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Inbox: He gave the Packers an answer to a decade-long search

There’s still plenty of ways to navigate these waters and keep climbing

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CB Keisean Nixon

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

Just woke from a weeklong bad dream, when is the Packers' playoff game this weekend?

I'm sorry, Margeaux. Unfortunately for the Packers, there's no Bobby Ewing in this shower.

TK from Grafton, WI

Why did it take so long to discover No. 25?

I'm sure the Raiders are asking themselves the same thing. The good news for the Packers is Keisean Nixon's potential revealed itself this season in Green Bay. People love to play the hindsight game when it comes to player development, but you don't always know until you know. I am happy for Nixon, though. Ten months ago, this guy wasn't even tendered a restricted free-agent contract from Las Vegas. Now, he's All-Pro. It's a fitting capstone on Nixon's breakout year.

Al from Green Bay, WI

Based on rookie performances, if the 2022 draft class was re-drafted, I'm guessing Quay Walker and Christian Watson would be solid first-round picks, and Devonte Wyatt would be no better than a third-rounder. Also, I would expect that Romeo Doubs would be drafted earlier than the fourth round. Yes? No?

That's fair. I saw several re-drafts that had Watson being a top 10-15 pick. Romeo Doubs would definitely be higher than a fourth-round pick, as well. As far as Wyatt, he didn't receive a ton of opportunities this year and defensive linemen sometimes take a year or two to find their niche. I do think he was playing his best ball at the end of the season and that growth matters. The Packers could be leaning heavily on him and T.J. Slaton next season.

Jordan from Virginia Beach, VA

It saddens me to hear Allen Lazard's words at his locker. When asked about "12" playing next year, Lazard basically said it doesn't matter to him because he's not going to be in Green Bay next year. He is one of my favorite players. Is there anything 12, ML, and/or Gute can do to change his mind? Or does he leave like Davante Adams, turning down more money to move on?

I was a part of this scrum and want to clarify something for the people who only read Lazard's words and didn't watch the video. I don't think Lazard was saying he doesn't care or that he's not going to be here as much as he was referring to the uncertainty of an NFL offseason. To be fair, how is Lazard supposed to speculate on Aaron Rodgers' future in Green Bay when he doesn't know his own?

Ted from Carney, MI

With the current roster in mind, what do you think is the biggest need of the team? Doesn't matter if this need is filled via the draft or free agency.

Field-tilters. You saw how different this team was when Watson, Jaire Alexander and Nixon were making plays in their respective phase.

Matt from Burlington, WI

II, I was looking into why things turned out the way it did, but there's nothing wrong with accepting a well-laid plan that went awry. I can't help but think FA losses last year were a bigger factor, though. I think FA losses are harder to overcome when the FA loss is a "leadership" guy. What say you? What UFAs or RFAs are leaders that can't be let go?

It starts with Elgton Jenkins. The Packers don't get that deal done in December if Jenkins wasn't at the top of their list of priorities for the offseason. Keeping that tandem of David Bakhtiari and Jenkins together is essential for the offensive line and offense, as a whole. Brian Gutekunst was asked by Tom Silverstein on Friday if the Packers could center their receiver room on their three rookies. While Gutekunst said Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs and Samori Toure are capable of handling that responsibility, he also stressed the importance of having experienced veterans such as Lazard and Randall Cobb to help lead that room. Also, Nixon probably has catapulted himself up that priority list, as well. He gave the Packers an answer to a decade-long search and provides added depth in the secondary, too.

Joe from Swansea, IL

I was happy to see the GM's comments on David Bakhtiari and Aaron Jones, and are feeling more optimistic they can be back in the fold for 2023. No. 69 is the quintessential plug-in-and-play-then-forget-about-it left tackle. It was hard to see that interrupted by his health issues the last couple of years, but hopefully all that's behind him. As for No. 33, I don't know if there's been a tougher Packer, pound for pound, ever. He adds so much, in the game and the locker room. Keep 'em both!

