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Come prepared or get left behind

Offensive coaches are more creative and daring now


Kevin from Louisville, KY

Were you surprised by reports of the five-year deal for Perry? Is this a sign the light really has gone on for Perry, or was it more a measure of desperation on the part of management? Maybe both?

If the reports on Perry are accurate, I'm not surprised, especially after what McCarthy said at the combine. We finally saw what he could do in a (mostly) healthy season. The Packers wanted Perry back and needed him back, unless they could guarantee the next Matthews would be sitting there at 29.

Jared from Philadelphia, PA

If Hyde walks, do you think that Burnett and Brice have the ability to fill his versatile role?

The Packers won't be able to bring back everybody. We know that. Burnett is a veteran already handling multiple responsibilities. Brice could be the guy on whom the demands rise in 2017, regardless of what happens with Hyde. He's a player to watch for sure.

Phil from Madison, WI

You have mentioned several times how important the weight room is in the offseason for young players. Presumably all major college programs have pretty advanced weight programs. Are the gains you are looking for because NFL regimens are that much better, or are we talking mostly about the physical maturation of 22- to 24-year-old bodies?

Some of both, but mostly the latter. Many players are not physically mature when they enter the league, no matter what college they come from, especially as more and more turn pro a year early.

Johan from Pembroke, ON

Does Rodgers want to have his cheese and eat it, too?

I don't think Rodgers is going to suddenly demand more money right now, but I think he was suggesting his contract isn't going to run its course without some sort of restructuring prior to its expiration in 2019. With where QB salaries are now compared to when he signed his latest deal four years ago, it's fair to say his contract is getting more outdated with each season that goes by. You take care of your franchise player, and the Packers will take care of Rodgers at some point here. As for expounding on the "all in" remark, the most interesting part to me was his reference to adding veteran players during the season when available. He didn't mention them by name, but guys like Erik Walden and Howard Green were brought in off the street when injuries hit hard in 2010, and they played key roles in winning a title.

Gary from Engadine, MI

Wes mentioned that each team has 30 "official" visits besides pro days to look at potential draft choices. Could you elaborate on this? Does each team report this to the league and is the report available to other teams?

Yes, other teams know which prospects are visiting where and when, just like they all know who is formally interviewing with whom at the combine, because that's also a regulated allotment of contacts. The Packers often host players on official visits who are lesser known, guys they might be interested in signing as undrafted free agents, to give them a feel for the facility and the organization ahead of time. There's an element of recruiting involved with those guys.

Matt from Bloomington, IN

Insiders, if a player is suspended for hypothetically four games without pay, would the salary for those four games be returned to the team's cap? Or would it vanish forever?

Vic is fond of saying you pay it, you cap it. I'm pretty sure if you don't pay it, you don't cap it.

Rob from Mt. Dora, FL

Hi, Insiders. Davon House wasn't deemed worthy of keeping a few years ago and last year he was benched in Jacksonville. We need talent, not just bodies. Why would Ted even consider this?

There's no harm in reconnecting with a player you know and who knows you. What the Packers have to figure out is what went wrong for House in Jacksonville and why. If they do that and remain interested, then it comes down to price.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Recently, on a Wisconsin sports talk radio show, the possibility of Jeff Janis converting to cornerback was discussed. Have you heard anything about this in the hallowed halls around Lambeau? Do you think the Packers would consider this? Do you think Janis would be willing to play cornerback? Do you think he would do well there?

That's four questions out of about 4,000 I've seen on this topic. My answers to those four questions are no, no, no, and no.

Terrell from Seoul, South Korea

I admit, I was the main person in the comment section demanding the Packers to just prepare for the draft when they were 4-6. Where was I wrong? They limped their way to an embarrassing blowout in Atlanta.

So you're saying you'd rather the Packers finished 4-12 and be picking in the top five of the draft, than put together an eight-game winning streak and be one of the last four teams standing, one win away from the Super Bowl? I don't get the all-or-nothing mentality. To each his own, I guess.

Ken from Manitowoc, WI

Dudes, do I have to pick just one? I really wanted to vote for a defensive player; Mike Daniels was terrific against the Vikings. I really wanted to vote for a kicker; Mason Crosby was unbelievable against the Cowboys. But Ty Montgomery, 160 yards, average 10-plus per carry, awesome sauce! The fact that Aaron Rodgers is an afterthought just goes to show you what a remarkable season we had! Who's your choice?

Thanks for your interest in Peak Performances. One of our video producers, Tyler, did a bang-up job on those pieces. Not all of my choices were the winners along the way, but of those that survived for the final selection, I choose Rodgers in Philly, right after the "run the table" comment.

Ken from Honolulu, HI

I don't think Packers management is committed to winning a Super Bowl; more committed to ensure long-term financial base and steady winning. That is why they don't sign veteran free agents to plug holes like New England does and the result is a constant young roster with inexperience which results in losing the big games: Bostick and Clinton-Dix fail to make plays in loss to Seattle in 2014; Damarious Randall failing to cover Fitzgerald in overtime in 2015; Ripkowski fumble in 2016 turns game around. Veteran teams like New England do not make these mistakes. Why can't the Pack at least follow a part of New England's strategy? Pack always have cap space left over but don't sign veterans at a decent price that will probably want to come to GB for chance to win SB.

