Inbox: A superstar in the hand…

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Nathan from Morris, IL

What is your plan for free agency? I really hope we make a big pickup or two. I love the guys we have, but I believe we need a little bit more help on both sides of the ball.

My plans for free agency? Well, I’m off the rest of the week, so I plan to do some light reading, clean the house a little bit and maybe run outside if it actually gets up to 50 Thursday. Besides that, just take it easy like the Dude, man. Good morning!

Andy from Avondale, AZ

With FA in full swing, it feels once again like the Packers are falling behind, not just in our division, but in the NFC as a whole. It's tough watching big-time players go to division and conference rivals when we are already sitting towards the bottom. No. 12 has kept us relevant, but it's only getting harder for us and he can't do it by himself. Why won’t we bring in guys when we have so many needs and a closing window? Trying to stay positive, but like our division, it’s getting harder.

Just because the Packers aren’t showing up on the ESPN ticker doesn’t mean they aren’t pursuing deals like everyone else. Brian Gutekunst is working the phones. I promise no moss is growing under his feet. Please keep in mind Julius Peppers visited, signed and left town before anyone even knew about it in 2014. We have another 1½ days before pen gets put to paper on these things. You can walk loudly or walk softly – you’re still getting to the same place.

Nick from Plainwell, MI

The prices I'm reading these free agents are agreeing to in this negotiating period are crazy. Does it seem like this has been the norm compared to years past?

That’s free agency, man. As the salary cap rises, the cost of the league’s top players is going to rise with it.

Steve from Flagstaff, AZ

Kevin King staying healthy is needed for this D, but I also believe having a good pass rush is needed to make the D a top D in the league. Without one, then corners can only cover for so long. With one, the corners can look exceptional and be in better position to make INTs or have the QB make bad throw where the corners are more likely to make an INT. Also, King’s health is at a breaking point this year, I think. It’s either he’s here to stay or maybe it’s time to move on. Thoughts?

Please, please, please stop with this narrative about the Packers possibly needing to move on from King. It ain’t happening, so quit asking (Saban voice). The guy is talented, playing on a rookie contract and signed through 2020. I will agree the Packers need to add a pass rusher and this is probably the year to do it given the depth in both free agency and the draft.

Nathan from Denver, CO

And suddenly safeties are expensive?

Again, that’s the NFL. It reminds me of a few years ago when guards started getting big contracts.

Take a look at photos of Packers DL Montravius Adams from the 2018 season.

Brian from Schertz, TX

Who would you choose to be your quarterback: Favre or Rodgers in their prime?

Both QBs fit their team during the time in which they played. If you’re asking about the NFL in 2019, however, I’d have to go with Rodgers.

Kolby from Oak Hills, CA

In the past, we’ve become accustomed to seeing Aaron Rodgers scramble and extend plays for big completions down the field. With new Head Coach Matt LaFleur and his apparent commitment to running the ball more often and being more balanced, do you see Rodgers’ sandlot type plays being as common as they’ve been throughout his career under Mike McCarthy?

Time will tell. Historically, that scrambling aspect of Rodgers’ game is part of his brilliance. I don’t know how much LaFleur wants to curtail that. A consistent running attack would help everyone, though.

Josh from Oshkosh, WI

On Saturday, Wes mentioned the 2013 team being better than anyone will remember it to be. I've felt the same about the 2012 team. 11-5 and a divisional round, plus the Fail Mary game. 2009-2014 were all incredible teams. Do you think the NFC Championship in Seattle was the end of an era in a way? What else contributed to the team taking a turn in 2015 that it hasn't yet recovered from? I know they made the playoffs that year and 2016 was great, but it hasn't been the same.

The 2012 team was the second- or third-most balanced team of the McCarthy Era. The brutal ending in San Francisco sours the aftertaste, but that team could win in all three phases. I see what you’re saying about 2014 being kind of the end of an era in a way. There was a changing of the guard on the roster after that season. It was Green Bay’s last truly dominant year.