I've never understood the "Will Aaron Jones be back?" questions. The reason his cap number is high is because of how much restructuring Jones has already done over the past two years to help the team. Jones played his tail off this year. He was one of the league leaders in production above expected yards. The Packers need Aaron Jones, the player and the person, in their locker room.

Dave from Hollywood, MD

It seems like the popular take on Allen Lazard is that he will go elsewhere next season. I would hate to see him leave. Not only did he become a very reliable big-play receiver, but he also always seemed to be out ahead of big plays throwing key blocks. He seems to be very underrated by writers outside of Green Bay. Any other Packers receivers of recent years that had his versatility and selfless play? He would leave big shoes to fill.

I cash (modest) checks. I don't write them. So, it's hard to predict how the Packers will tackle their pending free agents while staying under the salary cap this offseason. However, I still feel strongly that Lazard and the Packers are great together. He'll be successful in a lot of NFL schemes, but Lazard is a perfect fit in this particular offense. If Lazard does move on, his departure would create a void.

Kristian from Aarhus N, Denmark

Dear Mike and Wes, thank you for a great packers.com season. Not so much a question as a comment. Our biggest need is consistent pass rush. In the reign of the Smith Bros., I felt they fed off of each other's energy like Gilmore and Legolas in the battle of Hornburg. Our defense has top-shelf potential. Our offense has a super steady line, two quality backs, very decent TEs and stacked WR talent. Give me one high draft edge. Hope springs eternal! Happy weekend.

I mentioned this more than a month ago, but I think the Packers probably need to add another edge rusher this offseason. Maybe Rashan Gary is back on the early end of the timeline like Jenkins, but it wouldn't hurt to add someone else to that OLB rotation with Preston Smith and Kingsley Enagbare. We'll see what happens with Justin Hollins, too. He had a nice stint with Green Bay (nine tackles, four quarterback hits and 2½ sacks in six games).

Jeff from Cedar Falls, IA

Building a competitive roster every year and keeping veterans is hard to do. But in recent years it seems like the Packers keep restructuring contracts that help get through the current year but have some bad salary cap repercussions for later. The salary cap will keep increasing. But are the Packers going to have to go a few years of not being competitive because of the contract restructurings they keep doing to try to win now?

The Packers have kicked several cans down the road but that doesn't mean there isn't a recycling center close by. Green Bay will have to stay limber but part of that is the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. It's a problem many teams have faced with the cap retracting two years ago. Worst comes to worst the Packers can use the post-June 1 deferment to move a released player's cap hit to the following offseason. So, there's still plenty of ways to navigate these waters and keep climbing.

Ed from Windsor, CO

If life was fair, no one would steal sandwiches and each NFL team would win the Super Bowl once every 32…oops, no math. I hope the Packers get a couple in your time because reading the Inbox about it would be the best.

The only thing I haven't done in this career is cover a Super Bowl. I hope to get that opportunity someday.

George from Goodlettsville, TN

I agree with Mike that I would love to see Buffalo finally win a Super Bowl, and Minnesota not so much. I have a brother and two nephews that live in Minnesota, and if the Vikings won a Super Bowl, my asking how many Super Bowls they won would lose something.

I enjoy the way the Bills have built this team, too – good drafts, solid free-agent signings and obviously identifying the franchise quarterback of the four who were selected in the top 10 in 2018. As far as the Vikings are concerned, we're either going to learn something about them during these playoffs or the suspicions of many will be proven correct. But there is no question Minnesota has earned the right define its destiny with its litany of fourth-quarter comebacks.

Thomas from Cedar Rapids, IA

"Minnesota not so much." My sentiments exactly, Mike. Although I've softened a bit in my old age, I recall my purple cladded classmates' unmerciful ribbing in the '70s. As much as I would enjoy 0-5, I don't even want them to get the chance. The friends I still keep in touch with expressed their excitement for me with the Packers' brief resurgence this year but also made it clear who they were cheering for last Sunday night. Rivalries never die. I would be just fine with 49ers vs. Bills.

