"Ask Vic" is published on Monday and Thursday through the offseason.
Jeff from Des Moines, IA
Vic, do you feel teams that draft and develop at a high level are appropriately rewarded for their success in today's NFL?
If they have a star quarterback, yes. If they have a star quarterback, they almost have to draft and develop at a high level because he's gonna eat up the cap.
Mike from Fort Wayne, IN
How damaging is Deshaun Watson's civil lawsuits going to be for his trade desires?
I read a story that suggests teams are still interested in trading for him, but if I had wanted to trade for him, I wouldn't now. This is a big deal and it's going to get bigger.
Loftur from Columbus, OH
What is the greatest technological invention in football history and do you foresee anything taking it's place at the top in the near future?
It is, without a doubt, the invisible paint TV uses to show where the line to gain is.
Kyle from Prescott, WI
Vic, I have kept your "dime a dozen" comments about receivers in mind while watching the last few drafts and free agency. Overall, the free-agent market seems to agree with you. However, we still see a number of receivers highly drafted every year. Is there a more nuanced way to look at the position that places a high value on a dominant receiver and a low value on everyone else?
There are just more of them to draft. In the 2020 draft, 35 wide receivers were selected, compared to 20 offensive tackles. Wide receiver, linebacker and cornerback are usually the top three positions selected; they usually offer the greatest supply of NFL-caliber prospects. The edge pass blockers are in short supply. You almost have to get them early or you'll find yourself reaching for them late because you have to have them. Bakhtiari was a great find in round four.
Jake from Knoxville, TN
Vic, I like to watch, and the only people I ever complain about are the fans, the refs and, most often, the people who write the rules. Is it okay if I don’t truly know football? I appreciate the salary cap’s all-importance, but I have avoided learning much about it beyond a handful of guidelines: rookie contract good, dead money bad, can’t sign everyone, etc.
Yeah, that'll work. You don't need to know the intricacies of the cap, but you need to know enough about the cap to understand why teams do what they do because the cap impacts all of a team's personnel decisions. It is the author of a comprehensive, long-range personnel strategy and I think cap-savvy fans have an appreciation for that kind of planning the fans who avoid knowing the cap don't.
Samuel from Jacksonville, FL
If you're Jacksonville, do you trade Minshew? A backup QB with starting experience on a cheap rookie deal is valuable.
If they can get a decent pick for him, trade him. He's certainly not going to compete for the starting job with the first overall pick.
Leo from Dallas, TX
Your prediction, which I shared, was the Ravens would let Lamar Jackson walk after his rookie contract was up, unless he became a dominant passer, too. The recent dramas and power plays by other mobile QBs would seem to encourage that, except franchises still re-sign them to huge contracts when the dust settles. Are the Ravens cap-strict enough to be the first to hold their ground, or do you think another franchise will draw the line in the sand?
I'd like to see links to what I'm being told I've allegedly said, but I'll acknowledge concern for Jackson's skills as a passer after the Ravens used him for much of his rookie season as a specialty downs runner. Since then, he's become a full-time quarterback and his passing stats look fine to me: 6,000 yards, 62 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. That's not good enough for you? He was the NFL's 11th-ranked passer with a 99.3 passer ranking last season. Re-signing him isn't even an issue.
Tim from Ocala, FL
I have to say I am very impressed with how the Jaguars have approached free agency so far. Frugal contracts and solid depth overhaul, with only one real splash signing. What is your take on the Jaguars' 2021 free agency thus far?
It's low risk. It has a Belichick-like patch quality to it. Its volume gives it strength and it immediately makes the Jaguars a better team. Frankly, its expansionesque. The Jaguars have been re-born.
Donovan from Torrington, CA
Aren't A.J. Dillon and Jamaal Williams close enough in ability and potential to go with Dillon simply because Dillon's the younger guy?
Age has nothing to do with the decision to keep Dillon and let Williams walk, and it doesn't appear money was the issue either because Williams' deal with the Lions is so inexpensive it might not even qualify for compensatory draft pick consideration. Williams' cap number in '21 is a mere $1.625 million -- Dillon is $1.2 million -- and Williams would only be $1.625 million dead in '22 if the Lions decided to cut him. The Packers spent a second-round pick on Dillon. You don't cut a second-round pick in his second season.
