"Ask Vic" will publish on Mondays and Thursdays through the offseason.
Pat from Collierville, TN
Vic, has your laptop exploded yet? What are the Packers up to in free agency? Do you think they improved their roster enough and is it worth the money they spent?
At the end of last season, I was asked what the expectation should be for the Packers in 2019. My answer was to ask me after free agency begins. Well, free agency has begun and I'm prepared to answer the question: The expectation for the Packers in 2019 is to compete for the division title. Rebuilding was concluded on Tuesday. If the Packers don't make it into the playoffs next season, 2019 will have been a disappointment and the cap room the team spent in free agency will have been wasted and difficult to recover.
Dave from Lake Elmo, MN
The Packers feel the need to sign four new starters while their free agents don't even get a sniff, confirmation of what you've been saying for quite some time, that it was a weak roster. Are these signings an indication of too many holes to fill through a single draft, combined with a sense of urgency to turn this around in a hurry before Aaron's window closes?
The obvious answer to your question is yes. The Packers weren't willing to ride the slow train to recovery. They chose to ride a much faster train, and tickets to ride that train are very expensive.
Ethan from Ontario, Canada
You stated you like the bargain approach to free agency more than all-in spending, so how do you feel about the moves the Packers have made? I specifically like the Adrian Amos move. He always seemed to be around the ball when we played the Bears.
All four of their first-day signings are ascending players. I love that about the players the Packers targeted. Pass rushers are especially expensive, and I'm not a big spender, but I love the Za'Darius Smith signing. I'm surprised the Ravens let him go; that's the only thing that bothers me, because the Ravens know defense and how to rush the passer and I'm shocked they didn't value Smith more than they did. I think the Ravens got this one wrong. I'm not as familiar with Preston Smith. I'm more than a little surprised the Packers chose to sign two pricey pass rushers, what with this year's draft said to be deep in pass rushers. Amos is the signing I don't especially like. He was a fifth-round pick out of a big school. Hey, that's where you find non-elite safeties, in the fifth round and at big schools, where they played against top competition and in big games.
Ryan from Green Bay, WI
Do you believe the Vikings made a wise choice in re-signing Barr? I believe I can hear the train whistle.
The Vikings? If you open your window, you might hear, "All aboard!"
Dave from Franklin, WI
As the green and gold faithful sing the praises of free agency and celebrate Rome being rebuilt in one day, I must ask, did the Packers overpay to fill some holes?
Of course they did. There are no bargains on the first day of free agency. The real question is: How badly do you want to win? Or, as Coach Noll might've asked, "How do you wish to die?"
Dan from Madison, WI
Has the push begun for the Packers?
Yes. This is it. This is the aggressiveness in free agency for which Packers fans have been begging for all the years Aaron Rodgers has been the team's quarterback. The Ted Thompson era of Packers football came to a close on Tuesday. These are the new Green Bay Packers.
Paul from Jacksonville, FL
Well, the Jags are apparently all in on Nick Foles. He's an upgrade over what we've had, but is he enough?
The Jaguars' quarterback play last season was so awful, so dreadfully pathetic, the upgrade the addition of Foles represents makes him, in my opinion, the most significant signing in all of free agency. Jaguars fan claimed the team would've been a Super Bowl contender if they only had an average quarterback. Well, now they have a player who, at worst, will be average. I'm calling out the defense: Stop talking and start getting it done. You didn't get it done in the AFC title game in New England, and you didn't get it done against the Chiefs, Steelers, Bills or Titans last season.
Michael from Eau Claire, WI
Vic, help an old man understand. What is your take on these defensive acquisitions by Green Bay?
In my opinion, they are savvy personnel decisions that dovetail with a green light from Mark Murphy to spend the money to sign them. I can't think of two better words to describe the Packers' approach to free agency than the words "all in."
Mike from Fort Wayne, IN
Vic, when does spring cleaning begin for those living in your area of the country and what specific spring cleaning tasks do coastal people do?
Spring cleaning has begun and we do it with a power washer. My porch and rocking chairs are covered with yellow pine pollen. It will worsen over the next couple of weeks. The oak leaves have begun to fall, as the old leaves are pushed off the tree by new growth. The shower of leaves will leave my driveway covered by an inch of what was new only a year ago. It's a wonderful cycle of re-birth. I celebrate it with a leaf blower.
Steve from Hudson, WI
Can you share your thoughts on the free agency work done by the Packers, Steelers and Jaguars?
The Packers and Jaguars swung for the fence. In the Steelers' ongoing attempt to strengthen a persistently weak secondary, they signed an unremarkable cornerback who can also play safety, which gives them some versatility in sub packages. By and large, however, the Steelers have completed their cycle of success and have begun the process of reconstituting their ranks and clearing their salary cap. They've added three draft picks by trading Antonio Brown and Marcus Gilbert. The Steelers will get a big cap credit for Bell from last season, and trading Bryant will provide a lot of room following 2019. The Steelers will recover quickly if they draft the right players. They rode the train as far as it would take them.
David from Washington, DC
Peer into the abyss of these contracts and tell us what the numbers mean. I see a lot of money loaded into the first two years of these free-agent contracts. Is that what the Packers are expecting to get out of them, two years and then see what happens?
As Bill Cowher would say, "that's an accurate statement," and I might add that if two years from now these contracts are judged to have been a mistake, this column will be full of "fire everybody" questions.
Eric from Hudson, WI
Do you think pride forced Le’Veon Bell to sign with the Jets? That situation won’t end well.
He ran out of options. He didn't listen to his agent two years ago when Bell was advised to accept the contract the Steelers were offering. It was better than the contract he got from the Jets, and so was the contract offer Bell got from the Steelers in 2018. Between his childish tweets, his stubbornness and lack of business sense, Bell looks foolish. The Steelers are the clear winner. The money they're not paying Bell and the cap room they'll be credited is worth more than the yards Bell didn't gain and were affordably replaced by James Conner and Jaylen Samuels.
Taylor from Amarillo, TX
Vic, the Steelers have $21 million in dead money after trading Brown. How does that work?
It's bonus amortization that must pass through their cap, but the Steelers will get a cap credit for the roster bonus and salary they won't have to pay Brown this year, so the offset is about $6 million the Steelers will have to eat, and that's not a big deal. In 2020, the good times roll.
Eric from Lansing, MI
Besides being new, what is the best thing about being old?
It's the sweet surrender. All of a sudden, it's OK to be ordinary.
Robert from Chicago, IL
Nick Foles going to the Jaguars. I want to be excited about it as a fan, but why don't I believe? He's a Super Bowl MVP, he directed late-season winning runs two times. When you read that stuff, it seems like he is the answer, so why don't I believe it? What did you see in Foles?
I see a guy who can convert third down. Bortles couldn't convert third down. Against the Steelers, they didn't even let him try to convert third down. The key to belief, in my opinion, is to pin your expectations to the defense and Jalen Ramsey. If Foles can give the Jaguars a 2007-like David Garrard type of season, he will have more than equaled reasonable expectations for him.
Jim from Madison, WI
My Jaguars just signed Nick Foles. While I believe they have improved as a team, I still don't believe they signed "The Man," nor should we expect for them to consistently compete for the playoffs with him at the helm. What is the silver lining for the Jaguars' season?
He shouldn't have to be "The Man." Vic to Ramsey: Facta, non verba.