If you really believe the first dozen words of your post, then why do you care? Or, to steal a line from Andy Dufresne, how can you be so obtuse? Your takes on the last three playoff exits are factually correct, but grossly incomplete. Bostick didn't have the only special-teams blunder in that game, Clinton-Dix had picked off two passes earlier that day, Randall had an INT in the end zone in the fourth quarter, and nobody was barking about Ripkowski being too young when he was tearing it up down the stretch. New England? They deserve all the credit in the world, but watch the playoff game against Houston again and tell me any NFC playoff team wouldn't have beaten the Patriots that night. They've won two Super Bowls when the Seahawks needed one more yard and the Falcons didn't even need one. If you don't accept the whimsical nature of some of this stuff, you'll go crazy. If you truly believe the Packers aren't committed to winning a Super Bowl, you're already there.

Matthew from New Berlin, WI

"You never know what you're going to need." Well, it appears as if interior defensive line just became a need.

Uh, yeah.

Wade from Roseville, MN

What position do you think will evolve the most over the next decade?

Defensive line. A decade from now, we may not see any more three- or four-point stances. Everyone might be playing the game standing up.

Kyle from Bozeman, MT

I must say, the draft seems to be approaching must faster for me this year than in previous years. I credit Giannis and the exciting young Bucks rollercoaster of a season for distracting me. Do you have any stories or thoughts to share about Giannis or Bucks basketball? By the way, I had my doubts about three of you sharing the Insider mic going into this season. I must say you are all excellent writers and I enjoy the different generational perspectives within your columns. Thanks!

It would be cool to see the Bucks get good again, with Giannis leading the way. I'll never forget my first Bucks game. I don't remember exactly how old I was, but it was against the Hawks, and when Tree Rollins walked out of the tunnel onto the court, I couldn't believe my eyes. My dad and I were sitting in the back row of the lower level at the old Mecca, and he still looked absolutely huge. Dominique Wilkins did not disappoint, just a superhuman freak. Bo Ryan's UW-Platteville players they were not.

Sherman from Blue Lake, CA

When free agents finally accept an offer, what percentage of the time do you think the money is the deciding factor rather than some intangible such as playing for a better team or coach?


Freddie from West Valley City, UT

In effect, by pushing money out, you've created a self-induced Ponzi scheme?

It's a nightmare for them. They'll wish they'd been caught six years ago, eight years ago.

Luke from Oconomowoc, WI

We have been blessed in recent years with very exciting end of season matchups. I feel like we always praise the schedule-makers. Do you recall a year where the end-of-season games were anti-climactic?

The league's move in 2010 to have all Week 17 contests be division games was shrewd. That said, in 2011, Green Bay clinched the NFC North with three games left and the No. 1 seed with one game to go. That's the last time the Packers didn't have a lot on the line in the regular-season finale.

Jim from West Palm Beach, FL

Would you please elaborate on your observation that Christian McCaffrey doesn't remind you of anyone? Some fans believe we already have him in the form of Ty Montgomery. I'm with you, he is a unique talent who would create mismatches and drive defensive coordinators nuts. BTW, I spent a lot of time on Second St. in the early 70s.

Long live my hometown Hoist House. I think McCaffrey is a bigger breakaway threat in the open field than Montgomery. Dan from Houston is asking the difference between McCaffrey and Reggie Bush, and his point is well-taken. But when Bush came into the league 11 years ago, the most creative thing anyone was doing on offense was the wildcat. Offensive coaches are much more creative and daring now, I think, and that's what intrigues me about a guy like McCaffrey. He may get opportunities coaches never thought of for Bush.

George from Hutchinson, MN

At what stage in the negotiating process does the player's agent know what all the interested teams are exactly ready to pay? Seems complicated. Everybody feeling each other out. Being on different time phases with GMs. Kind of like one big chess match with many simultaneous players.

Agreed, but all it takes is a few phone calls. Interested teams have done their homework well in advance and set their price parameters. You don't get to today, or Tuesday for that matter, unprepared or you'll get left behind.

Brad from Marion, IA

Insiders, one thing which seems to get overlooked by fans during free agency is context. A great quarterback will make a moderate receiver look good. A great defensive line will free up a moderate linebacker to make plays. How much does context play into evaluation of a FA's potential?

You rank players based on ability, but you're always looking for players that fit, on the field, in the locker room, and financially. Context has many forms.

Jack from Chicago, IL

Do you think any scout as ever told Ted Thompson "I told you so"?

Thompson is a scout at heart. He could smile about it.

Bret from Sycamore, IL

Instead of getting a veteran corner in free agency, why not make Charles Woodson the coach of the cornerbacks? Of course if he is willing to do it.

Why do so many people think Woodson would walk away from a great, well-paying TV gig to put in 16-hour days, seven days a week, from August through January? Assistant coaches are workhorses. It's not for everyone.

Chris from Eau Claire, WI

Does a bigger contract always mean more money? Greg Jennings, for example, signed for a couple million more with the Vikings than he would have gotten with the Packers. But if he stayed, he would have likely earned another big contract following that one.

If the reports at the time are to be believed, Jennings would have gotten more money by signing an extension with the Packers heading into 2012, the final year of his deal, but he got hurt and his market value dropped. He bet on himself and lost. Joe Flacco bet on himself that same year, and we all know how that turned out.

Rob from Louisville, CO

I wanted to get perspective on the combine numbers, so I did my own. 16-inch vertical, 6.98 in the 40, and 11.30 in the three-cone drill. When do I show up for training camp?

Coach McCarthy's opening press conference is the day before the first practice. You can join us there.

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