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Inbox: Calling the audible was a no-brainer

It’s the way the league works

An overall general view of Lucas Oil Stadium during the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

Dave from Lake Zurich, IL

What's a mauer?

All that matters is you don't want to be one.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

Mike, I can see the relief on your face all the way from Tally.

To Wattever could you be referring? Oh, I'm not out of the woods yet.

Bob from Myrtle Beach, SC

People angered that GB didn't match $31 million with $23 million guaranteed. So, they also want Aaron Jones, Corey Linsley, and Jamaal Williams re-signed. Of course, GB won't have to cut a lot of players to do this. Kids in a candy store?

When the dentist is as imaginary as the tooth fairy, yeah.

Matt from Ford City, PA

Mike, any interest in Richard Sherman? I like him as my CB2 and not a rookie, or King.

Now that Watt has signed, I declare this forum shall not – I repeat, shall not – revert to the Richard Sherman, Richard Sherman, Richard Sherman era.

Justin from Los Angeles, CA

NFC West looks like even more of a slugfest now. I'd enjoy them all beating up on each other more if we didn't have to play them this year, but at least the rest of the NFC North does too...?

The Rams have Stafford and now the Cardinals have Watt, but the division may not be done changing with the QB situations as they are in Seattle and San Francisco. Last season, Arizona was 8-6 needing one more win for its first playoff berth since 2015 but couldn't get it. This is the push to get to the craps table.

Jim from Prairie du Chien, WI

I used to love the saying that we have one mouth and two ears for a reason, but then I discovered the Inbox where everyone has 10 fingers and nobody is afraid to use them.

Just keep the middle ones to yourselves, please.

Bob from Rome, NY

Mike, your response to a question about the draft was, "They should focus on players at positions of need who fit the scheme, the locker room, and the cap." I am a BAP person. Your thoughts?

There seem to be several people who misread that item. That was a response to a question about free agency, not the draft.

Michelle from Ringgold, GA

What do you think the chances are that the Packers make it back to the playoffs next year?

As long as Aaron Rodgers is playing quarterback, I'd say pretty good. Since he got his first year as a starter under his belt, only once when he has played a full season have the Packers failed to make the playoffs, so I like those odds.

Clipton from Pasadena, CA

Do you know why the NFL gave up on the combine this year? It's a revenue generator and I would think it would be far easier to manage the COVID risk there with no fans as opposed to the Super Bowl. Plus, having innumerable pro days would seem to create more of a COVID risk than a single well-managed event. What am I missing?

The combine collects every non-player who's anybody in the NFL (coaches, scouts, personnel executives) plus 300 draft-eligible prospects and countless media in Indianapolis for a week. No fans aside, the volume of league personnel dwarfs what converges on the Super Bowl. Managing the COVID risk would be a nightmare of gigantic proportions. In addition, the most valuable aspects of the combine to the teams are the medical checks and in-person interviews, which couldn't be conducted in the normal fashion while mitigating risk. So calling the audible was a no-brainer.

Joshua from Houston, TX

I haven't heard a lot about players retiring besides potentially Drew Brees. Have any big names announced anything yet?

Philip Rivers, Jason Witten, Greg Olsen, Thomas Davis, Anthony Castonzo, and Vance McDonald are all notable names who have retired since the end of the 2020 season.

Terry from Rothschild, WI

As a diehard sheepshead player and Packer owner/fan, where do I get my T-shirt? "Better to be bumped once than forever labeled a mauer." Do you know if any of the players or coaches play sheepshead?

One year my seat on the plane was at the very back of the "staff" section, right in front of the first segment of players, where Rodgers, Kuhn, Mason Crosby and Masthay would play sheepshead regularly (I can't recall if they had a fifth player, or if they played four-handed). It wasn't my place to intrude, but overhearing the banter brought back a flood of college memories.

Rex from Laramie, WY

For the first time in years, thanks to the pandemic, I got my taxes off to my accountant early. The question about where the players pay taxes got me wondering, though. Who keeps track of that? Do the Packers have an accounting team for the players, or is each player responsible for his own preparation?

Well, the payroll department breaks out my wages in other states from road trips on my W-2, so I would imagine the players get the same info. My income level is such that I don't always have to file in those other states (shocker, right?), but when I do, I'm on my own. I'm sure the players have their own accountants or their agencies manage it.

Matt from Waunakee, WI

To Ron from Waukesha: We could be paying Kirk Cousins 20% of our salary cap.

Or Jared Goff.

Terry from Canton, MI

Wilson and Watson are both reportedly at odds with ownership over direction their teams are taking. Not sure how dissatisfied Rodgers is, doubt anyone really know except Aaron himself. My question is, are we seeing the beginning of a major change in player/team relations? Elite QBs are realizing their power and starting to exercise it. Last change that big in player/team dynamics, was free agency, before that maybe players hiring agents. Just a thought.

