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Inbox: Aaron Rodgers played, and led, like an MVP in 2020

The fans are what make Lambeau Field special

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QB Aaron Rodgers

Megan from Quincy, IL

I would like to applaud the Packers/Lambeau Field staff for all they did to make it safe for fans to attend games. I was a little hesitant to travel but still was ready to get out of the house and watch a live game. I was pretty upset I wasn't able to attend the divisional game but was excited to get tickets to the championship game. While bizarre, it was nice to have extra room and no lines for the bathroom or concessions. So thank you for keeping us all safe.

As someone who had family at the two playoff games, I commend the Packers for how well they handled things. The organization did the right thing in making sure proper protocols were in place before welcoming ticketed fans back. Spoff said it better than I ever could last week – a full crowd may never be more appreciated than the next time it happens. The playoffs give me hope for 2021, because the fans are what make Lambeau Field special.

Mick from La Crosse, WI

All-in? A 28-8 two-year record. Six free agents starting (Za'Darius Smith in the Pro Bowl, Adrian Amos very good). Homegrown talent like Kenny Clark, Jaire Alexander, David Bakhtiari, Corey Linsley, Elgton Jenkins and Aaron Jones. Aaron Rodgers is the MVP and a dominant receiver in Davante Adams. All during a year, when in April and May, we didn't know if we'd see any sports again, ever. Greatness to absolute excellence equals front office, coaches and players doing all the small things right all the time (Lombardi). That's all-in to me... what am I missing?

The Packers had the tools to contend with the team they put on the field last Sunday. Just because Green Bay scored five fewer points than Tampa Bay on Jan. 24, 2021, doesn't make any of that any less true. All-in or not all-in, fans can label it however they want – but this team belonged.

Carolyn from St Cloud, FL

Thank you, Mike and Wes, for keeping us entertained and educated during a wonderful season from our great Packers. Thank you to the fans who were able to attend playoff games in person and made enough noise for all of us. Now, can we take down that depressing score and ugly Buccaneers flag from the top of the site?

I'll look into it.

Scott from Wausau, WI

Hello, when a season ends, what happens with free agents? Do they clean out lockers and turn in playbooks? Do they begin the waiting game to see if the Packers want them back before the new league year starts in March? Do free agents still have access to the facilities? Are their contracts still viable until the new league year starts? I am disappointed with the abrupt finish but what a great season in a very difficult time: THANK YOU GREEN BAY PACKERS! Bring back "Big Bob!"

Free agents clean out their lockers and hand in their iPads. While their contracts expire, free agents can exclusively negotiate with their team until the free-agency window opens. That's what led to Mason Crosby re-signing with Green Bay on 2-22-2020. Free agents also are allowed to continue working out at the facility until the end of February. At least, that's how it worked pre-COVID.

Mike from Holton, MI

What do the Packers need to take the next step?

Build on what they've done the past two seasons. Nobody expected the Packers to have back-to-back 13-3 seasons and advance to consecutive NFC title games when Matt LaFleur was hired on Jan. 8, 2019. But they accomplished that way ahead of schedule. I know some fans pushed back when I said the Packers were in an advantageous position heading into next year but it is true. While some tough calls lie ahead, Green Bay is still in a prime position to win a championship based on how this roster has been built. The Packers need to make the right calls in free agency, have a good draft in April and get back to work.

Sawyer from Greenville, SC

I'm probably in the minority but I'm very sad to see Mike Pettine go. I thought he had a great scheme, took the best of Dom Capers with the 'Psycho' package, and overall had a unit on the rise that was only held back by injuries. I hope whoever they get is worth the upgrade, because he is going to be successful wherever he ends up.

It's not easy being a defensive coordinator in a league ruled by offense but the Packers' defense got its swagger back under Pettine over the past three years. Hopefully whoever takes over can take this unit to the next level – because it's close to becoming a dominant defense. The pieces are there.

