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Inbox: He's going to make every quarterback in that room better

Yeah, so there actually were five…

Packers QB coach Tom Clements and QB Aaron Rodgers
Packers QB coach Tom Clements and QB Aaron Rodgers

Shilo from Murrieta, CA

That wasn't very nice of Spoff to leave II with a pic of Walter Payton running roughshod over the Packers – and with Willie Gault blocking to boot. He's gonna give us children of the '80s nightmares if he ain't careful!

Some Spoffords just want to watch the Inbox burn.

Chuck from Charlottesville , VA

C'mon, Mike! Who's the fourth?

It's a toss-up between Alan Page and Fran Tarkenton.

Eric from Milwaukee, WI

I was very interested to look up the fourth NFC North foe to win MVP besides Walter Payton, Barry Sanders and Adrian Peterson. It turns out there were two more: Fran Tarkenton in 1975 and Alan Page in 1971.

Yeah, so there actually were five…Tricky Spofford. My friend and fellow NFL writer Lindsey Young just wrote a fantastic profile on the 50th anniversary of Page becoming the first of only two defensive players to ever win the AP MVP award. Football is just a small part of Page's story. He has led an incredible life.

Shannon from Ovilla, TX

Wes, I hope you enjoyed your time off and got to spend quality time with your family. Mike is on vacation and the period for using the franchise tag opens this week. Plus, a certain player has said he will make a decision sooner than later about his future. I'm thinking you may be a bit busy this week.

Ha. If we are, we are. To be fair, Spoff had his share of breaking news to deal with last week. We're now within one month until the start of the new league year and deadlines spur action. In the meantime, we're all anxiously waiting for the first domino to set the offseason in motion.

Al from Pueblo, CO

I understand the worry in losing Aaron Rodgers, but hasn't the front office shown they have a better handle on draft prospects than most of us do? I'm conflicted about which direction the Packers take with AR12, but I also have confidence than if they felt there was value in trading up for the next QB1, we should at least give the man the chance to give us a body of work upon which to make an informed decision. Patience please. Let it play out on its own. Thanks for all you guys do, II!

Someday, there will be a different QB1 in Green Bay and I would hope Packers fans will give that individual a chance. At the same time, the Packers have been pretty transparent about their plans. Brian Gutekunst and Co. want to keep this championship window open with Rodgers for as long as possible. If Rodgers stays, I'm confident Green Bay will find a way to make all ends meet.

Doug from Neenah, WI

Wow, did anyone predict Tom Clements coming back as the Packers QB coach? After being out of the league for a year, what will he bring that's new and different? Thanks.

Clements is a brilliant guy. The man is a lawyer, by trade. He's also on a short list of coaches who have seen Rodgers at every interval of his career. More importantly, he's going to make every quarterback in that room better. Having worked with both Mike McCarthy and Kliff Kingsbury, Clements brings with him a lot of different experiences and viewpoints. He's the right guy at the right time.

Dave from Waterford, WI

Do you think Rodgers will be staying with Green Bay or moving on?

I found no inner-office memo in my mailbox with Rodgers' decision when I got back in the building today, so I can't confidently say. But I'll respect whatever he wants to do. Rodgers has earned the right to call it when he feels it's time to walk away. To my eyes, however, Rodgers was as good as he's ever been this past year. In the past, he always liked using a golf analogy to gauge where he was in his NFL career (e.g. "entering the back nine, etc."). Next year would be No. 18. So, yeah, I'd like to see him play out the round.

Russ from Henrico, VA

I am not espousing a scenario, but just wondering about the key decisions coming up. Due to cap realities and a solid, realistic front office, can the Packers have Rodgers/Davante Adams (both or neither seem the betting favorites) AND a strong roster? Try as I might, I have never gotten out of a financial hole by spending more.

Sure, but we're not talking credit card debt here. They absolutely can field a strong roster in 2022 if Rodgers and Adams stay, especially with all the young talent already on the roster.

Wayne from Lakewood, CA

I have heard a rumor that Mike Smith is no longer with the Packers. Is it true, as there have been no reports that I have seen? Please let us know the details. Thanks!

Yeah, it's true. I was disappointed to hear that but obviously wish Mike nothing but the best in the next chapter of his career. Smith was a riot to cover and he did yeoman's work with the Smith Bros. and Rashan Gary. That's not what I'll remember the most about him, though. It was after the Packers lost the NFC title game in January 2020. We got back from Santa Clara in the wee hours of the morning and there was a fair amount of snow on everyone's cars. Most everyone dug themselves and headed for home. I don't blame them. But not Mike Smith. Mike went around the lot with his Snow Joe, pushing snow off like a dozen people's cars. It's an image that'll forever be seared on my brain. I'm going to miss him. The train will keep moving, though, and Jason Rebrovich comes to Green Bay with great credentials.

Zak from Huntington Beach, CA

I think a perhaps overlooked benefit to the Rams winning by going "all-in" is that an inordinate number of teams (I would put the over/under at six) will likely follow that path next year. Thus, we'll have a greater-than-usual sample size to analyze in 4-5 years, when we compare them with the teams that got all their top-60 draft picks in the following years. If posted, would this submission be a record for most hyphens?

Indubitably. You're probably right, but like I said before, the Rams couldn't push "all-in" if they hadn't drafted Aaron Donald and Cooper Kupp. You can't always buy a decent hand. Sometimes you need to be dealt pocket As.

