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Who will be this year's Ha Ha?

Weaknesses are a fact of life in the salary cap era


Matthew from Litchfield Park, AZ

Do the Packers take certain players completely off their draft board because of character issues?

Character and medical concerns cause all teams to red-dot players. If a prospect doesn't pass a team's background check or medical examination, why draft him?

Brian from Maple Grove, MN

Vic, continuity is such an important ingredient in being successful in the NFL. With all the coaching changes on the Packers staff, what is the likelihood the team takes a step back?

Those kinds of changes promote continuity. They've allowed Mike McCarthy to retain his coaches, instead of losing them to other teams. I don't think Coach McCarthy gets enough credit for being a manager. He's long been more than just a play caller; he's been a leader and a manager. He's developed a staff he trusts to call his team's plays. How's that for continuity?

Eric from Rensselaer, IN

Vic, what do you do about the quarterback situation if you are the Bears GM? I feel like sticking with Cutler may be their only option.

It might be. Quarterbacks are in short supply and this year's draft class doesn't appear to be deep at the quarterback position. Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota are the top guys, and there are major questions about them. After them, it's difficult to find a prospect with starter potential. Packers fans need to cherish what they've enjoyed at the position for a long time.

Andy from Tokyo, Japan

For the past few years, we've been able to identify a weakness and pretty successfully address making improvements. Yet, there's always something new to correct by the end of the season. Are these new weaknesses or were they just not as glaring because we had bigger problems?

There will always be weaknesses. It's that way because the salary cap demands it: You can't fix everything. Fix the defense by signing an expensive free agent? OK, but that money you spent is money you don't have to spend on the bottom of your roster where the special teams guys live. If you put the expensive free agent on special teams, the fans worry that he'll get hurt. Now your special teams are struggling and the fans say fire the coach. Hey, sometimes you just have to live with your weaknesses and overcome them by playing to your strengths. The notion that everything can be a strength is ridiculous.

Michael from Anchorage, AK

I read an article about how Arizona restructured Larry Fitzgerald's contract to provide more cap space. The GM was quoted as saying they could then be "aggressive and proactive when free agency starts." The owner, Bidwell, said he "hoped to acquire a high-profile free agent with the salary cap space freed up by reworking Fitzgerald's deal." I cringed.

It's robbing Peter to pay Paul, and it can work if you keep those instances to a minimum and Peter and Paul each play well, but if you do enough of those, and if Peter gets hurt and Paul's a bust, you'll hear the train whistle in the distance.

Randy from Oxnard, CA

How likely is Ndamukong Suh to sign with the Packers?

In my opinion, it's not likely.

Michael from Las Vegas, NV

Care to comment on Rick Spielman's curious statement regarding the media causing Bridgewater to fall in the draft? Since when has the media influenced teams' draft order?

I chuckled. I thought to myself, the media is invited to these pro days to help promote the prospects, but when they perform poorly and the media reports what it saw, then the media is to blame. It's laughable.

Richard from Saratoga Springs, NY

Vic, when a team is said to be targeting a draft prospect, what does that mean?

It means the team has fallen in love with a particular prospect, and needs to know where he fits and how they can get there.

Lawrence from Missoula, MT

Just watched "A Football Life" on the old Houston Oilers. Buddy Ryan should have been suspended for punching another coach, and I am amazed he got another job in football, as head coach, no less. Those are my thoughts. What are yours?

Buddy Ryan treated me very well when he was the Bears' defensive coordinator. I was working for a newspaper in Doug Plank's hometown and I often did stories on Doug. Buddy would intercept the message from the PR department, tell Doug to call, and then call me later and ask if I needed anything about Doug. Kevin Gilbride was the Jaguars' offensive coordinator when I covered the Jaguars. I loved his work and he was also very helpful to me. It's just football; it's nothing personal.

Jimmy from Salt Lake City, UT

The salary cap is a way of ensuring parity, right? If coaches are as important to team success as we are made to believe (Belichick, McCarthy), why are coaches not included in a team's salary cap calculations?

It's because they're not members of the players union, which means coaches' salaries aren't governed by the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Without a union to collectively bargain salaries, it's difficult to regulate salaries. I'd like to see some kind of cap on the number of coaches allowed on any one staff, but that might be difficult to enforce, too.

Kevin from Jacksonville, FL

Vic, my understanding is franchised players' salaries are 100 percent guaranteed. How is that different than signing bonus, which is also guaranteed?

Franchise-tag salaries must hit the cap in full in the year it's paid, so there's no residual loss of cap space in future years, as there is with signing bonus.

Al from Green Bay, WI

Vic, the Packers released Bostick and Dorsey this week. Can you explain the timing? Wouldn't it be better to check them out in training camp before cutting ties? What would be the downside?

Once you make a decision on a player, why wait to act on that decision? What if he gets hurt? Personnel departments are constantly evaluating talent. They're evaluating the talent on their roster and how it pertains to what's available in the draft and free agency, and what the team's plan is for fortifying its talent. A decision was made.

Curt from Oronoco, MN

Who is the fans' Ha Ha for this year? Or is it too early to tell?

It'll be someone at a need position. Inside linebacker, nose tackle and, possibly, tight end are the likely positions. I did a story yesterday on Maxx Williams. He could become the new Ha Ha. Fans always want to believe their team is one player away.

Dan from Grand Island, NY

You've made me a BAP believer. I think I just realized why I have struggled with this concept in the past. I had a static view of the talent each draft provides. Over the five years after Rodgers was drafted, three quarterbacks went in the late first round like Rodgers did: Brady Quinn in 2007, Josh Freeman in 2009 and Tim Tebow in 2010. BAP makes sense in each individual draft, but maybe even more sense when considering a few years in a row and the changing talent levels at each position in each draft.

It makes sense because you can't predict what your needs will be and if the draft will provide the players to address your needs in the years they surface.

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