I want to see how these Wilson and Watson situations play out before pronouncing we've reached a dynamic shift on the scale of the advent of free agency. I can appreciate any QB's frustrations. But every team makes personnel mistakes no matter how good faith their efforts are to build a winner, and uncontrollable injuries factor into any team's fortunes or direction. By the same token, every club's margin for error is also narrowed by the size of the contract the QB commands, and every QB in his heart knows this, whether he's making other demands of ownership or not.

Dan from Middleton, WI

The question about quarterback cap hits got me to thinking. Do you think there would ever be a time that the quarterback gets pulled out of the overall cap hit and ends up with some other salary restriction to allow for more freedom on contracts? For example, instead of a $180M cap, the cap drops to $150M with a quarterback cap of $40M, and some sort of incentive to maximize the amount you are under the quarterback cap.

In a word (or three), not a chance.

Gary from Sheboygan, WI

Good morning Insiders. If you had to trade player X, would you prefer an extra second-round draft pick this year with minimal footage or evaluation of this year's class, or a second-round pick next year with a more complete evaluation of players available next year?

My choice wouldn't have to do with the potential depth of evaluation. It would depend on which team's pick, and where it the round it sits relative to a guess as to where it might sit the following year.

Packers S Adrian Amos celebrates his birthday Apr. 29. Take a look at photos of him from the 2020 season.

Caroline from Olympia, WA

What's our biggest need going into the draft?

To be determined. There's a lot that must be sorted out first.

Mary from Toledo, OH

Wondered if you have a feel for what the 2021 season will look like in terms of allowing fans in the stands. It sure would be nice to get back to normal attendance.

Also TBD. The news on vaccines continues to be positive, so let's hope it remains so. But I suspect we're months away from any definitive news on that front for the 2021 season.

Dan from Twin Lakes, WI

Oh it's on, now. Jodie Foster may very well come to regret messing with our favorite criminal genius. Which brings me to the actual question I've been meaning to ask: Do you guys happen to know, or can you find out, how long Aaron was photobombing the captains' photos before anyone realized it or before it became common knowledge? Thanks!

I got here in 2006 and it didn't take long that season for me to learn about his ritual. I don't know for certain if he actually started his rookie year (2005) or not.

Russ from Henrico, VA

Speaking of career longevity and earning potential, there has been a significant sea change over the years. I can remember working at my father's business in the summers as a teenager. One of the highlights was when Ken Willard, Pro Bowl RB for the 49ers, would stop by to try and sell us insurance. Football was an August-to-December thing. Nice salaries were there, but no one was going to live out their lives on their football earnings.

The explosion of television and football's popularity in living rooms changed all that.

Robert from Glasgow, DE

Mike, regarding the consternation of resigning Aaron Jones. He was a fifth-round pick. For the last three years he has greatly outperformed his contract and has been way, way underpaid. If his career ended now, for what he has accomplished, he has been paid peanuts. I want him to be a Packer, but he definitely deserves to be paid his market value as a star for his second contract. Gutey please work it out.

I want the Packers to keep Jones, too. But the negotiations on his next contract have absolutely nothing – zero, zilch, nada – to do with his first contract. I also believe Jones will get his market value. It's just a matter of whether or not it'll be the Packers paying it to him. When you have seven Pro Bowlers and six guys who make first- or second-team All-Pro, you can't pay everybody. It's the way the league works.

Check out photos of every Packers defensive turnover during the 2020 season.

Derek from Norton, KS

Good morning! What are your thoughts on analytics and the major differences between them and the public perception of a player's ability? Tyrann Mathieu is an example of a player that receives many accolades for his play, but most analytics place him near the bottom of the league at his position.

With a player like Mathieu, I think the question is whether the difference might be relative to the value of big plays in wins and losses. Mathieu has 11 interceptions over the last two years (including playoffs). That's a big, game-changing number when there's so much emphasis on protecting the ball.

David from Presque Isle, WI

Steve from Marinette took his young son to the Charger game in 1996. My brother and I took our 90-year-old father to celebrate his birthday to the same game. It's all about memories.

Other than my companion that day, what I remember most was Butler's long pick-six and thinking how easy that Packers team was making everything look that September.

Lyle from St. Louis, MO

Spoff, in the movie "City Slickers," the character Curly holds up his index finger and says the secret of life is "one thing." What is it for Brian Gutekunst this offseason? The defense? A CB? A NT? Restructuring AR's contract? The R1 pick?

You answered your own question – there isn't just one thing. There never is, and anyone who thinks there is has already lost.

Eddie from La Crosse, WI

Mike, in light of the recent events in the area, there is definitely only one question to ask you: Have you fired up the charcoal grill yet? It's almost SPRING!

I have not yet, but I've definitely been tempted. I also don't want to tempt fate, however.

Mike from Franksville, WI

Do you see the Packers making a trade with the Cardinals for J.J. Watt? I'll see myself out.

Please do. Happy Tuesday.