Mike from Austin, TX

Good morning, Wes! Welcome back. Skipping town relative to the HoF announcement for Mr. Butler was almost Spoff-like. However, I think that the entire Inbox community is behind you on this: you are hereby granted ONE (and only one) Inbox chortle for so steadfastly espousing LeRoy's well-deserved induction. You, sir, were right. Chortle away!

I was emotional. I thought a lot about my grandfather. I learned everything I knew about the Lombardi Era from him. Given that background, it meant even more when he talked about Butler with such reverence. It was vindicating to see Butler get the credit he so richly deserves. What I love the most about LeRoy is how he managed to stay positive through it all. I tend to be an eye-for-an-eye person. It's my fatal flaw. I don't think I would have been big enough to let the water roll down my back like Butler did. He exemplifies what it means to be a Hall of Famer. And I easily could see LeRoy becoming the tremendous ambassador of that elite fraternity in Canton until the day he leaves this earth.

Craig from London, United Kingdom

Have you heard any updates on Bobby Tonyan's knee injury and do you think it will affect our chances of re-signing him? I think retaining him will make No. 12 happy, they seem to have a great connection that was missed after he went down

I have nothing new to report on Tonyan's rehab, but I will be curious to see what his market looks like this winter. A lot of prognostication might need to be involved with Tonyan now around four months removed from reconstructive knee injury. Still, Tonyan is only 27 and one year removed from a Pro Bowl-caliber season at a position where there's a dearth of playmakers in the league.

John from Sturgeon Bay, WI

Who might be the top three targets for a wide receiver to join the Packers in '22?

Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Allen Lazard. It begins there. If the Packers want to bring in another receiver, they have nine draft picks to choose from.

Dan from Edgerton, WI

With all the new head coaches in the division, which team will be the biggest challenger for the Packers crown?

The last I checked the Vikings still employ Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook. Those two are p-r-o-b-l-e-m-s and their continued presence should hasten Minnesota's rebuild.

Will from Rochester, MN

Not to beat a dead horse, but Larry Fitzgerald hasn't officially retired. Can you imagine if he, Adrian Peterson, and Aaron Donald all decided to call it a career? The HOF class would be decided five years prior. And let's throw in the possibility of J.J. Watt retiring...who, in your humble opinion, would be out? Roethlisberger? Fitzgerald? Thanks for all you guys do. I really enjoy it.

It doesn't work like that. The five-year window begins from the moment you last played. That's why Adam Vinatieri is eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2025 despite only "officially" retiring last year. Since he didn't play in 2020, Fitzgerald is eligible for the Class of 2026. Tom Brady, Roethlisberger and the rest of the guys you speculated on would first be eligible in 2027.

Dan from Morehead City, NC

Another thought on the effects of the new TV contract on teams' salary caps. Many teams will have boatloads of money to spend, driving up salaries a lot. Maybe it's better to sign the players now and let the cap increase balance your books in the future. Could this be the teams plan?

It could be. I am not intelligent enough to pontificate on the economic impact of the pandemic on the NFL in any meaningful way, but based on everything I've read, I would expect salary cap to get back on track soon enough. Maybe teams can kick the can long enough to balance the books.

John from Livermore, CA

So, crystal ball time: What is your prediction for the Packers' special teams in the upcoming year? I'm going for top third of the league ranking.

As much as I respect Rick Gosselin's system, fans shouldn't focus on rankings. They should care more about whether there's a pit in their stomach when the unit is on the field. I'm looking for fewer pits in 2022.

Ernie from Fairfax, VA

What is your favorite piece of Packers' memorabilia you own, and what is high on your list of memorabilia you would like to have one day?

I only collect Packers memorabilia that intersects with my time covering the team, so my favorite piece is probably the Panini 'Flawless Finishes' card I have commemorating Aaron Rodgers' game-winning Hail Mary in Detroit in 2015. I'm sure the card is plenty valuable and Packers fans would salivate over an authentic on-card autograph, but it's more about capturing the moment for me. As I've written before, that night will go down as one of the wildest of my professional career. I've never had to scrap a 1,000-word game story like that before, or since. I'll likely own that card until I die and then my son can do whatever he wants with it. The only other piece of memorabilia on my wish list is Jordan Love's 2020 Immaculate rookie card. Panini swiped my lead quote from the one-on-one I did with Jordan the night the Packers drafted him and stamped it on the back of the card. Unfortunately, Panini neglected to source me but I'd still love to add that card to my collection at some point.

Sandy from Green Bay, WI

It seems like it has been a revolving door of coaching changes across the league. Can firings, hirings, and retirings of coaches occur year-round or is there a window of time during which these changes are allowed to occur?

Change can happen at any time. Shoot, didn't Bobby Petrino leave a resignation letter on his door when he left the Falcons after 13 games in 2007?

Dan from Waupun, WI

Did you like the end of the Badger/Michigan game? You would have thought they were coached by Dan Campbell.

In Campbell's defense, his mantra is playing hard to the whistle. This was after the darn game was over. As a Juwan Howard fan, that was difficult to watch. I'm all for conference rivalries but that escalated to an uncomfortable place.

Lori from Heredia, Costa Rica

Welcome back, Weston. You were missed. How is a foot of snow preferable to a snow squall? (She asked in an empathetic voice)

A foot of snow doesn't knock my fence over, Lori.

Dar from Mansfield, TX

Wes, reading Mike last week reminded me how good you two are at correctly using expressions like "spiffballing" and "champing at the bit." That said, I need an objective opinion. If Mike is the one doing it, shouldn't the expression be "Spoffballing?" I must spend too much time in Inbox because my phone's autocorrect wants to spell it that way.

It's good to be back.