Col from Ludlow, UK
Vic, with wide receivers being relatively easy to draft, how come they still command such big contracts in free agency?
Their ranks are plentiful, but everybody loves a touchdown maker.
Doug from West Sacramento, CA
Vic, how many prospects does Tony Pauline have first-round grades on?
He’s got 23 players with solid first-round grades, and then he has seven players with grades on the bubble that could go either way before draft day.
Brian from Maple Grove, MN
Vic, a number of NFL analysts have written that Clay Matthews will be playing more inside linebacker this year. What do they know the Packers don’t?
That would surprise me, but I’ve been wrong.
Tyler from Sheboygan, WI
As a high school football coach, the recent drop in numbers has been drastic and alarming. We keep hearing it’s because parents are concerned with head injury and CTE. Fellow coaches have concerns football, as we know it, may be on the way out. Is there a way to save our beloved game of confrontation? Or will the game continue to morph into something that will ultimately be unrecognizable to us in 20 years?
Football appears to be shrinking on the amateur level and I would expect that trend to continue until the game becomes non-contact at the youth level. Until that happens and the trend reverses, the question would seem to be this: Can the NFL and major college football find the talent it needs to maintain football’s popularity? I think the answer is yes. I’ve never considered football to be a game that needs to be played from a young age to understand it and be successful at it. I’ve covered top players that were college wrestlers and didn’t play college football. Carlton Haselrig is one of the most naturally gifted football players I’ve ever covered and he didn’t play college football.
Michael from Toronto, Ontario
Vic, if Cobb walks in free agency, do you think Ted Thompson would head out back and shake the veteran WR tree? Who might fall out?
The Packers have their own wide receiver tree. What’s not to like about Davante Adams? What Packers fan isn’t gaga about Jeff Janis? I want the Packers to re-sign Randall Cobb. I think he’s a fantastic player and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching him play. Cap discipline, however, must be maintained. You put a dollar value on a guy and you don’t go above it. If you begin to chase, you’re letting your competition run your cap. That’s a big don’t do.
Greg from Glen Carbon, IL
The Falcons released Steven Jackson. Remember how desperately we wanted him as a free agent? All we got was Lacy.
If you draft well, you’ll never regret the money you didn’t spend in free agency.
Chuck from Rockford, IL
Vic, it looks like we are not going to sign Cobb to a contract? Why is it we seem to not put very much value in WR? Jennings, Jones, now Cobb, even going back to Lofton? As a stockholder, is there anything we can do about it?
I’m not seeing reason for regret. I would suggest that as a stockholder you have faith in those running the company.
Ben from Baraboo, WI
Elliot, Thomas, Hubbard, Bradford: There are your ILBs. They’re already on the roster. Add in potential draft picks McKinney, Kendricks, Perryman, Dawson and Anthony and ILB should have a reasonable expectation of getting addressed/remedied.
When a team clears the deck at a position as the Packers have at inside linebacker, and focuses attention on that position as the Packers have at inside linebacker this year and at safety last year, you should expect the position will get fixed. You can’t do that at every squeaky-wheel position every season, but you can target one and fix it.
Matthew from Eau, WI
Do you think the Packers will try to aim to free more space up for the salary cap?
It’s not just about salary cap space, it’s also about a team’s payroll. One position can’t be allowed to dominate the payroll, unless it’s quarterback and you have a really good one. When you sign a player to a contract, you set the contract bar for the other players on your team at the position. A team’s payroll must make sense. It has to be part of a long-term strategy. You can’t throw money around because you like this guy or that guy. Your contracts have to complement each other.
Jon from Fargo, ND
I believe in draft and develop, but what about a guy like Rolando McClain at ILB? He’s 25 and is an unrestricted free agent.
OK, here’s what you do. Set a value for him. Decide what you’ll pay him. When free agency begins, see where that value you’re willing to pay compares to what McClain is receiving in offers from other teams. If you’re low, will you chase? If you’re high, you’re overpaying.
Curtis from Brookfield, WI
Vic, here is my feeling on re-signing players such as Bulaga and Cobb. Both are great players and they both make lots of money. So, do you want to play for a winning team or play for the money? That’s how I look at it. I’ll never be a pro and make that kind of money, but my dream would be to be on a winning team no matter what I make. Every year I watch and see who is a player or a money player.
Football is their profession. It’s unreasonable of you to expect young players climbing the ranks of their profession to not pursue the highest reward. Frankly, I don’t think it would be good for the game for players to not pursue the highest reward. I want to watch players that possess that kind of competitiveness.
Mark from North Olmsted, OH
Vic, I think Packer nation needs to relax about the inside linebacker position. They obviously have a plan to replace them in either the draft or free agency. Your thoughts, please.
My inbox is a place of great anxiety. I heard weeping coming from the kitchen table last night. Then I heard voices calling to me: “Vic! Get in here, Vic.” Yeah, my inbox.
Pinuccio from Moorestown, NJ
The face value of a contract means little since most players don’t get the face value. The expected contract value is a term tossed around by NFL execs and salary cap managers and is supposed to forecast the real earnings and cost. Why aren’t the expected costs of a player more frequently talked about? Is its complexity beyond the scope of the listener? Is this data kept secret by each team or is there just no interest?
I think fans have a much better understanding of the salary cap and contracts than they did 10-15 years ago, but I wish the former players on NFL Network and ESPN would talk as expertly about the cap and contracts as they do about Cover Two. The only thing in a contract that has real worth is the guaranteed money and the next year’s salary. I remember it being announced Drew Bledsoe signed a contract worth $100 million. When I looked at the structure, I knew he wouldn’t see half of that hundred. I think he saw a lot less than that.
Jimm from Huntsville, AL
Vic, do you need two thumpers in the middle or just one?
Levon Kirkland is the best 3-4 inside linebacker I’ve covered. If you have a player of his ability, the other inside guy can be more of a chase-type defender.
Kyle from Arlington, VA
You mentioned scouts, not scouting, the other day. Are there any specific qualities scouts need to learn/develop to be a good scout?
The best scouts I’ve known have been guys with vision for how a prospect might fit in the pro game. That’s your crystal ball. The best scouts have one.
Paul from Sheboygan, WI
You often praise the Packers scouts and this brought a question to mind. As a scout looking at a few players in a game, you notice a freshman that has some very outstanding talent. Do you continue to watch him over his next three years, or do you just keep his name and look at him in his last year or two?
You remember him. I like to tell a story one of my favorite scouts told me about going to Alcorn State to scout a couple of players. While he was there, he noticed a big, good-looking freshman quarterback throwing passes. “Who dat?” the scout asked the head coach. It was Steve McNair. The great ones jump out at you.
Johnny from East Palatka, FL
Thank you, Mike Spofford! That was the best “Video Ask Vic” ever.
I loved it.