Joel from Knoxville, IA
This blog is pathetic. The Packers have the best record in football over the last two years. Whine, whine, whine, whine. What a bunch of pathetic non-participants. Most of your questioners wouldn’t know football if it hit them between the eyes. Vic, do a better job of editing your questions.
Bob from Green Bay, WI
This would never happen, but what do you think the trade value for Jordan Love is at this point in time?
A three, maybe a two if you found a team that loved him coming out and still needs a quarterback. The Bears might give you four ones.
Dan from Minneapolis, MN
In announcing the new NFL media agreements, Roger Goodell said, "We're going to find ways we can engage fans through legalized sports betting." Vic, it feels like the game is going to become unrecognizable in the near future. What are your thoughts as to the potential impact of the NFL embracing gambling, which is anathema to its history?
I can remember writing, "The day they put that little box on top of the TV, the money will flow like water." That was a long time ago. Now they don't even need the little box. It's frightening to think what a partnership between the NFL and gambling could produce. More and more every day, the past looks like a better place to live.
Hannah from McFarland, WI
So before '93, did the most elite NFL players always stick with the teams that brought 'em?
Unless they were traded or cut, yes. Until unrestricted free agency, players were, in effect, the exclusive property of the team that owned the player's rights. The compensation required to sign a free agent effectively took them off the market. At the height of his career, Walter Payton was a free agent and didn't get a sniff. The players' only recourse was to hold out, and several did.
Damon from La Crosse, WI
Are the Packers waiting for the stupid money to dry up?
The Steelers did and they got Smith-Schuster back at a ridiculously low number.
Pedro from Asturias, Spain
If a team inks a player for, let's say, four years and the player calls it quits after the first season, can the team recover part of the signing bonus or continue to spread the cap hit through the whole contract length?
The team will likely seek return of a portion of the signing bonus, as the Lions did with Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson when they abruptly retired with time left on their contracts. Sanders said, "That's a tough check to write," and it resulted in a frosty relationship with the Lions that's only begun to thaw in recent years. When the team receives that "tough check," it will receive a cap credit from the league. Yes, the cap can be difficult to understand and that's why I stress this simple logic: You pay it, you claim it. When you've claimed it and didn't pay it, you get a credit. I like the newish rule that allows teams to carry unused cap space over to future years.
Ken from Tucson, AZ
What can college football learn from college basketball's March Madness?
The lesson is simple and obvious: When the supply of talent is spread over a large field of teams, parity results. Because basketball rosters are small, spreading the supply of talent doesn't require legislation. Football does.
Mike from Bridgeport, CT
What did you think about Meyer's brutally honest comments about the free agency process? He might be right, but too much too soon? Why paint a target on your back already?
This isn't college football. It's not autocratic. The NFL isn't the NCAA. The NFL can't unilaterally fix what's wrong. The process is the result of painstaking negotiation between the league's owners and the players union. It's the best compromise to ensure the game that's paying Meyer millions of dollars before he has even coached one game in the NFL can function within a workable framework. Deal with it!
Nate from Star Prairie, WI
I'm thinking they move on from Rodgers after next season with their inaction.
If the Packers are reluctant to push money out and create more cap room, it tells me they don't want to increase his dead money; it suggests to me they want to unwind his amortization and, yes, that would suggest they're preparing for life after Rodgers. What if they're considering an extension? That's a different ballgame. Or maybe they've decided "what's the rush?" which I would applaud. Let's wait for more information.
Tom from Oshkosh, WI
I have been reading most deals for free-agent running backs are going to be relative bargains. Did Gute panic when he rushed to sign Aaron Jones early in free agency?
It's a fair question. I sensed a sharp shift in strategy. My reporter instincts, and knowing agents as I do, tells me Rosenhaus saw he wasn't going to break the bank, so he let the Packers know he would be willing to negotiate. They did a deal and then Rosenhaus did what agents do to make themselves and their clients look good. It's about the money, and when they say it's not about the money, that's when it's really about the money.