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Inbox: He might be just getting started

It’s never not about the money

TE Robert Tonyan
TE Robert Tonyan

Rollie from Baraboo, WI

I have a favor to ask the II. Could you please give up the lunch questions for Lent, and then fire them into the fiery sun along with 88 for eternity?

But who needs the fiery sun when we've got laser goalposts?

Bruce from Appleton, WI

How hard will the Packers try to get J.J. Watt?

I don't know.

Ray from Phoenix, AZ

I just read that Cleveland has strong interest in Watt and Watt has interest in them because they have cap space not cap liabilities. So is it about the money all the time?

It's never not about the money.

Dale from Selinsgrove, PA

"Let's be honest": fans thinking J.J. Watt will take a hometown discount to sign with the Packers are dreaming. How often in the NFL have you seen that happen? Players have short careers and few will sacrifice a much lower contract than their market will bear in hopes of winning a Super Bowl. They might take a slightly lower one to sign with a better team, but Green Bay is in no position to offer a substantive contract without sacrificing other players.

And therein lies the rub.

Roger from McGrath, AK

If you pay it, it counts against the cap. However, I read that only the top 51 of 53 are counted against the cap and that suggests that the lowest two, the practice squad (including those called up for a game), injury settlements, and the like are not included. If the practice squads remain expanded this could make getting below the cap a bit more of a challenge. Is my chemo brain working right? It seems I'm missing something and I can't put my finger on it.

The top 51 rule is for cap compliance during the offseason only, when teams have 90-man rosters. Once the regular season begins, everything counts.

Chuck from Gold Canyon, AZ

Good morning, Mike. Although many fans are focused on what will happen with Aaron Jones, Corey Linsley, Jamaal Williams, Kevin King and other UFAs, there is one RFA that I am equally concerned with the potential to lose. Big Bob Tonyan I have heard might be given a second-round tender and know we would have right to match any offer, but his 2020 season might have a team with available cap space making an offer we can't afford to match. Am I right to worry?

I wouldn't get too worked up. Robert Tonyan had a dynamite 2020 season, his 11 TDs really stood out, and he might be just getting started. But 52 catches for 586 yards are not numbers likely to prompt another team to break the bank. I'm going to trust the Packers won't let Tonyan get away.

Jeff from Gladstone, MI

Mike, "Trust me, watching a video of reading Inbox submissions would do nothing but cure insomnia"? That would insinuate all of the questions are boring. Surely you must find humor in at least some of the submissions? LOL

Oh sure, but the comment was more about how I'm not a, literally, LOL kind of guy when I'm working. It's a residual effect of press box decorum, I suppose.

Andy from Kalamazoo, MI

Dear Insiders, I know it's an apples-to-oranges comparison, but given the brutal choices Gutekunst is facing this offseason, which job do you think is more difficult – playing QB in the NFL or playing GM? Would you rather have the best GM in the league or the best QB?

The QB. Always the QB.

Linwood from Travelers Rest, SC

I like the MVP of MVPs challenge, Mike, and that they're in separate eras. Made my first vote. My question is how do we email Cliff Christl a question? I've searched the web but can't find a link. I have a 1960s question for him. Thanks for keeping us Packer-informed.

The MVP polling was just an idea I came up with last week while I was away, to pass some time in the slow portion of the offseason in a hopefully fun way. I think the vote on the Lombardi-era MVPs is a tough call, and the early returns showed it's close. As for reaching Cliff, click here to go to our website’s history page, and you'll see a link to email him.

Sawyer from Simpsonville, SC

So the Packers didn't even make a conference championship game from 1970 to 1995? Man, could you imagine the people today if they had been fans then?

Plenty of folks who read our site did live through those dark ages. It wasn't just no conference title games for 25 years. It was two playoff appearances, period, over that length of time (1968-92).

Steve from Green Bay, WI

First, thanks to Mike and Wes for providing this daily forum. It is a nice respite from news on the pandemic and politics. My question is triggered by recent QB news regarding Russell Wilson wanting more say in player acquisition and coaching. Assuming this report is accurate, do you think this will be a trend that will continue, and if so, is this good for the NFL? Are NFL superstars acting more like NBA superstars in today's world? What are your thoughts?

I don't like to get into comparing sports. But I'll just say it's generally not a good idea to air in public personal grievances about the team in the most team-oriented of sports, even if there's no argument over said grievance being totally justified and accurate.

Daniel from Catonsville, MD

Mike, if the new Resch Center is now completed, does Green Bay have a viable shot at hosting the NFL Draft soon? I personally would love to that happen!

As Mark Murphy announced at last summer's virtual shareholders meeting, the Packers are one of three finalists to host the 2024 draft. Fingers crossed.

Bill from Raleigh, NC

Hi Mike, Kirk Cousins had the 18th-best total QBR in 2020, and will be a $31M cap hit in 2021. Do you think the Vikings think he is good enough, or are they going to look elsewhere in the draft and/or FA? I was going to ask a similar question about the 15th rated Stafford and the Lions, but ...

