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Only one player is truly irreplaceable

Posted Mar 15, 2017

Don't confuse market value with a player's worth

Wes from Fishers, IN

I guess we’ll see how much weight the formula for comp picks really puts on salary for lost free agents when they’re announced next year.

Indeed.

Dave from Stoughton, WI

I don’t see any real losses in free agency other than possibly Lang and that isn’t a big deal either. The rest all seem replaceable to me, especially considering injuries, age and lack of production. Your take?

Only one player on the Packers is truly irreplaceable.

Brad from Lakewood, WI

Please remind those who are worried about the Lacy departure that the Packers didn’t have him last year, either.

I really liked Eddie, as a player and a person, and I’ll miss hearing his howl of laughter in the locker room. It was unmistakable. To your point, the Packers were 3-2 with Lacy last year, 9-5 without him (9-3 against everybody except the NFC champs). It’s a cold reality, but the above answer applies.

Bob from Racine, WI

Insiders, can you ever remember a year when so many Packer free agents left the team? I sense we will not be the same team in 2017.

The mass exodus is reminiscent of 2011, right after the Packers won the Super Bowl, but the names are bigger this year. A convergence of the ’13 draft class coming due, two one-year deals signed last year (Perry and Cook), plus Peppers’ and Lang’s multi-year contracts expiring, all at the same time, left 13 UFA/RFAs in all. I thought the Packers would have re-signed more than three thus far, but when I see the money being tossed around, I’m not stunned by the developments.

Dave from Saint Peters, MO

Bakhtiari is the only draft pick on the roster from 2013. What does that say about our draft-and-development program?

That other teams thought more of the players the Packers developed than the Packers did. I don’t know what other conclusion to draw. There’s a lot of outrage over the Packers not wanting to pay “what guys are worth,” to quote a line all over the Inbox. Don’t confuse market value with a player’s worth. One is a projection of the other, a construct that reflects an opinion. But it’s not the only opinion, and over time, the decision-makers are judged by which opinions were correct.

Nate from New Hope, MN

Will more RBs go in the first round this year after the Cowboys’ success with Elliott? Do the Packers need to move up the draft order to get a top-tier RB?

Yes and no.

Michael from Orange Park, FL

I was wondering if any of you could give an estimate on what comp picks the Packers might expect in the 2018 draft.

Still too early, but the only addition that counts “against” the Packers so far is Bennett. Kendricks and House were cut by their former teams. To date, the Packers have lost Hyde, Peppers, Tretter, Lang, Lacy and Jones. Green Bay might still sign another player, while Cook will be going somewhere else with a contract probably big enough to factor in. Four comp picks is the max, and the greater the net loss, the more likely one or two of those picks could be as high as third-rounders.

Alex from Winter Haven, FL

Insiders, I will call it now – Seahawks at Packers, Week 1 Sunday night.

Hmmmm…

Jake from St. Paul, MN

I saw that Montgomery is keeping his number, 88. I thought he had to switch.

Apparently he doesn’t because his position change does not involve a change in eligibility as a pass-catcher, so he’s good. If a tight end switches to guard or tackle, for example, or vice versa, he’d be required to change numbers. I learn something new every day.

Brandon from Tulsa, OK

Mike, you said believing you’re a player or two away from winning is a fool’s errand. Aaron Rodgers doesn’t seem to agree with you. In an interview last week, Aaron said, “But the difference between winning the championship and losing the NFC Championship sometimes comes down to a couple plays, or players.” So does Aaron need to adjust his thinking or do you?

In 2014, it came down to a play or two. In 2016, the players missing were Shields and healthy pass-rushers. I don’t think my thoughts are much different from Rodgers’, frankly. March is a long way from January.

Don from Woodstock, GA

What is Thompson doing? Lions have built up their OL. Vikings build up OL and Datone Jones. Packers have big holes to fill at RB, LB, T, OLB, CB, more than we needed to fill in 2016. Patriots fill their holes and are ready to repeat another SB. Rodgers has only a few more years left and I do not see the urgency to build up the defense. The Lions are the team to beat in 2017 at this point of the year.

You said it. At this point of the year. Who cares? And I heartily disagree anyway.

Matt from Oshkosh, WI

Insiders, we will never know all of what went on during the contract negotiations with T.J. Lang. Having said that, if what I have read is true, I am disappointed in TT and the Packers. Lang played hurt and put the team’s needs in front of his. He is an outstanding player and by all accounts a great presence in the locker room. If you are going to go a little beyond your comfort zone, don’t you do that for a guy like Lang? What kind of message does this say to the team?

You raise worthy points, as others have. But let’s not be naïve here. It was just as much in Lang’s interest to play hurt and not miss upwards of half the season in a contract year, though that doesn’t change my overall admiration for what he did. I mentioned yesterday I thought the Packers got pulled out of their comfort zone on Perry, due to all the franchise tags handed out to pass-rushers. Just my guess, but if the Perry situation plays out differently, I think Lang is still in Green Bay. He was not the top priority, though, and that’s how it goes.

