Ben from Indianapolis, IN

Vic, how difficult is it for a GM to build a perennial contender and maintain cap discipline, a la Thompson or Belichick?

Having a quarterback the quality of Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady immediately makes a team a contender. The challenge is building a supporting cast within your cap structure. That’s where Ted Thompson and Bill Belichick have been masterful. Thompson has consistently found value in the late rounds and in college free agency. Belichick has consistently found one-year patches in bargain free agency.

Anthony from Baraboo, WI

Vic, how do you see the high level of free agency movement and big-name trades affecting the draft this year? Will more good talent fall to the bottom of the draft this year than in years past? Will there be more draft-day trades than normal?

I don’t see free agency impacting the draft. It’ll be more of the same, which is to say teams fitting themselves to the pick, and that’ll mean a high volume of trading. Teams are addressing needs in the draft, but not by reaching. Everybody is trying to achieve the same goal: address needs by moving to where the player they want fits. If you reach for a guy, you overpay.

Nate from Torrington, CT

I don’t get it. Why trade Shady to the Bills and then turn around and sign Murray?

I assumed the Eagles traded LeSean McCoy to get the linebacker they wanted and then find a more affordable replacement for McCoy among a deep class of running backs. I underestimated the Eagles’ aggressiveness. They’re going to be fun to watch next season. Is all of this genius or madness?

Ryan from Platteville, WI

Do you have a surprise team from the NFC and AFC for the upcoming season?

The Rams are my surprise team in the NFC. I like the moves they’ve made. With a draft this year the equal of last year’s, look out. In the AFC, the Bills could be a team on the verge, but they still need to find a starting-caliber quarterback.

Hernan from Milwaukee, WI

Is there any sort of big board for free agency? For example, if the Packers need an ILB, do they have a list they could pick from depending on price?

Teams have a free agency board, but it’s been my experience for the players to be ranked according to talent, not cost.

Darren from Barrow, AK

Vic, why do you think we, as fans, have such a hard time accepting the BAP philosophy, when the Packers have shown such consistency while using it?

Fans focus on need and today. The draft is about value and tomorrow. You hope you can address immediate need, but you commit to talent and the development of it.

Shaun from Phoenix, AZ

I used to be the guy demanding we spend money on big free agents. Since reading your column daily, I have gained perspective. I now find myself cringing at big contracts like Randall Cobb and Sam Shields. I now know what it takes to have a healthy cap and contending team for years to come. Byrd is not the word.

Being a contending team is the key. The Super Bowl should not be the goal at this time of the year. If it is, it’ll make you do things you regret. Focus on being a contender. It’s a conservative approach that’s more easily achieved.

Greg from Perkasie, PA

Vic, do you see this offseason so far as the Packers staying the same while other teams improve, or do you see it as the Packers being smart and other teams throwing money around?

I don’t see a lot of teams throwing money around. I think most of the teams in the league have acted responsibly this week. The Packers aren’t the only smart team in the NFL.

Jeff from Washington, DC

How does a roster bonus differ from salary in regards to the cap?

Roster bonus is declared in full in the year it’s paid. Signing bonus is spread evenly over the life of the contract.

Bill from Morris, IL

I see the Colts released Trent Richardson. Is this a good example of why it isn’t a smart move to give up a first-round draft pick for a big name?

It’s a good example of a team willing to trade a player knowing more about that player than a team willing to trade for him.

Rick from Stockholm, Sweden

How would you feel about the Packers signing Vince Wilfork on the same kind of deal we did with Peppers last year?

Wilfork has become the most popular name in my inbox. Packers fans want to sign him. Why? Because he would address a perceived need. I wouldn’t be opposed to signing Wilfork, but not for Julius Peppers money.

Mike from Hopkinsville, KY

With Hawk and Jones both gone, why not pick up a guy like Brandon Spikes in free agency and still draft a young inside linebacker as well? Do they really think they’ll find a day-one starter that late in the first round?

I’m not opposed to signing a free-agent linebacker, but what’s the rush? Let the market cool down. Let the bargains emerge. Free agency is a good forum for addressing needs. It’s panic buying that’s the problem.

Drew from Gilbert, AZ

Why do teams that consistently overspend on big-name free agents, and are consistently losing, continue to overspend during free agency, even though it’s not working? Are they fundamentally against draft and develop?

Those teams are few in number. Impatience at the top is usually the cause.

Ed from Henryville, IN

After listening to Cobb’s conference call and the fact he turned down more money from other teams from the business side of it, have you seen this happen much? Do a lot of players have that loyalty anymore?

No to both questions.

Brandon from Fairfield, CA

With the first week of free agency winding down, who are your winners and losers?

As I wrote above, I like what the Rams did. I think they traded for a young quarterback on the rise, a guy who’ll fit nicely into what Jeff Fisher wants to do. The Rams are also positioned to use the 2016 second-round pick they got in the trade to move up or acquire another pick in this year’s draft. On the other side, I greatly respect Ndamukong Suh’s talent, but I think the Dolphins spent over the top on the side of the ball that isn’t the problem.


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