Kye from Logan, UT

All this talk about how Flacco’s new deal will affect Aaron’s contract got me thinking. I know Aaron is a ton better than Flacco and deserves to be paid a massive amount, however, what if Aaron were to say he doesn’t mind getting paid less? I feel this would gain him a ton more respect and that would give the Packers more cap room over the years to bring even more talent to an already talented team. We know he’s the best, we don’t need to pay him a huge amount to prove it. Your thoughts?

That is not only massively unfair and unrealistic, it’s massively naïve to even consider something like that for arguably the best quarterback in the game in the prime of his career. I’m stunned by how many of these types of comments I’m receiving.

David from Santa Fe, NM

So I just read that in year four of Flacco’s new contract his cap number is $29 million, which seems ridiculous. Is that where the Ravens are drawing a line in the sand and will try to restructure?

I haven’t had a chance to study his contract, yet, but if what you’re saying is correct, then I think you’re reading it correctly. The total worth of the contract would be meaningless because he’d be unlikely to reach the back end of it. Spiking the contract in year four would be a nice protection device for both sides. The Ravens get a chance to get out of the deal if Joe Flacco isn’t worth it, and Flacco gets a chance to get an extension that modernizes his contract so that it keeps up with inflation.

Nathan from Waukesha, WI

Vic, what is the best single Packers game you watched and why?

It’s probably the win over the Giants in New York in 2011. It was a tremendous football game, especially if you like offense, and it had late-season importance. The game at Minnesota this past season is also one I’ll never forget.

Charles from Port Saint Lucie, FL

If Jennings does leave in free agency, will the Packers be awarded a compensatory pick?

I would expect that Greg Jennings would yield a compensatory pick in the 2014 draft should he sign with another team in free agency this year.

Josh from Plainview, TX

Would a team ever draft a player just because they don’t want to play against him for years to come, even if the position is stacked?

I think that would be a good reason to draft a player because that probably means he’s someone the team rated at the top of their draft board. I feel very strongly about drafting from the top of your board so you don’t leave that player for your competition. Don’t try to fit draft picks onto your depth chart. Why not? Because you’re not clairvoyant and you can’t know who might get injured and what your depth chart will look like when the season is over. Who foresaw DuJuan Harris and Don Barclay at the top of the depth chart?

John from Carson City, NV

Michael Turner has been released by the Falcons. Yes, he’s 31 and his average per rush dropped last year. I know you prefer youth and speed over age and experience but, do you see the Packers looking hard at adding Turner to the roster or do they stay true to the BAP draft?

So, you acknowledge all of the downside information and risk, but you still want to sign the player because he was once a top running back? I struggle with that kind of thinking. The Marcus Allens are few and far between. Usually, when a player experiences a decline in his production, especially late in his career, it’s an irreversible trend. Every team has holes to patch, and you can’t patch them all with draft picks. At some point, all teams have to turn to free agency to find an older player who might provide a one-year fix at a position the team otherwise can’t address. I’m OK with that, and I think you’ll see the Packers do some business in free agency, but if I answered yes to every question I get about signing free agents, the Packers would have to sign every player in free agency. Yes, I believe the Packers are going to stay true to their draft philosophy for selecting from the top of their board and then plugging those picks into a draft-and-develop system.

Sohail from San Francisco, CA

Vic, is signing players like Greg Jennings and Charles Woodson and then trading them a bad idea?

Yes, it is, and here’s why: First of all, when you trade a player, all of the bonus money you paid him stays on the cap of the team that traded him. Even worse, it accelerates. So you’d be taking a big dead-money hit by doing what you’re suggesting. Secondly, I don’t think you’d find trade suitors. Packers fans love their players so much that they think every other team in the league wants them, but that’s just not the way it is. Draft picks are regarded as pieces of gold. When it comes to trades, it’s picks, not players.

Tony from Saint Paul, MN

In his recent Q&A with fans, Mark Murphy discussed the upcoming changes from the NFL Competition Committee, involving the use of the helmet as a weapon: “The biggest changes involve the use of the helmet. In recent years, more and more of our players are using the helmet as a weapon. In considering possible rule changes, we want to take the helmet out of play and get back to shoulder tackling and wrapping up with your arms.” That’s exactly what you have been saying, Vic. Do you have Mark Murphy’s ear?