Iker from Ameca, Jalisco, Mexico

If T.J. Hockenson is the better overall tight end, why do some mocks have Noah Fant going to the Packers at No. 12? Would Fant's skills better fit the Packers? I know they're just mocks but you guys saw them in person, is it justified in your eyes?

I have no frame of reference for which type of tight end LaFleur prefers in his offense. However, Fant probably would have been a better fit for the offense McCarthy ran. Hybrids tended to fare better in his offense than traditional in-line tight ends. LaFleur has won with both in his previous stops.

Nato from Suwanee, GA

Insiders, according to my count we have 20 free agents on the books. I understand that we will re-sign many of them but I’m wondering how that number ranks among other teams? How does it rank among other seasons?

That 18-20 range is pretty much par for the course in Green Bay and across the league barring a total rebuild.

Mitchell from Maple Grove, MN

Can you briefly explain the differences between unrestricted, restricted, and exclusive rights free agents?

Unrestricted free agents are veterans with an expiring contract and at least four accrued seasons. They also count towards the compensatory equation. Restricted free agents are players with three accrued seasons. They must receive one of three tenders for a team to maintain the player’s rights. An exclusive rights free agent is a player with fewer than three accrued seasons. If their previous team issues them a contract, they’re required to sign it to play in the NFL that next season.

Braden from Aurora, CO

How does someone like Eric Weddle sign with a new team already? From my understanding, the negotiation window opens today and FA begins on the 13th?

Weddle was cut by the Ravens. He didn’t have an expiring contract. That makes him a street free agent and eligible to sign with any team at any time.

JR from East Moline, IL

Do you think if NFL contracts were fully guaranteed that players would be more willing to sign contracts that don't take up so much of the cap space? Like, do you think that the fear of injury or being cut after just one year of a contract makes players try to get the biggest contracts as possible?

Players and agents are always going to try for the biggest deal they can. They’d be foolish not to. I think fully guaranteed contracts probably would result in more two- and three-year deals. Right now, teams signing veterans to five- and six-year deals are doing that to spread out that guaranteed signing bonus and ease the cap burden.

David from Appleton, WI

The Packers have a decent amount of cap room currently. Re-signing all our prospective 2019 free agents is not economically practical, nor advisable. Who do you see as free agents of the (near) future where the Packers should use some of the cap room to sign longer term contracts? In other words, who are your "must-sign” players on the roster now?

The 2016 draft class is next up for extensions and there are some good ones in there with Blake Martinez, Kyler Fackrell and Dean Lowry. Kenny Clark technically could be a free agent next spring, but I’d imagine the Packers will exercise his fifth-year option as a former first-round pick.

Cyler from Spanish Fork, UT

We’re always talking about fourth-round offensive linemen. How about Za’Darius Smith from Baltimore? I like his underdog story.

He’s had an interesting journey from East Mississippi Community College to Kentucky to Baltimore. As a mid-round find, Smith had impressive production with the Ravens. We’ll see what free agency holds for him.

Ronald from Cheyenne, WY

I really feel John Kuhn was a real loss to the Pack. I know our new head coach is a proponent of the run, so it seems like we really need a great fullback for short-yardage situations. We all saw the same lack of success this past season in short-yardage situations, didn't we? What is the chance we could pick up a good replacement fullback in this year’s draft? Or will they try to sign one after the draft?

I don’t know how many fullbacks will be drafted this year. Alec Ingold is considered the top one of the market and it’s not a given he’ll be selected. LaFleur and Gutekunst said they’re not opposed to keeping a fullback, but it has to be the right guy. At this moment, Danny Vitale and Lavon Coleman are the two candidates currently on the roster.

Corey from Whitehall, PA

Since all of the top premier pass rushers are now tagged and the draft is very unpredictable, do the odds of re-signing Clay Matthews increase?

The Packers have been upfront about their desire to have Matthews back if it makes sense for everyone. I don’t think the market affects it. While teams have been busy negotiating with edge rushers, I don’t think anything that’s happened over last 24 hours comes as a surprise.

Greg from Toluca, IL

How much contact are teams allowed with free agents prior to today’s start of actual agreements? Reading what is being agreed upon, I’m just wondering how the free agents decide which team to sign with, contract details, etc.