Gordon from Newport Beach, CA

Mike, Jerry Gray seems like clear choice for DC. Will that "be the way?"

I don't know what Matt LaFleur is looking for in his next defensive coordinator (he talks at 9 a.m. CT) but there are several qualified assistants already on staff. Gray is among them, having already done it before at the NFL level.

Bob from Fisher, IL

Mike and Wes, good morning! As many other faithful readers have said, thank you for your thoughts, attitudes and interesting comments in the II this year – and for a long time. I wanted to agree with Wes on his response to Mike from Mebane about special teams. I am not a big gambler. I want special teams play to at least not hurt the team first. If we get a big play, that is great but mistakes on special teams can doom an otherwise great game. Thanks again, fellas, for everything!

Big plays are awesome. I mean who didn't love the Tim Masthay shovel pass to Tom Crabtree? But that was the last thing on my mind last year. There were too many times where a pit formed in your stomach anytime there was a kickoff or the punt team came out. As I said last week, the Packers need to shore their coverage units up and get JK Scott back on the right track – because he has way too much talent to finish 28th in net punting.

Jimmy from Rockford, IL

What do you think the chances are that Marcedes Lewis is back next year? Big Dog deserves a Super Bowl.

If Lewis wants to play, I see no reason why he wouldn't be back for Year 16. Big Dog isn't someone who's easily replaced – as a player or as a person. Just ask Jacksonville.

Ian from Kirkwhelpington, England

With the cap potentially dropping, I am surprised there is not pressure on the league office to confirm the number earlier to allow negotiations to be finalized. Do you see FAs looking to do one- or two-year contracts in the hope of a better deal in the future or is the risk of injury such that both players and teams will want longer term deals, albeit for different reasons?

Executives will have a good idea of what the range will be well before that. There's even some reports out that it could be announced in the next couple weeks. You would think you'd see more short-term deals but those contracts often carry a higher cap number in Year 1 than a three- or four-year deals. But my guess is you'll see higher signing bonuses and lower base salaries, allowing teams to lower the cap number for 2021 by prorating the guaranteed money. For example, if the Jaguars sign Michael K. Spofford to a one-year, $10 million deal. That's his cap number for 2021. Now if the Panthers sign Weston L. Hodkiewicz to a four-year, $40 million contract with a Year 1 base salary of $2 million with a $15 million signing bonus, then my cap number could be as low as $5.75 million (base, plus one-fourth of the bonus).

Rodney from Colleyville, TX

Can the Packers draft for positions that would enhance the defensive backfield?

I checked the NFL rulebook and this appears to be allowed.

Ken from Arvada, CO

2020 was a challenging year, and required adjustments everywhere in life. Some of the positive adjustments were the changes made to the practice squad rules. I feel that with very rare exceptions (all of Denver's QBs being in COVID protocol yet the team still had to play is the most glaring) the changes allowed teams to field a great, competitive product each week. Looking in your crystal ball, do you see some or most of those temporary rules becoming permanent?

The expanded practice squad was one of the few positives that came out of 2020. It helped previously ineligible veterans stay in the game and provided young players extra time to develop after a truncated offseason program and training camp. I hope it sticks around.

Bill from Raleigh, NC

Hi II, I admire Mike's response to Jesus, but it is painful drafting a QB in the first round who never sees the field. When Rashan Gary was drafted in the first round, the team could let his ability, progress, and competition dictate whether he'd be a star, a bust, or something in-between. We have seen what happens when a not-the-greatest backup has to take over for an injured AR. Love was a high value pick that we fortunately haven't yet needed. Football is even a tough game for GMs.

Draft choices are investments. I think back to when Brian Gutekunst traded the No. 14 pick in 2018, acquiring an extra first-rounder in 2019, before moving back up and still getting Jaire Alexander 18th overall. The Packers made an investment in Jordan Love last year – a quarterback that no fan has seen thrown a football yet with a Packers jersey on his back. I don't know what's ahead, but I do know Aaron Rodgers played, and led, like an MVP in 2020. I'll leave the future to the future.