I would expect the Vikings to start planning for the future at QB in the draft. But without getting into all the details, the contract extension Cousins signed last year doesn't give the Vikings a lot of options for this year or next, unless they can find a trade partner willing to take on his deal.

Joe from Rapid City, SD

II, good morning. I was wondering how many times the Packers have used the franchise tag and do you see the team using it this year because of the lowering of the salary cap?

The Packers have used the franchise tag five times – in 1998 (Dorsey Levens), 1999 (Antonio Freeman), 2004 (Chad Clifton), 2008 (Corey Williams) and 2010 (Ryan Pickett). Using the tag creates a large cap number for the player in the current year, unless and until a long-term deal can be worked out. I think that would make the Packers less inclined to use it this year if they don't have to, but I'd never rule it out.

Jeffrey from Wauwatosa, WI

I hate to say it but I think both Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams are gone. The consensus around the league seems to be don't pay a RB. Pittsburgh didn't pay Bell and the Chargers didn't pay Gordon. Hindsight would seem to say that both those teams made the right decision. What do you think?

I think every case is different, and in Jones' case, I've said before I believe he's an exceptional fit for LaFleur's offense and his abilities in this scheme would be very difficult to replace.

Julian from Gastonia, NC

As a marquee team my guess is the Packers will open the season against another marquee team. I know the old saying be careful what you wish for. That said, it would be different to have more of an off-the-radar opener. Maybe home against Washington or on the road against the Lions before they settle in with all their changes, or on the road against the Bengals. What would you prefer to open the new season?

I don't really give it much thought until it's announced. Your question, though, sent me on a little research mission during which I discovered that since 2003, the Packers have opened against a division rival or a playoff team from the prior season every year except one – 2016, when the league sent the frozen tundra team into the Florida heat for an opener at Jacksonville. So it seems safe to say the odds of a ho-hum opener are pretty slim.

David from Cable, WI

This desire for a WR to me is just code for we want to see Aaron Rodgers throw it 40 times a game. This coincides with the belief that he won the MVP because he found the Fountain of Youth. I think Matt LaFleur put together an offense that maximized his strength, which is between the ears, and reduced dependence on his physical ability, which is still good but not what it was 10 years ago. At this point in our passing offense less is more. Keep building a team not an aerial circus.

I wholeheartedly agree, though in the same breath I would like to see the Packers create more competition in the offseason at the receiver position behind Davante Adams and continue building for the future there.

Jason from Des Plaines, IL

People really seem to want us to draft ILB early, again. I really liked what I saw from Krys Barnes in terms of explosiveness and tackling, but what happened to Kamal Martin? I was shocked to see Barnes earn the role he did given his situation, but I have to say I wanted more Kamal, too! Both seem promising, but what happened to Kamal?

Martin is a hundred-mile-an-hour player whose aggressiveness can backfire at times. As he learns the NFL game (progress that was curtailed somewhat by his injury and COVID absences) his play style could really pay dividends. But he needs time to develop.

Doug from Neenah, WI

Mike, what were the Packers' final numbers on going for two-point conversions last season? How did that compare with the league average? And what where the numbers for defending against them?

Including postseason, the Packers were 2-for-5 on two-point tries (not counting a botched PAT snap that turned into a two-point attempt) and opponents were 6-for-6. I couldn't readily find the overall league numbers for 2020, but the Packers know they weren't good enough on either side of the ball.

Thomas from Cedar Rapids, IA

Whenever I see photos of LeRoy Butler I can't help but notice the shoulder pads. Are the smaller pads now a result of better science and materials, or player choice? Is the speed and flexibility advantage of smaller pads a risk/reward trade-off with the safety factor?

I believe yes on the latter.

Doug from Lafayette, OH

Spoff, aside from Aaron Rodgers, which current Packer (mostly assumed to make the 2021 roster) do you feel needs to have the most impactful season-long performance?

Of the players I'm fully confident will be here, I'd have to pick Za'Darius Smith. Pass rush is the most valuable defensive commodity in the NFL, and he's the best the Packers have.

Allen from Birmingham, AL

Mike, has anyone ever tossed the Stanley Cup off a yacht? Asking for a Florida acquaintance...

The Lombardi Trophy weighs seven pounds. The Stanley Cup weighs 34½. I hope that answers your question.

Gretchen from Dousman, WI

Good morning and welcome home, Mike. Which of the baseball books did you enjoy? Any recommendations?

I borrowed John Feinstein's "Living on the Black" from Wes and only wish I had read it sooner. I also dove into "Bottom of the 33rd," Dan Barry's fantastic work on the longest professional baseball game ever played. Outstanding book.

Dave from Huntsville, AL

You assume Michael from Manitowoc, WI, was asking about baseball on Tuesday. What if the real question was something like, what is your favorite combination of yeast, barley, and hops?

Five o'clock can't get here soon enough. But in between, I'll be logging on to do a live chat at 11 a.m. CT today, so maybe I'll see some of you then. Happy Wednesday.