It’s a no-brainer, Tony. It’s what has to be done. The NFL needs to condition player thinking to disregard the helmet. The league needs the players to play as though they’re not wearing a helmet. The problem is that the head is the most protected part of the body. I don’t know how the league is going to get players back to tackling with their shoulders and wrapping with their arms without mandating more padding for the upper body, especially for the shoulders. Good luck with that.

Tou from Eau Claire, WI

What’s the point of a tag and trade? I was so confused when the Packers did this to Corey Williams a couple of years ago. Isn’t the point of the franchise tag to keep the player?

That’s the spirit of the rule. Then there’s the reality of the rule, which is that the franchise tag is also a means for retaining a player’s rights. The point of tagging a player for the purpose of trading him is that by retaining your rights to him you’re able to get something for him in a trade, but you better make sure you can trade him. If you can’t, you can get stuck with a big cap number because once the player signs the tender, his money is guaranteed.

Dave from Oskaloosa, IA

Vic, what do you think would come out of Lombardi’s mouth if he was given a chance to talk to today’s teams and coaches?

I think he’d say the blocking and tackling have to improve, but then he’d find out there are no more two-a-days in training camp and he can only put his players in full pads for practice roughly once a week during the season, and the next thing that would come out of his mouth would be: Who made these rules?

Bob from Ridge Manor, FL

All these teams are redoing contracts, pushing money into the future. Isn’t this going to catch up to them eventually? If so why are they doing it?

They’re doing it because they lack discipline. In some cases, when their fans said the team needed to sign free agents, the team listened and now the bill has come due. In other cases, when popular older players reached the point in their careers that their skills were beginning to decline, the team signed them to new contracts and now that’s resulted in dead money on those teams’ caps, and they have to restructure contracts of other players to create room to house that dead money. Restructuring young core players is OK when kept to a minimum. When a team gets carried away with re-doing deals for the purpose of pushing money out and creating cap room in the current year, it’s dead man walking.

Caleb from Wasilla, AK

I recently saw a list of the NFL contracts that have had total max values of $100 million or more. Next to the contracts was the amount of money each player actually earned on that contract. Very few players earned much more than half of the max value. I get LTBE and NLTBE, and sort of get restructuring so money doesn’t count against the cap, but how does a team avoid paying more than half of the money in a contract like Drew Bledsoe’s?

Salary is extinguished when a player is cut, unless it’s guaranteed. A contract is only worth what’s guaranteed in it. Signing bonus is guaranteed. Anything in a contract that isn’t guaranteed is just a number.

Aidan from Manchester, England

Vic, what is your opinion of O.J. Simpson, purely as a football player?

He was the smoothest runner I’ve ever seen. He combined power and speed seamlessly. He looked like he was gliding, but he wasn’t gliding, he was accelerating. He ran with a minimum of movement. He ran with a natural lean that allowed him to run behind his pads at all times.

Sean from McFarland, WI

Do the Packers have a good shot at finding a difference maker at either three- or five-technique defensive lineman in this year’s draft?

You’ve been listening to Mike Mayock, haven’t you? Three technique is usually associated with a 4-3 defensive tackle; five technique refers to a 3-4 defensive end. This draft is loaded with them.

Tyler from Kenosha, WI

If you were a scout, what would be your three top criteria for grading a player?

Size, speed, competitiveness.

Adam from Washington, MO

If you could choose one word to describe each of the three fan bases you have covered, what would they be?

Steelers—wild, Jaguars—waiting, Packers—winsome.

John from Austin, TX

If trading isn’t allowed until March 12, how did the Alex Smith trade go through, or am I missing some technicality?

It hasn’t officially gone through. The Chiefs and 49ers have agreed to the trade and its terms, but the trade can’t become official until March 12. If Smith was scheduled to become a free agent on March 12, the two teams couldn’t do this because the 49ers would lose their rights to Smith at the exact time trading may resume.

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