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What if the draft pick is better than the FA?

It's time to get ready for free agency


Norman from Sydney, Australia

Vic, I love the way the Packers go about the draft and usually don't follow the free agency hype. I did see Ladarius Green and Jaye Howard as potential bargain free-agent pickups. Your thoughts on them?

I think Green is an interesting guy. I expected him to be re-signed by the Chargers. Bargain? There are no bargains in the first week of free agency, and I see him as a first-week player. Early in the free agency process, the best you can do is acquire quality for a premium price.

Jonas from Tromso, Norway

When a team cuts a player, they save his hit to the cap, but you've long said if you pay it, you cap it. As the player was paid long ago, how come the team doesn't have to cap that money?

Whatever the team has paid has to pass through the team's cap. When you release a player, you only save the money you haven't paid him, unless it's guaranteed. If his salary for that season isn't guaranteed, it comes off his cap number. His remaining bonus amortization, however, accelerates. You paid it and you must cap it. If you're tight against the cap and the player you're releasing has significant bonus amortization remaining, you better wait until June 1 to release him.

Randy from Portage, WI

Vic, I saw something on an old "To Tell the Truth" from 1958 that shows how little pro football had national attention until well into the '60s. Kyle Rote, star player for the New York football Giants, was one of the other guys trying to make people think he was a government detective. He got votes for that. No one seemed to know he was a pro athlete of any sort. A few years later, Ray Nitschke was on "What's My Line" after the 1961 championship game. Mild-mannered Ray was not immediately recognized, but it didn't take them long to guess. How different from today when players get endorsement deals because they are recognized.

If Jeff Janis was on "What's My Line," Arlene Francis would have to disqualify herself because she'd know who he is. That's how different the NFL is today from the Rote and Nitschke days.

Mark from Bay City, MI

The Packers are on the clock. Ragland, Henry and Billings are all available. Who do you take?

Reggie Ragland would be a great fit for this team.

Andy from Omro, WI

Danny Trevathan's name has been out there for a while as someone the Packers could/should be interested in. Is there anyone in the draft that compares to him that might be on our radar?

There are several interesting inside linebacker prospects. We've talked a lot about Ragland and Darron Lee. I mentioned Beniquez Brown of Mississippi State. If you sign Trevathan and then one of those other inside linebackers is available when it's your turn to pick, and he's the top guy on your board, what do you do? Do you pass on him and take a player of lesser value because you signed an inside linebacker in free agency? Here's the question that really bothers me: What if the inside linebacker in the draft is a better player than the inside linebacker you signed in free agency? In my opinion, you have to be very careful of who and what you sign in free agency. For example, if I know it's a bad year in the draft for running backs, then I might sign one I like in free agency. I don't see this as a bad year for inside linebackers. I think one of quality will fall to the Packers along the way.

Belsha from Port Edwards, WI

I was reading an article on about "legal tampering." The article stated: "There are restrictions to this process. A free agent is not permitted to visit with a team other than their current team. Furthermore, a player cannot be in contact with a team that is not their own." How could Mario Williams legally visit with the Dolphins?

Mario Williams was released. He is not subject to the rules that govern the start of free agency.

Mike from Jacksonville, NC

In a 3-4 defense, what would you say is the more important position, defensive end or outside linebacker?

Generally speaking, it's outside linebacker.

Rae from Brentwood, CA

Vic, when you read for pleasure, a real book or newspaper, or electronic tablet?

Book. I lived in a neighborhood in Green Bay where there were book depositories that were open for passersby to reach inside and take one for free. When you were done reading a book, put it in that little box for someone else to read and then take out one somebody else had read and left for you. It's one of the best neighborhood programs I've ever seen.

Alan from Nixon, Ontario

It's draft day for Coach Vic. You know the QB you've had your eye on is an Andrew Luck/Aaron Rodgers caliber of quarterback, and you're sure of it. You want to trade for him. Do you pull a Ditka and trade every pick for him?

If I know I'm getting "The Man," you bet I do. My kingdom for "The Man."

Green Bay Packers K Mason Crosby hit 24 of 28 field goals and was one of five players to connect on all extra points this season. Photos by AP Images, Shawn Hubbard Photography, Jim Biever and Matt Becker,

Ron from Johns Creek, GA

Do you agree? The rules for missing a long field goal attempt should be changed to not penalize the team like it does. That would make the game more interesting with more long field goals. Perhaps placing the ball for the other team at the original line of scrimmage would be a start?

I don't agree. I love crunch-time field goal attempts – I think they're as thrilling as a touchdown and it's the under-pressure kick by which I judge kickers – but I'd almost consider restricting field goal attempts to the fourth quarter. Today's rules don't seem to be discouraging long field goal attempts in the least. I don't like that. It's lessening the importance of field position, especially as it relates to the art of punting. In my opinion, if field goal attempts were forbidden prior to the fourth quarter, we'd see more exciting punt-or-go-for-it decisions in the previous three quarters.

Kirk from Goodhue, MN

Can you remember a game as emotionally uplifting that ended in a loss as the Packers/Cardinals playoff game?

Emotionally uplifting? Gee, I wonder why you feel that way. I didn't feel that way. It felt awful. As I watched from the postgame interview room, it felt similarly awful to how it felt as I watched from the postgame interview room in Seattle 12 months earlier.

Chad from Tarpon Springs, FL

What role does fear play in football?

The fear of a player playing poorly and losing his job is, in my opinion, the greatest motivator in football.

Greg from Westerville, OH

Vic, your Bobby Layne comment made me nostalgic. As you know, Layne was the original party animal; his drinking escapades were legendary, especially the night before a game. He led the Lions to the NFL championship in 1952 and 1953, and was doing it again in 1957 when he broke his leg in the penultimate game of the regular season. Tobin Rote finished the last two games in Bobby's stead and then led them to the 1957 championship. Layne was then sold to the Steelers during the 1958 season, and he supposedly put a curse on the Lions, saying the team would not win a championship for the next 50 years. Not only has this curse come true, but the Lions have had the worst record of any NFL team in that 50-year span. Thanks for the memories.

It wasn't until I was older that I became aware of Layne's late-night ways. I worked with a reporter who ran with Layne, and I delighted in the reporter's stories of Layne's escapades. I can only imagine the lede I would've written: "Blood gushed from his nose and his eyes were bleary from an all-night binge, as Bobby Layne began his two-minute march to victory." I was born too late.

Nick from Evergreen, CO

Trade or free agent, I don't think anyone cares how we get these guys, just get them.

There's a big difference between signing a free agent and trading for a player. When you sign a free agent, you owe no compensation, but you're likely to realize a big bonus hit on your salary cap. When you trade for a player, you're likely to lose a draft pick, but his bonus amortization remains with team that traded him. I don't like losing the pick or paying the big bonus. I'll stick to the draft.

Armin from Koeflach, Austria

Vic, how do you judge the OL play last year? As the DL seems deep in the draft, does the OL play justify a first-round pick to smooth things out and address the DL later?

Where players fit on your draft board determine the position you'll pick. If an offensive lineman is at the top of your board, you pick him. This is a good year for big guys on both sides of the ball. It's likely a big guy will be at the top of the Packers' board when it's their turn to pick.

John from Green Bay, WI

My theory is Ted Thompson will try to work a Hundley (plus others) for J.J. Watt trade with Houston. At least that is what I'm hoping for.

You should stop hoping and come back to reality.

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