Thomas from Milwaukee, WI

Are you guys excited about being able to interview one of the most notorious characters in the NFL on a weekly basis? Most people see Bennett’s mouth as a negative, but I can’t remember him ever being out of line or offensive. I love a guy without a filter because I’m the same way.

His answer yesterday to his location during the conference call – “I’m on earth” – would seem to be a good first taste.

Mark from Bettendorf, IA

Are you as shocked by how things have played out so far? Is there another big shock to come?

I expected the Packers to retain either Lang or Lacy. Otherwise, none of the other happenings is much of a surprise to me.

Dale from Kettering, OH

What do agents tell their clients when they screw up – I mean pass up – a good deal?

I’ve always believed in you. Now you have to believe in me.

Scott from Wetumpka, AL

So, Rodgers has two new weapons at tight end, but the Pack’s power back is gone. I’m wondering if McCarthy is about to make a major scheme change featuring lots of two tight end sets and Ty Montgomery coming out of the backfield as a rusher/receiver. With the existing wide receiver corps, could this be Rodgers’ most lethal arsenal ever?

How soon we forget 2011, but I think the Packers can find a solid back in this draft to pair with Montgomery and provide the offensive balance they had in 2014. That’s the plan I see forming.

David from San Francisco, CA

How does the fifth-year option work on the Ha Ha Clinton-Dix contract? Does he have to agree to it, or is it as simple as the Packers electing rights to it?

It’s a team option only, but it’s guaranteed for injury and fully guaranteed on the first day of the new league year as the player heads into his fifth season. The salary is determined by averaging a segment of the top salaries league-wide at the player’s position, so it’s a significant bump in pay. The segment of salaries averaged is different for players drafted in the first 10 picks (10 highest) vs. players drafted 11-32 (third through 25th highest).

Dave from Atlanta, GA

I’m not seeing any questions about Tretter because I think you guys are dodging it. Tretter was not break-the-bank type money and was capable of playing any position on the line at a high level. Heck, he even played tackle. This seemed to be reasonable money to ensure the protection of No. 12. Before you go down the road of injuries, we went down that road with Bulaga and others so I’m not buying. With 300-plus pound behemoths piled up I’m surprised there isn’t more. Lang I get, Tretter I don’t.

Being a serviceable backup in a pinch at tackle or guard is one thing. Being a full-time starter at one of those spots is another. I believe Tretter is the former, not the latter, and nobody’s paying $5-6 million per for a backup, no matter how versatile. His home is center. He’s a darn good one, but the Packers are choosing Linsley over Tretter. Given the two players’ injury histories to this point, that’s a no-brainer.

Paul from Dallas, TX

How can one be a “casual fan”? Isn’t that an oxymoron?

Casual observer, then? Either way, that’s who the bean counters care about. They know the hard-cores aren’t going anywhere.

Brian from Somerset, WI

I for one am excited about the TE signings. I can’t wait to see what they can do on the field together. Makes me think of 1995 with Chmura and Jackson. Creates a lot of mismatches with two TEs running down the seam. Your thoughts?

Bennett explained it very well yesterday. If both tight ends are effective blockers, too, the defense has to decide if it’s more concerned about run or pass, and the offense can make a call at the line of scrimmage based on the opposing personnel. Run against a light-in-the-pants sub-package, or throw against a run-heavy look. That’s what football is nowadays more than ever.

Jesse from Bellingham, WA

I’m excited about the Davon House signing. Do you know why he sat so much last year in Jacksonville? Should we be concerned?

I saw comments from him indicating he didn’t function as well when the Jaguars played more zone coverage, as opposed to the press man with which he put together a solid season in 2015. It’ll be up to House to prove the self-analysis correct.

Jeff from Green Bay, WI

Insiders, wise man once said just root for the jerseys because the players always change. How true.

Wasn’t that wise man Jerry Seinfeld?

Brian from Champaign, IL

Hey Insiders, who wins the Big Dance?

Thanks for the reminder. I gotta get my bracket turned in. Arizona?

Jacob from Decorah, IA

This team has gotten worse so far in FA. Make the case that I’m wrong.

You’re not wrong, but the Packers always get worse, on paper, at this time of year. The 2017 roster won’t be finalized until the first week of September. Let’s see what the paper looks like then.

Zach from Mount Pleasant, UT

Is there a writer in the building with any guts? How is it possible you guys don’t call out Murphy and Thompson on this free-agency situation? I have never seen a team let so many players go when if they just signed a few guys on defense they could win it all. You are gutless writers collecting a paycheck and that’s it!

Then why do you read what I have to say?

Todd from Menominee, MI

Packer fans are going bonkers over former players like Eddie Lacy and T.J. Lang going to other teams. Me, I’m sitting here thinking, I’m being patient. Ted must have a plan. We’ll be all right. Am I crazy?

Only if I am, too.


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