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What 'redshirt' player will make biggest impact?

We’re being overly dramatic about Chris Borland’s retirement


Marek from Kosice, Slovakia

What will Chris Borland's legacy be 3-5 years from now? Will he disappear from our collective conscience as just another guy who walked out of the game because he lost the desire to play it, or will he be the chosen one, the dark lord of modern era over-sensitivity that single-handedly destroyed professional football as we know it?

Something between those two extremes is probably the answer. Here's another question: Is there any chance Borland's fear of head injury will have further advanced our romantic fascination with the danger we love to associate with football?

John from Sugar Land, TX

Vic, what's the theory behind compensatory picks? If a team allows a player to go into free agency, why should they be rewarded?

The thinking was and still is that teams losing players in unrestricted free agency should be compensated in some manner for the time they spent developing that player's talent and contributing to his worth in free agency. The players agreed and compensatory picks became part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the owners and the players. Compensatory picks are a way of balancing the scales between the draft and free agency. You don't want a league of teams waiting to cherry pick other teams' players. If that happens, you'll lose the army of scouts identifying the best college football talent. The draft is as important to the league as it is to each of its teams. It's the portal through which young talent enters the league, and that portal must always be protected. Compensatory picks help protect it.

Keith from Thurmont, MD

Too much focus on the offense. If the Packers had focused on defense in the draft over the last three years, Aaron Rodgers would only need three scores a game to win. Now we just sit back and watch playoff loss after playoff loss because our defense is weak. Your thoughts?

Since 2012, the Packers' drafts have been heavy on the defensive side of the ball. The last three first-round picks have been on defense. Secondly, last year's defense was not weak. In fact, at season's end I thought it was the Packers' calling card.

Andy from Abbotsford, WI

Do you think maybe J.J. Watt is playing in the wrong position, like you have said you believed Peppers had been?

I think Watt might even fit better as a chase tackle in a 4-3, but players such as Watt and Julius Peppers are living proof it's players, not plays, because they are going to succeed regardless of the position they play.

Drew from Medford, WI

I read the Bears are switching to a 3-4. What is the reasoning for seeing the 3-4 slowly replacing the 4-3?

I'm not ready to say the 3-4 is replacing the 4-3, but I prefer the 3-4 for a couple of reasons: 1) I think it offers more rush and cover creativity. 2) It provides a larger pool of pass rushers from which to draft.

Roger from Auburn, CA

Vic, yesterday you said the Eagles were the biggest story of free agency. Is that because you're curious how the extreme makeover will turn out?

That's it. This is a copycat league. If the Eagles were to hit a home run with Chip Kelly's scheme and personnel aggressiveness, it might become a trend.

Weston from Lake Geneva, WI

Adrian Hubbard has been a player that has interested me since the Packers signed him. Do you believe he has the skills and build to make a run at one of the inside linebacker spots?

I see him more as a space player than as a banger in the box. Hubbard has the kind of length and fluid movement personnel people love. He'll be interesting to watch in training camp.

David from McHenry, IL

The Packers had an excellent draft in 2014. That draft has already yielded four starting-caliber players in Clinton-Dix, Davante Adams, Richard Rodgers and Corey Linsley. It also added five virtual redshirt players in Thornton, Bradford, Goodson, Abbrederis and Janis. Which one of those redshirt players do you expect to make the biggest contribution in 2015?

Khyri Thornton, Carl Bradford and Demetri Goodson play positions at which there would appear to be need. They'll each have an opportunity to make a splash. My immediate expectations for Jared Abbrederis and Jeff Janis are on special teams.

Stephen from Roswell, GA

What are the financial implications of a young player retiring after a short career? Does Borland get any more money or is his contract nullified and he gets nothing more? Does he get any retirement money from the NFL?

I don't see an injury settlement and he didn't play long enough to receive a pension, so, unless there's guaranteed money in his contract, pay days have passed. Plus, he might have to forfeit three-fourths of his $617,436 signing bonus.

Wallace from Jacksonville, FL

Vic, will Chris Borland's announcement possibly be looked back upon as the day things changed for NFL players?

Things hadn't already changed with the 2011 CBA? Have you watched a training camp practice? Seen any two-a-days lately? Hey, this league has been proactive in advancing player safety over the past few years. In my opinion, the league has been dangerously proactive in softening the game. I know my inbox loves drama, but I think it's gone a little too far with this drama.

Jeff from Farmington, NM

Vic, looking at player rankings for the draft on the web, three are three ILB at 37, 38 and 42. Do you think the Packers will trade back?

There's no uni-board. One team's board isn't another team's board, and I don't think you'd find a lot of agreement with Mel Kiper's or Tony Pauline's boards. The draftniks are for amusement only. Did the Packers have Richard Rodgers ranked where the draftniks did? I can remember Packers fans being terribly upset the Packers drafted a player two rounds ahead of where the draftniks said he fit. How'd that turn out?

Joe from Edmonton, AB

Vic, I'm all for BAP drafting and glad that is the Packers' philosophy, but I want Vic Beasley. He would be a terror opposite Matthews.

You're dreaming.

Chase from Fort Riley, KS

I'm not saying we need a WR, but I hear there's not a lot of interest in veterans such as Michael Crabtree, Hakeem Nicks, Reggie Wayne and Wes Welker. What do you say the chance is the Packers sign one? I'm guessing your response will be "there's a reason there's not much interest in them."

My response is you've got wide receiver fever.

Brian from Fond du Lac, WI

Vic, if given the chance at a younger age, would you become the next Junior Seau? Would hindsight or foresight affect your decision?

That's a question a prospective football player shouldn't have to answer. The helmet is the key to the future of football. We need a helmet hero.

Michael from Toronto, ON

Vic, I believe Ted always has a plan, but losing House and Williams has me a little worried about our secondary. Is help on the way, or is it already on the roster?

It's both. Young talent, such as Demetri Goodson, is on the roster waiting for a chance to show what it can do. This is also the help-is-on-the-way time of the year.

Tom from West Bend, WI

How tempting is it for a GM on the hot seat to think short term to save his job?

Wouldn't you? Job insecurity at the top can cause problems. Patience and continuity are virtues in this business.

Trent from Mishawaka, IN

Ndamukong Suh's signing bonus cap hit is spread evenly over the first five years of his deal, instead of all six years. Why is that?

That's as far as the cap rules permit signing bonus to be pushed out.

Wayne from West Bend, WI

Well, Vic, I did indeed give up my favorite sport, NFL football. The game has changed so much that it's nothing more than just a different brand of Arena Football. I'm a purist, and that game is long gone. I stopped watching about two-thirds of the way through the season. I heard the Patriots won the Super Bowl. I'm truly done with the sport and didn't even go into withdrawals. I hope the Packers do great things; I just won't be watching, since that brand of football is not what I enjoy.

You'll be back, I hope.

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