Eddie from La Crosse, WI

Happy Monday, Mike and Wes! Do you have an opinion on the Stafford-Goff trade? We, armchair GMs, have been feasting on this one...

Stafford is one of the most underrated QBs of this generation. This was the perfect time for a change of scenery to a contending team, while Detroit rebuilds for the umpteenth time. It's also the fresh start the Rams and Jared Goff probably needed. Les Snead isn't shy about trading future draft capital for established playmakers. The Stafford trade will put that philosophy to the test and determine how wide the Rams' Super Bowl window stays open.

Ryan from Noblesville, IN

Well, the first big offseason move has been made. Stafford/Goff swap but the Lions also got two first-round picks and a third. Seems to me the Lions made out pretty well on this deal. What do you think? And I hope this doesn't start Inbox submissions about trading Rodgers because I don't care if we could get six first-round, a second-, a third-, and two fourth-rounders, I wouldn't trade him but rather see him play until he's ready to retire.

One other thing to keep in mind is that's a mighty large contract with a lot of guaranteed money that the Lions are inheriting with Goff. So there is some risk involved.

Jim from Thousand Oaks, CA

Now we get to see which strategy works better. All-in with Stafford going to the Rams who "only" need that star QB or the Lions with the draft picks. At least I don't have to worry about the Pack facing Stafford twice a year.

Stafford went only 7-13 with an 89.9 passer rating in starts against Green Bay but I highly doubt Mike McCarthy, Dom Capers, LaFleur or Pettine ever slept soundly the night before facing the Lions when Stafford was behind center. Regardless of the record, Stafford always gave the Lions a chance.

Joe from Wausau, WI

Quinn Meinerz, of Wisconsin-Whitewater, was the talk of Senior Bowl practice! Who knew?

Meinerz was the MVP of the Senior Bowl the second he stepped out of the locker room. The PFWA might as well pencil him in for the 2021 All-Rookie Team now.

James from Waynesboro, VA

Good morning Wes and Mike! Responding to Andy from Columbus, TX. I'm snowed in here in central VA so I took the time to do the research and our 292-167-2 record since Brett Favre's first start ranks second only to New England (305-157-0) during that span. We're one win better than Pittsburgh and they have 26 more wins than the fourth-place Colts (265-196-0). Also, sans NE, no team has more than four SB appearances (GB has three) and no more than three wins (GB has two). Can't argue with how GB does things!

Leave it to the Inboxers to get to the bottom of this. We had so many people contribute, including Mike from St. Louis, Daniel from Los Angeles and Karl from Valparaiso. Nobody's numbers were the same but the Packers were in second or third on everybody's list. And for the "Only Super Bowls matter" crowd, it's an exclusive club of NFL teams that have won at least two Lombardi Trophies since 1992.

Nikolai from Greenbush, WI

How many years, after a crushing defeat that will haunt the franchise for many seasons to come, can you come up with "We're still good," "It was a heck of a ride!" "we're optimistic about next year" columns? Answer: Forever--if you're a company patsy that spews out pablum for a living.

If you're looking for a fight, Spoff will be back tomorrow. I'm sure he'll have his laptop ready. Until then, I say good day, sir! I said good day!

Frank from Beaverdam, VA

Like a lot of folks, I have my opinion about why the Packers lost. However, if you guys post this Monday, I will be in surgery to have a heart valve fixed or replaced. I've got bigger fish to fry. So, I'd like to make Wes an offer. My wife and I talked about a few things we can do once I recover and Lambeau was mentioned. If we come to Lambeau, lunch is on me. And if Spoff tries to steal your leftovers, I will gladly take the 15-yard penalty and block him in the back.

And just when I needed a reminder of why we do this column, Frank puts life in perspective. Sending positive vibes and prayers your way, Frank. I look forward to seeing you on the other side of this thing.

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