Michael from Milwaukee, WI
Do you think there will be any surprises with a player being released?
The Packers have a clean salary cap that will allow them to make well-considered decisions. I don’t see them having to release somebody to get under the cap, if that’s what you mean. I’m not expecting a surprise, but I’m also not privy to their player evaluations.
Ted from Madison, WI
What is your take on the controversy surrounding Gregg Williams’ so-called bounty system? Is this simply one more example of NFL football not being for the well-adjusted, or has a line been crossed by Williams?
This is a developing story that I want to allow to develop fully. What I need to know is if this alleged bounty system was just tough talk, or was it real.
Zac from Eagle, ID
If the league really wanted to punish a team, could they lower the cap amount for that team?
I can’t recall the league doing that to punish a team and I wouldn’t expect the league to do it, even in the most severe cases. The precedent for punishing offending teams has always been to make them forfeit draft picks and/or pay a fine. Even when the 49ers and Broncos were found to have been in violation of the cap rules, their cap amounts were not decreased. Frankly, I think the loss of draft picks is the harshest of penalties. By decreasing a team’s cap amount, the league might even be helping the offending team because it would have to resort solely to the draft for talent acquisition.
Patrick from Hopkins, MN
I really like what you and Mike Spofford are doing with “point, counterpoint.” The latest on the franchise tag interested me. What do you like more, arguing a position you agree with or disagree with? I enjoy trying to argue a point that I don't agree with. It adds a little extra challenge.
You’re right, it does cause you to dig deeper for information and learn more about the side with which you don’t agree. I took the “no” side on the franchise tag debate because I’ve had a little more experience with the franchise tag, and because I was covering the NFL and have a strong memory of when the franchise tag was created and what its intent was. It was supposed to be used for quarterbacks; now we’re using it for kickers. I think the franchise tag can be a valuable tool for teams to use, but I also think every attempt should be made to avoid it, because of the enmity it can create. I also think it’s used too often manipulatively, and that wasn’t the original intent, either. There’s the letter of the law and then there’s the spirit of the law, and too often the letter of the law allows us to violate the spirit of the law, which has happened with the franchise tag. The intent of “point, counterpoint” is to merely create a two-sided debate that will stimulate thought among the readers. “Point, counterpoint” is for the readers to debate. Mike and I just try to give you food for thought.
Ian from Duluth, MN
Is there any situation in which a team has used the franchise tag on a player in consecutive years? Is it even possible to use it on the same player multiple years?
Walter Jones was franchised three consecutive years. In each of those years, he skipped training camp before reporting to the team and getting his full pay. That was the example I was using in my “point, counterpoint” argument. As it turned out, Jones earned nearly $18 million from the franchise tag, and I can remember a story claiming the franchise tag paid Jones more money than he would’ve earned had he signed a long-term contract the first year he was franchised. So the franchise tag didn’t work for the Seahawks, and I’m not sure that any player can ever be the best he can be by missing three consecutive training camps, so what good was the franchise tag?
Jim from Winterville, NC
Did Williams have a bounty program in 2008 with the Jags and did anyone collect?
There was no talk of anything like that. The Jaguars were 21st in points allowed, 17th in yards allowed and registered only 29 sacks. It was not the kind of defense for which Gregg Williams is known, which is to say it wasn’t a pressure defense. That team is one of the best examples of the “players, not plays” mantra. Williams was hired with the intent of installing a pressure defense, which everyone believed would result merely because Williams is renowned for coaching pressure defenses. It didn’t happen, however, because he didn’t have the players that could execute his schemes, and his schemes had to be abandoned at midseason and a more passive approach adopted.
Cory from Fort Atkinson, WI
So I was just reading about QBER and the top QB prospects coming out in this year’s draft. I guess Russell Wilson was second only to RG3 and for common opponents Wilson more than doubled his QBER compared to Luck, Moore, Foles and Osweiler. Wilson had a really good Senior Bowl and combine. I don't see any reason other than height, which can be overcome, for him not to be drafted higher than the third or fourth round. So my question to you is what are your thoughts on him and do you see the Packers drafting the great player?
I don’t know what the Packers think of him and, as I’ve said, they’re not going to share their thoughts with the media because scouting is a stealth business. Here are my thoughts on Wilson: His athletic ability can allow him to overcome his lack of height. He throws a nice short to intermediate length pass – there were, however, some accuracy issues at the Senior Bowl – but I saw evidence at the Senior Bowl that his arm has range limitations. On one particular play, down the sideline on which I was stationed, Wilson appeared to allow a receiver an extra beat to get deep, for the purpose of showing off his deep arm. The ball then fluttered and fell woefully short of its target. I think he’ll have to be a short-area quarterback. If that’s true, then he would almost have to play in a West Coast type of rhythm offense. Higher than the third or fourth round? The draftniks with whom I’ve spoken consider him to be more of a candidate for the late rounds and, possibly, undrafted free agency.
Eric from Wauwatosa, WI
I just read that the Saints used an exclusive rights franchise tag on Drew Brees, which apparently means that other teams can't negotiate with him regardless of whether he signs the tender. Am I misunderstanding this, or are there multiple types of franchise tags even for unrestricted free agents?
