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What one player do the Packers need?

Stay off the tracks and you won't get hit


David from Menasha, WI

If you could bring back one player from his prime to be on the Packers team next season, who would it be?

Doesn't the answer have to be Jordy Nelson? This team needs Nelson circa 2011-14, which are the years I watched him team with Aaron Rodgers to be one of the dominant pass-and-catch combinations in football. That's all the Packers need, a return of Nelson to the form that made him one of the league's top receivers. I trust the personnel department to find new talent to otherwise enrich the roster.

Kevin from Westport, WA

Vic, Danny Trevathan will likely hit free agency. I believe he could fill the role for a time at ILB so we can move Clay back outside and develop some talent without having to start rookies right away. Do you think he will cost more coming off a Super Bowl?

Of course he would. Should he hit free agency, his value will be at its highest. He was a sixth-round pick in 2012. Everybody talks about the Broncos' big free-agent signings, but Trevathan is the kind of bargain draft pick that helped make the Broncos a champion. Keeping him, however, will be difficult because of all those high-priced free agents the Broncos signed. It's a yin and yang situation that's difficult to overcome.

Ron from Ellensburg, WA

When did free agency become so popular in the NFL? Back in the old days, players would retire with the team that drafted them. But now it feels like players are lucky to play in one place for four or five years. Were the players' careers shorter, or was the culture just that different?

There was no unrestricted free agency in the old days. Teams were compensated for losing a free agent, and that's why teams didn't sign free agents; they didn't want to lose draft picks. Unrestricted free agency changed all of that. Now, money is the only cost, and that's why free agency is so popular. A lot of fans don't understand the cap well enough to respect its ramifications. They want their favorite team's weaknesses fixed and they want them fixed now, regardless of cost, and they view free agents as immediate upgrades. Sometimes they are. When they aren't, the cost can be outrageous.

Isiah from Portland, OR

Do you see more college safeties being converted to linebacker in order to counter the evolution of the tight end position?

Yeah, but it's not a new strategy. Carnell Lake even did it in reverse. He was a college linebacker who became a pro strong safety, where he covered tight ends. Don't think position, think function.

Greg from Wheaton, IL

Carolina faced very little adversity during the regular season. How much do you think that hurt them in the Super Bowl?

When you're 15-1 and breezed through the playoffs, you didn't get a lot of practice at coming from behind. Yeah, I think it hurt them. I like the teams that are tested and battle-hardened. The 2010 Packers are such a team.

Marcio from Santa Monica, CA

Vic, sorry to insist on the free agents issue. I believe there is a part of this you are not tackling. It seems to me it is in the nature of the draft and cap era that your team will eventually stink. If you continue to perform well, you continue to draft poorly. In time, your team will stink. Then you will perform poorly and draft well, until you perform well again. Our concern is we have "The Man" and the personnel to win a title and, without spending some bucks, we will not win a title. The cap train comes for all. These are your words. What am I missing from your logic?

The cap train doesn't come for all. It only comes for those who walk on the tracks. Stay off the tracks and you'll live to see another season.

Adam from Wausau, WI

Do you believe a team's success, besides having "The Man," is tied to how many productive players it still has under their rookie contracts?

Every team needs an affordable supporting cast that allows the team to pay its star players at their high levels. Young, developing draft picks allow that to happen. In my mind, a team needs a strong cast of "jars on the shelf," which is a metaphor for low-round and undrafted players ready to replace players that might be lost in free agency or to injury. When you don't have a "jar" ready to go, you need to patch in free agency. That's my view on roster building, especially as it pertains to salary cap health.

Adam from Wausau, WI

Did the Packers' draft-and-develop philosophy weigh in your decision to come to Green Bay?

I wasn't knowledgeable of the Packers' philosophy for roster building. When I accepted the job, the first thing I did was go to the Jaguars' general manager and ask him about the Packers. He said they were draft-and-develop all the way, and we both smiled. He knew how relieved I was to hear that news. It helps when you're reporting on a team whose beliefs are also yours.

Corey from Whitehall, PA

Is it too early for bold predictions next season? Mine is the WR unit heals up, as well as a slimmer and playing-with-a-chip-on-his-shoulder Eddie Lacy, to create one of the most prolific offenses known to mankind, paving the way for a record-setting Aaron Rodgers, who cements his case and legacy for the Hall of Fame. Boom!

If you can expect, and not make expectations your master.

Jerry from Wilmington, NC

Vic, how is it that it took coach Kubiak one year to do what coach Fox couldn't do in four? I'm surprised there isn't more discussion on this.

Maybe Coach Fox would've done it, too. Championship teams have a kind of musk about them. They give off a scent that says, "This is our year." I kind of got that feeling when the Steelers fumbled late in the playoff game in Denver. These Broncos made the big, game-changing plays. The team that lost to the Ravens had another kind of scent to it. Is it the coach or the players? That's the debate.

Paul from Burkhardt, WI

The Super Bowl did not change my view, as I believe draft-and-develop is the best approach, but it definitely reinforced the need to get Clay Matthews back on the outside. A dominant edge rusher changes the game like few other things. Thoughts?

I completely agree, but when I expressed that opinion at this time last year, I was vilified for wanting to move Matthews from inside linebacker, where he was a game-changer in 2014. I think it's of critical importance the Packers address inside linebacker so they can move Matthews back into a full-time sack role.

Matt from Pontiac, MI

Who was "The Man" on the '70s Steelers? I might go with Franco Harris.

They won the first two by running the ball. When the rules changed in 1978, they won the next two by throwing the ball. Joe Greene, however, was always "The Man."

Joe from Sheboygan, WI

Vic, those cool pants Rickie Fowler was wearing were jogging pants. Jogging is something you do while wearing high-top shoes, which were also being worn by him. He also arguably choked that tournament by playing too aggressive of a strategy. Simple logic suggests jogging pants make you bad at golf. How many pair do you own?

I don't think they make them in khaki, so I have that going for me, which is nice. Seriously, how could he leave the clubhouse dressed like that? Those pants looked like something the Coneheads would wear.

Gary from Davenport, IA

Vic, in case you were wondering, the Packers have scored a total of three points in their last three Hall of Fame Game appearances combined.

Start the worry.

Brian from Superior, WI

Did the Packers hand you pom-poms and a skirt when you were hired? Seriously, your inability to even acknowledge the Packers had a down year is sad.

If they had given me a choice between a skirt and Rickie Fowler's pants, I would've taken the skirt.

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