Ask Vic will publish on Monday, Wednesday and Friday during the football season.
Sean from Phnom Penh, Cambodia
For those who wanted to trade for Mack, would it have been possible to sign both the highest paid offensive and defensive players?
It could've been accomplished by re-structuring contracts, pushing money out and making room on the cap for Aaron Rodgers and Khalil Mack, but the damage to future caps by the re-structuring and to future drafts as a result of the picks that would've been lost in the Mack trade could turn the team's fortunes dark when the combined bill came due.
Shane from York, NE
Vic, the Packers kept eight wide receivers for the first time in their history. Is this reflective of today’s NFL or did Gutenkunst get his wish for a more competitive roster?
Yes, it's reflective of today's movement toward passing the football, but keeping so many wide receivers also tells me something else: The Packers are a little thin at other positions. Numbers at positions must be respected, but GMs and coaches are most concerned about keeping their best players. You'd never hear me complain about keeping too many offensive or defensive linemen because they're hard to find. In my opinion, depth wide receivers are a dime a dozen, and the scouts I know and respect share that opinion. Keeping eight wide receivers is a little bit of a roster red flag for me.
Roger from Chesterton (wherever that is)
Vic, I just watched a documentary on Barry Sanders. I knew he was good but I never realized how dominant he was. That said, who is your preference, Sanders or Emmitt Smith?
I prefer Smith. I like pounders. I like backs on whom you can build a game plan and manage a game. Sanders was too unpredictable for my taste. Smith was my idea of the perfect back: a tough, durable, consistent, pads down pounder.
Craig from Cedarburg, WI
Who was your surprise cut of the three teams you covered?
The Steelers' release of Landry Jones surprised me, but it also sent me a strong, positive message. Do you remember what I wrote last week? I analyze cuts according to the commitment teams make to youth. Sometimes it takes courage to favor youth, but that's how you keep a roster fresh and strong. The Steelers have committed to youth at quarterback. Jones is a capable back up, and probably more able right now in that capacity than Mason Rudolph and Josh Dobbs, but the Steelers weren't going to win with Jones and he's probably as good as he's going to get. Rudolph and Dobbs have more upside. I commend the Steelers for going with young upside. That's the Steelers I've known, going back a long way.
Barry from Hayward, WI
Vic, did the Bears just make themselves playoff contenders and will Mack be ready to play on Sunday?
Pay him all that money and he doesn't play in a game that could change the direction of the Bears franchise? That's difficult to imagine. I've been singing the Bears' praises through the offseason. I liked what I saw in Mitch Trubisky last season and I thought the Bears made big strides on defense. They added a promising defensive player in the draft and I began thinking the Bears were on the verge of becoming a playoff contender. Now, with the trade for Khalil Mack, the Bears must become playoff contenders or the trade is an insane waste of draft picks. If Trubisky takes his game up a full notch, yes, I believe the Bears will be contenders, but I also believe the picks the Bears lost in the trade for Mack are going to stunt the Bears' growth. The Bears are not one player away, and the picks they lost in the trade could cripple their chances of finding the other players they need. In my mind, this trade is long-term pain for short-term gain.
Steve from Preston, UK
No fullbacks on the roster. Surprised?
I'm not surprised because fullbacks and tight ends are kind of the same guy, and Mike McCarthy values tight ends more than he does fullbacks.
Brian from Little Rock, AR
In the salary cap era, do you think it can hurt a team to have the best defensive player in the league?
Mack is not the best defensive player in the league, Aaron Donald is, and I don't think it hurts the Rams to have Donald on their team.
Eric from Colorado Springs, CO
The Raiders now have four picks in the first round over the next two years. Jon Gruden has a 10-year contract to build a winning team. I make the Mack trade. Would GM Vic?
It's a win-win for the Raiders. They were able to trade a player they couldn't sign for draft picks with which Gruden will build the Raiders by selecting players that fit his eye and style of play. In my mind, the Raiders were in a tough spot with Mack and the Bears bailed the Raiders out.
Dan Knobsville, PA
What do the scouts have as next year's strength of the draft? Just trying to figure what the Raiders could get with their two first-rounders.