The Raiders used the exclusive rights franchise tag on Nnamdi Asomugha. Yes, an exclusive rights franchise player is not permitted to sign with another team. In exchange for those exclusive rights, the team tendering him agrees to pay the player at a potentially higher tender. He still gets paid at the average of the top five salaries at his position in the league, but those top five salaries include any that are negotiated between now and the end of the RFA signing period, which occurs just before the draft. So, if an Aaron Rodgers type of quarterback was to sign a new deal between now and the end of the RFA signing period, the Saints would be on the hook for a lot more money.
Chris from Apple Valley, MN
What's your opinion on Vinny Curry after he ran the 40 at the combine?
He’s likely going to be an end, and I think he’ll be a very good one. I think he compares favorably to Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila.
Bob from Colby, KS
In your opinion, who is America's team?
I’ve always thought Notre Dame is America’s team. They’re the only one I know of that has its own TV contract.
Chris from Virginia Beach, VA
My love of football comes from the athleticism of the sport, the strategy of game planning and execution, and the teamwork shown on game day. All of this fascination with the combine and speculation about the 28th pick in the draft and the business of negotiating contracts holds no attraction for me. Does this make me a bad fan?
To each their own. My love of football comes from its demands and the players’ courage and toughness in meeting those demands. I like the contact. I like the drama of crunch time and the players’ response to it. I can see athleticism on a basketball court. I want to see toughness and the football field is where I go to see it.
Ryan from Fredericton, NB
Vic, would you accept money for injuring an opposing player?
Absolutely not, nor would I accept instruction to injure someone. This is the age-old beanball argument in baseball. Throughout the history of baseball, managers have been ordering pitchers to throw at batters. It’s wrong. It’s nuts. You throw for a purpose, and that purpose should never be to hit the batter. Move him away from the plate to set up something outside? Sure, but not to hit him. That’s where I stand. Play hard and play tough, but never with evil intent.
Jeff from Hudson, WI
How does a team notify the league of a decision they have made? Example: The Packers decide to place the franchise tag on Matt Flynn. What is the process? I assume it's not Ted sending an email to Roger, or is it that simple, just not exactly Ted and Roger?
It’s that simple, just not exactly Ted and Roger. There are designated point people with teams and the league for communicating personnel moves.
David from Honolulu, HI
I'm watching the media center videos reliving the season and I catch myself getting teary eyed. Are we living the best days of our lives in Packers franchise history?
It depends on how old you are. I don’t want you to cry about it but, yes, these are very good times. The question is: How good? The Packers are in a three consecutive years playoff run. How many more in a row? How many times might they get to the Super Bowl? In my mind, these are the questions to answer. As long as Aaron Rodgers is this team’s quarterback and Mike McCarthy is its coach, it’s going to be a championship contender.
Mike from Frederic, WI
I’m wondering who of the players already on the team will make the biggest jump in performance this season?
I think Randall Cobb is the guy. With an offseason behind him in which the Packers’ offensive staff can expand his role and fit him to it, look out in 2012.
Richard from Davis, CA
If you look at the way the NFL rules permit the “Lambeau Leap,” it seems to me they have, in fact, adopted your idea of a celebration circle, except it’s a celebration ring.
Sam from Woodstock, GA
Who are the safeties and what round do you look for them in?
This is considered to be a weak year for safeties. Mark Barron of Alabama might be the best of the bunch and he might fall in the first round due to double hernia surgery that is prohibiting him from participating in postseason workouts, such as the scouting combine. George Iloka of Boise State is a guy that caught my eye at the Senior Bowl. He certainly passes the eye test.
Mark from Stewartville, MN
What is “turf toe” and what causes it? On average, how much time does a player with “turf toe” miss? How common is it and is there anything a player can do to avoid that injury?
It’s soreness in the joint of the big toe and it is commonly the result of playing on a hard surface, such as the old Astroturf fields. What do you do to avoid it? Practice on a natural-grass field. What do you do when you get it? Get a shot in your big toe and hope the game doesn’t go into overtime.
Erik from Salt Lake City, UT
Vic, who would let their child play football after hearing about concussion, CTE, obesity and now bounty programs? Is there anything positive a coach could tell a parent on why their son should play football?
They have bounty programs in Pop Warner and high school football? Come on. I think football has done a very good job of addressing player safety, especially in recent years. I think high school football truly is a kinder, gentler game than it was a long time ago. The whole don’t-drink-water mentality from when I was young is gone, replaced by genuine concern for the players’ safety. Here’s a little story from when I was a kid: A father was concerned for his son’s safety. The kid had sustained an injury in the previous season, so his father wanted to speak to the coach before the father gave permission for his son to play another season. The coach showed up at the kid’s house and began to pitch to the father, promising to attend to his son’s safety. The kicker to the coach’s argument went like this: “Dad, your son’s about to turn 16. Are you going to give him the keys to the family car and send him out onto the highway? Isn’t that kind of dangerous? Give him to me and the time he’ll spend practicing football will be time he won’t spend driving the family car.” The father signed the release form. Erik, there are a lot of dangers associated with life, and driving the family car is one of them. Football is a good and decent game that’ll teach a young man much about himself and others. It’ll prepare him to compete in life. Football has also committed itself to a higher degree of player safety. In my opinion, it has never been safer to play football.
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