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When do you use the franchise tag?

There’s still time to sign Randall Cobb


Dave and Taters from Long Beach, CA

Vic, can a team afford to pay a star player like Cobb a bigger contract if the money is in "Likely To Be Earned" incentives, thus not making the salary baseline go up for the next player?

A star player in free agency or with free agency leverage is unlikely to sign a contract loaded with LTBEs. He wants guaranteed money. He wants signing bonus.

Lukas from Greven, Germany

Vic, how did expansion teams such as the Jaguars acquire their players for their first season in the league?

The Jaguars and Panthers came into existence just as unrestricted free agency was beginning, and the two teams used it to become formidable immediately. They each began with empty caps and in year two of their existences the Jaguars and Panthers were each in their respective conference title games. Free agency is the reason each team shot up as quickly as it did, and free agency is also the reason each team experienced hard times following their early success. I don't like that kind of roller coaster existence. Hopelessness shouldn't be a byproduct of success. Take care of the cap and the cap will take care of you. The draft is the means for taking care of the cap.

Lance from Chicago, IL

When it comes to good reporting, I appreciate a well-written story. I'm not sure that's still the majority opinion. How has the purpose of the interview changed since you first started reporting? Has it lost its uniqueness because there's more news available now than ever before?

Twitter was a game-changer for the media. We're now more concerned with the tweet than we are with framing a story. It's the evolution of my profession. The newspaper industry is in steady decline, but news websites and social media outlets continue to explode with readership. It's what the readers want.

Mike from Breckenridge, CO

Vic, guys with Suh's talent sometimes play their way off the team contract-wise. Do you ever wish the salary cap didn't exist so you could see teams keep their draft guys and see who ends up on top?

Chuck Noll said one of the reasons he retired is because he didn't want to coach in a system that produced a graduating class every year. In other words, he saw what free agency would do to the game – Chuck always had that great vision – and he decided it wasn't for him. He didn't want to teach players how to play and then see them leave to play for another team. At first, I didn't like it, either. Now, I kind of like free agency and the cap. It forces teams to identify their core players and keep them. A player of Ndamukong Suh's ability and importance should never be allowed to leave in free agency.

Bill from Altoona, PA

Vic, which is the correct answer? The Packers didn't franchise Randall Cobb because they need enough cap room to sign: a) Ndamukong Suh, b) Justin Houston, c) both.

They didn't franchise Cobb because they didn't want to dump the wide receiver franchise tender on their cap. The one-year hit for a wide receiver is devastating.

Dan from New York, NY

Vic, is there a specific reason the Packers did not use the franchise tag?

The franchise tag can be a cap killer, especially at certain positions. For example, all offensive linemen are effectively franchised at the price of a premier left tackle. Walter Jones was franchised three consecutive years, but that was OK because he was a premier left tackle. Everything begins and ends with the cap. Know the cap and you'll know the game.

Monica from Lisbon, ME

Vic, can the team still negotiate with Cobb after not using the franchise tag?

The Packers can still negotiate with Cobb, and I suspect they still are negotiating with him.

Braedon from Endicott, NY

With Aaron Rodgers winning the quarterback dominated MVP award, who wins the best player award? Does Rodgers come to mind in that category, as well?

Rodgers figures prominently into that discussion, but this is where I think we pay respect to J.J. Watt. Relative to the position he plays, his performance in 2014 would be equal to a quarterback throwing for 6,000 yards and 60 touchdowns. Relative to the position he plays, I think Watt turned in the most dominant performance in the NFL last season.

Nick from Centereach, NY

During the Favre era, I feel a lot of fans thought there would be no better. Then Aaron Rodgers comes out and plays on a level that is unmatched. Do you think when Rodgers decides to hang up his cleats his successor will play at a higher level?

I do not. I think Packers fans really need to enjoy what they have been blessed to witness at quarterback – I'm certainly enjoying it – because it's highly unlikely the next guy will be as good.

Conor from Kouts, IN

Vic, do you really think Davante Adams could step up and be our No. 2 wide receiver next year if we lose Cobb to free agency?

I haven't seen anything in Adams' game I don't like. I think he has star potential, especially when you consider who'll be throwing him the ball. Be that as it may, he's a very different type of receiver from Cobb. Adams impresses me as a boundary receiver, whereas Cobb works the middle of the field beautifully. I sincerely hope the Packers can do a deal with Cobb.

Lauren from Sparta, WI

I know there are seven more days to reach a deal with Randall Cobb, but I really wonder what is going through Ted Thompson's mind to possibly let a weapon like Cobb go to the open market. Any thoughts?

You're right, there's still plenty of time to do a deal with Cobb.

Paul from De Pere, WI

If there are only 23 players with first-round grades, somebody is going to be disappointed. Is there a recent draft in your recollection in which more than 32 players had first-round grades?

Last year's draft was the greatest draft in the history of the world, right? In years in which the class isn't real deep, teams drafting near the bottom of the order are at a distinct disadvantage. It hurts having to pay first-round money for a player on whom you don't have a first-round grade.

Chris from Eau Claire, WI

Why in the world would Cobb sign with the Packers now when, in a week, he can take offers from other teams and see how they stack up?

Why did Sam Shields sign with the Packers right before the start of free agency last year?

Adam from San Jose, CA

Vic, I suggest Mr. Greylorn take his little hearing aid and start following another team. Sorry, Greylorn, you are banned. There's only room for one grumpy old man in this column and he's writing it.

That's right. I'm the grump of this column.

Ryan from Noblesville, IN

Can you give a scenario in which it is good to put the franchise tag on a player?

If I have a top-five quarterback who's about to become a free agent, I'm putting the franchise tag on him. Why? Because you can't ever allow that kind of player to escape in free agency. Hey, you're gonna pay top-five money for him anyhow, so tag him, keep him and do a deal with him. A star quarterback is the very definition of a franchise player. He's the guy for whom the tag was created.

Alex from Orlando, FL

What is the likelihood of upgrading at tight end with a Julius Thomas in free agency?

He'll be pricey, especially in a year in which the draft doesn't appear to be loaded with tight ends. I happen to like what the Packers have at tight end. I think Richard Rodgers has huge upside as a receiver. In other words, it would not be my expectation for the Packers to sign Thomas, but I've been wrong.

Ben from Newark, DE

I noticed in a recent article that Green Bay and Seattle are the only two teams projected to have gained zero free agents that count against compensatory picks. Is it indicative of the same philosophy taken by Ted Thompson and John Schneider, or merely a coincidence?

I doubt it's a coincidence they believe in the same philosophy, but it's also not something either man invented, so it might be a coincidence they're the only teams in the league this year. The Packers lost James Jones, Evan Dietrich-Smith, Marshall Newhouse and C.J. Wilson in free agency. My guess is Jones and Dietrich-Smith will each return a sixth-round pick. Maybe Newhouse and Wilson will bring a seventh. Compensatory pick awards were announced on March 24th last year.

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