Boselli or Anthony Munoz, why not invest in protecting your investment - the huge contract that Rodgers is going to receive. This might be a good year to swim upstream.

I understand your argument, and you're not the only reader who has made it. Rather logical. Except that if a player of that caliber is available at that spot, I'm not convinced it will be any cheaper to move up. Plus, with only eight picks, several positions that could use attention, and the reported depth of this draft in the second and third rounds, I don't think this is the year to make that move.

Mark from La Crosse, WI

I don't like all the hassle of contract signings. Has the NFL ever considered having set salaries for positions? (Example: starting QB, backup QB, punter, etc., all having the same pay regardless of what team they are on). Then the incentives could be team incentives. There is precedence for this with the rookie pay scale. This would reduce the movement of players from team to team.

Paul from De Pere, WI, had a similar thought about salary caps for specific positions. That all sounds great, in theory. Now, good luck getting DeMaurice Smith and the players' union to agree to those ideas.

Travis from Edgerton, WI

Afternoon, Mike. I've been reading through some of the "Prospect Primers" and am curious if these are random athletes, or potential draft picks Thompson has met with/brought in?

Thanks for checking out the "Prospect Primer" page and its videos. It's something new we decided to try this year. There's no connection between the players selected and any specific draft visits the Packers have conducted. Our tireless video crew simply recorded as many media interviews as possible during their trip to the scouting combine, and we have combined those interviews with college footage and a little research to provide a quick snapshot of the player. Hope you've enjoyed that addition to the site this year.

Joe from Virginia Beach, VA

Aaron Rodgers stated he would like to get a deal done by April 15th. Well, today is April 15th, and I know it's early in the day, but can we expect any news or headway? Do you think we should be worried if nothing gets done before the draft?

I'm not sure Rodgers said anything about a specific date. That may have just been media speculation because the Packers' offseason program starts today. But it's no time to worry. The Packers have the cap room to get the deal done this year, and I have every confidence they will.

Joe from Bloomington, IN

Best wishes to Vic and here's to hoping this column doesn't put you in the body shop, too! Speaking of which, are any of the players around rehabbing or working out?

Several players have been rehabbing regularly downstairs all winter/early spring. Today is the official start of offseason workouts, so a ton of players have now returned. I'll have some thoughts from McCarthy on the offseason program in a story later today.

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