From an interest standpoint, I'd probably take the NFC field over Minnesota. I'm not trying to be a hater, but truthfully the Vikings are just the team I'm least looking forward to watching in the playoffs. The other six NFC teams have some interesting storylines, especially the 49ers. The Vikings are the Vikings. I feel like I've seen this concert before.

AJ from Rio Rico, AZ

Mike/Wes, I think a new difference-maker that would help the most is tight end. We could have a great line if all are healthy and seem set at running back. The D-line needs help from a pass rusher. I like linebackers, cornerbacks, and if Jordan Love is the next HOF quarterback, I am good.

Well, that's a pretty big "if," AJ, but I like your enthusiasm. The Packers most likely will have nine picks in this year's draft and a lot of areas to address depending on which veterans are still on the roster by the end of April. Tight end could make sense, but until those dominoes start to fall, your guess is as good as mine as to which positions they allocate those selections.

Zach from Merrill, WI

Mike and Wes, I agree with the positive team identity with "they never quit" but a negative team identity would be under performers? What say you?

Both can be true, Zach. I don't think anyone is satisfied with an 8-9 record and missing the playoffs. I'd still rather take the team that fought to the bitter end than one that folded its tent in Week 13 and called it a year.

James from Willand, UK

Hi Wes, a couple of people have mentioned Mike's mention in Mark's column. I would like to add that MT5 is an excellent format that many organizations could learn from. The open and direct answers are enlightening. Does any other team do this?

Not that I'm aware of. Some GMs and team presidents interact with fans, but rarely do you see owners/CEOs engaging their fanbase as frequently as Mark does.

Dave from Huntsville, AL

Wes, are you bidding on the boots? Those are some fine kicks.

I just might have to. Those are some nice boots and a tremendous collaboration between Braun Strowman and the Packers. If you're a pro wrestling fan, be sure to check out the video.

Bil from Stateline, NV

"If Spoff and I are still here"? What's happening? Are you guys retiring? Being traded? Released? Say it ain't so.

Well, I did clean out my cubicle for the first time in nearly seven years on Thursday, prompting Kristen "Krispy" Shand to ask me if I was leaving.

Perry from Kewaskum, WI

When a player has a contract containing guaranteed money and they retire or are released, how is that money paid out? Does the player receive a lump sum or is it paid out over the course of what the contract was originally scheduled for?

It's based on money that's already been paid out. So, if a player retires, he's walking away from the unpaid portion of his salary. If released, then it's just a question if there's any guaranteed-for-skill money left on the contract.

Jim from Wisconsin Rapids, WI

Do you think Green Bay will ever host the NFL Draft?

Yes.

Dwight from Brooklyn, NY

I enjoyed Spoff's response to Paul from Ledgeview's question about paying attention to beat writers' work and ignoring those of national writers. Couldn't agree more. Most recent example was an otherwise respected national sportswriter stating that the hiring of Richard Bisaccia had been a bust. Clearly, he and I saw two different teams. Keep up the good work.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I'm entitled to completely ignoring said opinion.

Dar from Mansfield, TX

Gentlemen, this week I've taken some PTO (Packers Time Off) to reflect on this season and transition into looking forward. While the team didn't go as far as desired, I hope one of positives of a shortened season is that you two now have more time for rest, family, friends, and rejuvenation. Exceptional work this year (and Spoff gets an extra donut for playing through midseason appendix pain). I think I speak for most Inboxers in saying we appreciate you (and that goofball, Rock) immensely.

PTO season starts soon, which will result in some mix-and-matching on the Inbox front between myself and Spoff in the weeks and months ahead. As always, we appreciate you all for coming along for the ride. My apologies it wasn't as long or prosperous as any of us hoped in 2022.

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