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Inbox: Anything can happen this time of year

Every once in a while one trait leads a team to finding a gem


Jesse from Akaska, SD

It sounds as though the clown found the circus on Saturday night. So thankful the Packers were not part of the sideshow. Hopefully, the II can move on now. Happy Monday everyone.

Hopefully, this buys me at least a 24-hour sabbatical from hypothetical trades. Good morning!

Dan from Prescott, AZ

I say trade for Dee Ford with a second-rounder and hope Arizona is silly enough to take Kyler with the first pick.

Never mind.

Paul from Las Vegas, NV

I have to think the likes of an Earl Thomas or Tyrann Mathieu would catapult us to a top-level defense. I read about the possible landing spots for these top-tier, game-changing, free agents and we're not mentioned. I've also read we'll be a part of every conversation regarding free agency. In your opinion, is there a chance?

Anything can happen this time of year. Sometimes that results in Reggie White, Charles Woodson or Julius Peppers signing, and sometimes it's just chatter. It's been a long, long time since the Packers signed an established safety in free agency, but I think everyone understands the need.

Sid from Kenosha, WI

Insiders, Packers nation can agree we need a safety in either FA/draft. I see Gutey getting one from both but all the talk about signing Landon Collins is not really filling a need. I like his style of play but he has shown he is more of a box safety Morgan Burnett. I'd like to hope Gutey is thinking of Honey Badger to play deep and be that ball hawk and put faith in Josh Jones's development to be our strong safety. Seems he has become the forgotten man on defense. Going into Year 3, he has got to be a starter.

Jones is in the conversation, but think about all the safeties the Packers ran through in 2019. Jones, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Kentrell Brice, Raven Greene, Ibraheim Campbell, Eddie Pleasant and Jermaine Whitehead all played, and Tramon Williams finished the year on the back end. Having two safeties start every game is ideal, but you need options. The best Packers defenses over the last 12 years have had ball-hawking free safeties.

Max from Troy, MO

Would you rather trade for a tagged Ford or sign a released Justin Houston?

Houston, who already turned 30 in January, is enticing. A reminder that two of the Packers' best signings over the last decade – Peppers and Jared Cook – came to Green Bay after being cap casualties elsewhere.

Drew from Melrose, WI

I saw an II answer to a question about weighing film of a prospect more heavily over his athleticism. Does that change at all in the later rounds of the draft, when there might be less film or fewer highlights of a given player?

First, there's no shortage of film. At least, not when it comes to players in the FBS. I think it was Eliot Wolf who hit it on the head years ago when he talked about how the Packers look for traits with late-round prospects. You're not getting an all-around player, so you go after guys who excel in a particular area (e.g. speed, size or strength). Every once in a while those attributes lead a team to finding a Donald Driver, Scott Wells or Adam Timmerman.

Tim from Trempealeau, WI

How many undrafted free agents do the Packers usually invite to camp?

By the time it's all said and done, the Packers usually have around 20-25 undrafted rookies in camp every year.

Richard from Racine, WI

Have the Packers had a No. 12 pick in any previous drafts – who did they pick? How well did the player or players perform?

The last time the Packers drafted at No. 12 was in 1984 when they selected Florida State defensive end Alphonso Carreker. He played in Green Bay for five years before later playing in a Super Bowl with the Broncos.

Todd from Brighton, MI

Which of the following is most important for the Packers to have a top 10 defense? 1) King and Alexander healthy entire season. 2) Impact front-seven draft pick 3) 2018 rookies take big step 4) FA safety 5) all of the above?

It would be way too easy to say all of the above, so I'll go with No. 1. Alexander and King are the future of the secondary. If those two stay on the field, it would remedy a lot of what ailed Green Bay's defense in recent years.

Paul from Minneapolis, MN

Of all the crazy questions you receive, where does this rank: "Will Lambeau ever get a Super Bowl?"

I'd still take that over – "If Player X and Player Y are on the board at No. 12/30, who will the Packers take?"

Jim from McLean, VA

That was an impressive list of players who have come back to retire as a Packer. Is that seen with most teams in the NFL, or are the Packers an outlier? Who is the next current non-Packer to come back and retire in Green Bay?

It happens across the league, but I'd say the Packers have ranked near the top in players who come back and retire with the team. Regardless of what happens or how long he plays, I'd like to see Jordy Nelson retire that way someday.

Darrin from Sun Prairie, WI

My wife needs a new Packers jersey and she was having a tough time deciding. She then turns to me and says, "Do they make jerseys for Coach LaFleur or just something with his name on it?" At least, maybe she will watch more pregame and postgame coverage with me.

The Packers Pro Shop doesn't make any Matt LaFleur apparel, but if you're one of those custom-jersey types, his number at Saginaw Valley was '3.'

Larry from Warwick, RI

Has beating Dallas over the years become more important than beating the Bears?


Derrick from Rockaway, NJ

If the Packers were to use significant draft capital for a top pass rusher in a trade, do you think that would signify a win-now mentality?

It would have to, for better or for worse. Not only are they trading away a premium pick, but they're also locked into a marquee contract that's going to put a dent in the cap.

Denise from Cape Coral, FL

The Lions released T.J. Lang. The Pack need a guard. Does T.J. have anything "left in the tank" and do you think GB has interest in our former Pro Bowler?