Teams are not permitted to contact players directly during the legal tampering period, but can negotiate the parameters of a contract with their agent. Agents shop those numbers with potential suitors and find the best offer.

Jeremy from Evansville, IL

I have a hard time believing the Cardinals aren’t trying to hype up the quarterbacks to try and trade out of the top spot. In my mind, Nick Bosa is still the best player in this draft, but if they can draw a booty for Kyler Murray, they have to pull the trigger on a trade. The way I see it, San Francisco has to be licking their chops at No. 2, because it feels like they are going to get their favorite prospect at the position they hold.

Possibly. I’ll just add Bosa has question marks, too, with an incomplete college resume. There’s a lot for the Cardinals to consider. I made a comment last year about drafting a QB until you definitely find one. Arizona could test that theory.

Jason from Austin, TX

Do you think Antonio Brown's contract/antics helped or hurt other superstars? I could see it going either way. Is the power now in the player's hands (like the NBA) or will owners hesitate to sign long-term guaranteed contracts to superstars in case they do what Brown just did? In either case, I see this being a topic during the next CBA and I would imagine it's not going to help the negotiation process. What are your thoughts?

Love him or hate him, Brown got what he wanted. He leveraged his performance into a new NFL home and fresh contract. I’m never going to fault someone for wanting to get paid what he or she feels they’re worth. My advice to Packers fans – be grateful for Davante. A superstar in the hand is worth two in the offseason abyss.

Dale from Prescott, WI

Since the snow might be done falling now, was wondering when your cars are parked outside during a snowstorm, are you a wipers up or down guy? I prefer up, easier to clean the windshield and the blades don’t freeze down. Thoughts?

I see coworkers put their wipers up every time it’s going to snow, but mine don’t have that kind of dexterity. I just have to deal with it.

Dale from Owatonna, MN

Since it’s more than 40 days to the draft, another family story. My mom was going to the Packers game with my grandpa and grandma, driving from Antigo. They got near Shawano and my grandpa says, "Boy, I sure wish we had brought the piano,” to which my Grandma asks, “Why in the world would we need to have the piano with us for a Packers game?" Without missing a beat my grandpa turned the car around and said, "Because that's where I left the tickets."

That’s a nasty, nasty line. Sounds like he pulled it off, too.

Luke from Lake Delton, WI

Regarding your statement that LaFleur's number was "3" at Saginaw Valley State, I must mention that number is retired for Tony Canadeo. Which leads to my question: How do you feel about fans getting a custom jersey with their name, but with an already retired number?

Who cares? It’s not like LaFleur is gonna look into the crowd and shout, “Winkelsmith! Yeah, you No. 3, get in there.”

Team photographer Evan Siegle shares some of his favorite images of the 2018 season.

Woody from Kill Devil Hills, NC

62.8 percent can correctly pronounce "Ashwaubenon." What a great answer. 62.8 is the percentile of the mean for many skewed (non-Normal a.k.a. Gaussian) distributions - as we have learned, many characteristics of humans follow a non-Normal distribution. Over 10 semesters of statistics have taught me this. How many classes of stats have you had?

One. My junior year at Bay Port.

Matt from Waunakee, WI

So…what percentage of Inbox readers would make a better GM than all of the GMs in the NFL?

Not 62.8.

Nick from Dallas, TX

Maybe it's just me, but I'd love to watch a Super Bowl at Ashwaubenon High. It might simplify the game a little since they wouldn't have room for all the distractions before the game and during halftime. Gimme Ashwaubenon in 2020.

I’ll only agree to this if Ken Golomski does the opening coin toss.

Steve from Wabasha, MN

I'm originally from Milwaukee. There was a place near Marquette called Real Chili and they served their chili over noodles cooked separately. My question: Is it still there?

It is. My wife is a Marquette alumnus. I saw it when I participated in Al’s Run last fall.

Lee from Cedar Rapids, IA

I know this won’t get printed, as it has no real Packers value, but real chili does not have beans.

Amen, Lee. Amen. Spoff is back tomorrow. Have a good week, everyone.

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