Next year's draft class is thought to be loaded with pass-rushers.
Eli from St. Paul, MN
You've often mentioned the Packer sweep wouldn't work against today's penetrate-and-disrupt schemes. Why didn't defenses choose to play this way against the Lombardi-era Packers?
Penetrate-and-disrupt schemes are vulnerable to getting creased by straight-ahead, quick-hitting stuff. In the Lombardi era, games were controlled by defense and scoring was so low one big play was game-changing. Penetrate-and-disrupt schemes are designed to stop the run on the way to the quarterback. Read-and-react two-gapping in the Lombardi era was designed to rush the quarterback after it stopped the run. Simply put, the Lombardi era was about stopping the run. Today's game is about rushing the passer.
Ric from Longmont, CO
Did the Packers get enough for Hundley? I'm hearing a sixth-round pick and it seems he is worth at least as much.
What's important is they got something for him. It would've been a shame to cut a player of value. Draft picks are pieces of gold. The Packers added a piece to their collection. They played their cards perfectly at quarterback. They've upgraded the position and recouped value for the position's excess. I respect that kind of roster management.
Paul from Cumming, GA
Are the Rams going to salary cap hell?
They have a plan, and that plan almost certainly involves annual re-structuring of contracts to push money out they had already pushed out. That will worsen the problem, of course, but they no doubt are counting on league revenues increasing and the cap going up. A lot of teams have had that plan. It's the salary cap hamster wheel. They think they can keep running forever, or maybe the people who've made that decision figure they will have moved on by the time the team has to cut and gut and it'll be someone else's problem. To answer your question directly, yes, the Rams are on their way to a very bad place. Maybe they can win a Super Bowl before they feel the fire.
Sam from Sussex, WI
Would you have moved on from Brady to Jimmy Garoppolo? How many more years of quality play from Brady makes it worth it to ship out a young talent, in your opinion?
If Tom Brady hits the wall this year and Garoppolo becomes a star, the Patriots will regret not having found a way to retain Garoppolo. It could've been done, for example, by guaranteeing big salaries in future years and then converting those salaries to signing bonuses when the Patriots reached those forward years. Such a maneuver would've created cap room in the present to keep both quarterbacks, given Garoppolo the guarantee he'd replace Brady as the Patriots' starting quarterback, and created cap room when Garoppolo became the starting quarterback. That kind of plan, however, requires a massive commitment to Garoppolo as Brady's replacement, and I get the feeling the Patriots didn't want to take that risk. I think we need to see Garoppolo as a starter for a full year before we anoint him the next Tom Brady. Bill Belichick is a sensational evaluator of talent.
Leif from Frederic, WI
Vic, what are your thoughts on the Ryan Switzer trade? Tomlin and Colbert are batting .000 on these late trades, i.e. Boykin and Justin Gilbert.
Was Martavis Bryant a good trade? When it comes to wide receivers, Kevin Colbert has my respect. The Steelers made the right decision in keeping Antonio Brown and allowing Mike Wallace to walk, and they smartly drafted JuJu Smith-Schuster to replace Bryant. The Steelers gave up nearly nothing in the Switzer trade, and they get a player who has a little bit of a Wes Welker look to him. It's a no-risk, high-upside trade.
Chenc from Gent, Oost-Vlaanderen Belgium
Vic, I’m fascinated by the NFL cap and I’m constantly trying to understand how it works. You talked about the Pats lowering Brady’s dead money to avoid damaging their cap. How is that possible? How do they eliminate Brady’s dead money from their cap?
They do it by increasing his salary and creating LTBE (likely to be earned) incentives, of which he has several in his contract. Roster bonus is another means of bringing money forward. Signing bonus, NLTBE (not likely to be earned) incentives and voidables are a means for pushing money out.
Jesse from Bethlehem, PA
Vic, if I’m not mistaken, no Packers cuts were claimed on waivers. Is this a reflection of a weak roster, or nothing to read into?
That could change, but it's an indication Brian Gutekunst kept the right players. He knows what he's doing. He deserves patience, to allow him to build the roster according to his vision.