I know it meant a great deal to T.J. to return to Michigan, so I'm not sure how much he wants to move his family again. I read he's considering retirement. I'm not going to speculate on his situation other than to say Lang has a bright future after football, especially if he decides to get into this racket. The guy was Barstool before all that stuff was cool.

Kevin from Asbury Park, NJ

I'm not sure I understand exactly what happens to a released player, can you feel me out? So, for example, Justin Houston was just released from Kansas City because they were unable to trade him due to teams not wanting to pick up his salary. Now, he's a free agent and a team that wants to sign him has to work out a whole new deal with him? Does Kansas City still have to pay him some of his salary?

Kansas City doesn't have to pay Houston anything other than the guaranteed money written in his contract, which likely has already been paid. As a "street" free agent who has been released, Houston is now eligible to sign a whole new deal with any team he wants.

Steve from Lake Stevens, WA

If a team was considering a trade for a player like Dee Ford, how do they go about determining if he is a player who has "arrived" or if his 13 sacks last season were an anomaly?

The same way they all do it – look at the film and trust your instincts.

Tom from Jordan, MN

With the Steelers trading Antonio Brown, why do they still have a reported 21 million cap hit on the books for this year? Chili over rice is the way to go. Thanks.

That's the remnants of the contract extension Brown signed in 2017 and his 2018 restructure that converted base salary to a signing bonus. When a player is cut or traded, the remaining prorated signing bonus and any guaranteed money is accelerated to create that "dead" cap number.

Donna from Darien, WI

Any thoughts on the Antonio Brown trade?

I don't think you could call it a "win" for the Steelers, but at least it allows them to move forward. I love the trade for the Raiders. I mean what do you have to lose at this point? It's kind of interesting Brown will now share a position room with Nelson and Edgar Bennett. The NFL is a small world.

Chris from Atlanta, GA

Hey guys. You do incredible work. Thank you. I don't have to ask if NFL scouts are keeping close tabs on the AAF, but I imagine they must be almost giddy about the easy extra looks at these available players! My question is, do you think the look at these players will have any effect on the draft, particularly the later rounds? AAF rosters include NFL practice-squad players. Are practice-squad players free agents at the end of each NFL season?

I doubt anything that happens in the AAF would affect an NFL team's draft plans, but I'm sure a handful of standouts will find their way to NFL 90-man rosters in training camp. Practice-squad players are free agents at the end of the year, but most sign "futures" contracts with their team once the season is over. It's not like NFL Europe, where practice-squad players currently under contract are allowed to play in the AAF.

Barton from Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico

I love the kicking game and specials teams in the NFL, especially since extra-point kicks are now longer and almost always dramatic. Therefore, I don't care for the AAF rule in which teams that score a touchdown have to go for two. What AAF rule do you find to be an improvement over current NFL rules?

It's not a rule, per se, but I enjoy hearing the officials discuss calls. I also think they're onto something with removing the on-side kick. I don't think it's perfected yet, but the AAF and Broncos might be onto something.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

The state of Florida State football has many fans here apoplectic. Any insight that you have about ex-Badger quarterback Alex Hornibrook for me to pass on, would be appreciated.

Spoff is the Wisconsin expert, so he can talk more about Hornibrook's exploits as a quarterback. One thing I learned in Indianapolis, though, is how much his teammates respected him. Alec Ingold was effusive in his praise of both Hornibrook's leadership and toughness. Hopefully, the concussion issues are behind him and he can finish his college career on a high note.

Aaron from Tamborine, Australia

I may be coming in a bit late here, and if so, I apologize for my tardiness, but can we expect any Prospect Primers this year and when?

Spoff, Larry and I are busy working on them. Once the scripts are written, we'll work with our video department to get them churned out. The plan is to start running them next Monday.

John from Denver, CO

Thank goodness the Brown talk can finally cease. Who will be the next FA obsession?

The thing I love most about fans obsessing over players is the cycle resets whenever the next Pro Bowler is either released or demands a trade. Time is a flat circle.

John from Sheboygan, WI

Noodles are fine for chili, but should be cooked separately and added to each serving as desired so said noodles don't become mush.

Absolutely. We're not savages.

Craigly from Grand Rapids, MI

Come on, Wes! If you put noodles in, it becomes pasta with meat sauce and beans.

I had a discussion with my father about this Sunday night. He echoed a few comments made in Inbox Saturday – his parents put noodles in their chili to feed their nine children. So who am I to argue with Norman and Monica Hod? If it was good enough for them, then it's good enough for me.

Eddie from La Crosse, WI

Mike and Wes, if you want to talk chili, then let's talk CHILI! When you and the Packers go to Cincinnati in 2021, treat yourself to Cincinnati-style chili at any of the Skyline diners. Order a large three-way (spaghetti-chili-sharp cheddar cheese) or make it a four-way (with beans) or a five-way (with onions)! And maybe some cheese coneys for dessert. Oyster crackers are complimentary, too!

OK. Kindly send me a reminder two years from now.

James from Austin, TX

Is a chili-dog a sandwich?

No. Tell me you didn't just ask that.

Dan from Tallahassee, FL

So … what percentage of your readers do you think can correctly pronounce 'Ashwaubenon?'


John from Scottsdale, AZ

Are you more grateful for those who faithfully read II every day or those who, after a tough week, binge read on the weekend? I do enjoy the larger number of II's available in the app during off season, which affords more opportunity for binging.

I appreciate them all. I don't care when you read. I don't care where you read. If you're here, that's a win for us. Have a great Monday, people.