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Inbox: It could provide a boost

The Packers couldn’t simply replace it

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WR Randall Cobb

Mike from Algoma, WI

Spoff did it again!

We know life is really getting back to normal again when all sorts of crazy stuff happens while I'm gone. Vacation felt like old times.

Ingrid from Superior, WI

Mike Mike Mike Mike Mike…guess what day it is?!

That commercial is the adult equivalent of the Life cereal one from my childhood.

Mark from Homewood, AL

Hi, Mike. Like everybody else, I'm excited about the possibilities in the upcoming draft. Particularly adding players at positions of need other than WR. I know it's kind of a fool's errand to project these things without knowing how the picks fall, but which position, other than WR, would you be most surprised if it wasn't included in one of the first- or second-round picks?

I'll still say defensive line, even with the addition of Jarran Reed, which should be made official very soon today.

Kent from Appleton, WI

Did the signing of Campbell feel to you anything like last year with Aaron Jones? I was doubtful they would happen but they take care of so many unknowns. Same with Rasul Douglas and Robert Tonyan but to lesser degrees.

The Campbell re-signing felt like Jones a year ago in the sense the player to me was indisputably the top priority to re-sign amongst pending free agents (franchise tags notwithstanding). All last year in this space I kept writing about how Jones brought an element to the offense all his own at an elite level, and the Packers couldn't simply replace it. That's how I felt about De'Vondre Campbell with the defense this year. When I departed for my break, I did not expect Douglas and Tonyan to be back, but the Adams trade changed Green Bay's financial situation.

Dar from Mansfield, TX

Where does the team currently stand on cap space? Or rather, about how much money is currently available as Gutey and Russ Ball negotiate with (perhaps) Marquez Valdes-Scantling or other free agents?

Depending on which accountant you consult, the Packers have around $20M in cap space (prior to the Reed signing, and before the Douglas and Tonyan contracts are officially on the books) based on their current top 51. They'll probably need about half that to sign their draft class, which would be a little larger allocation than normal with having four picks in the top 60, barring trades.

Erick from Vancouver, Canada

While a rookie WR may take a year to fully develop in a Packer offense, they could make instant impact on special teams. Are first- or second-round WRs typically used on special teams early in their careers? Could this draft be another key to fixing special teams play?

It could provide a boost, no doubt. Who can forget Randall Cobb running a kickoff back for a TD in his first NFL game? That type of investment in a receiver is primarily for the long term, though. You envision that player being a key contributor on offense soon enough, and for an extended time.

Jeffrey from Eveleth, MN

To elaborate on the impact of rookie receivers in the Aaron Rodgers era, perhaps there hasn't been a big rookie impact because there wasn't the urgent need? The Packers have had the luxury of not having to rush these young receivers to the field right away. How about rookie receivers during the Favre era, how well did they do?

I agree about the lack of urgent need generally. As Wes mentioned, when Adams arrived, Nelson and Randall Cobb were running the WR show. When Cobb arrived, this team has Nelson, Jennings, Jones, Driver (and Finley at TE). When MVS arrived, Adams and Cobb were here, along with Graham. We'll just have to see how the dynamics unfold. In the Favre era, Freeman had eight catches for 106 yards and a TD as a rookie in 1995. Brooks had 12-126-1 in '92. Walker had 23-319-1 in '02. Then toward the end the trend shifted when Jennings (45-632-3 in '06) and Jones (47-676-2 in '07) came on the scene with bigger rookie years.

Tom from Burlington, WI

Morning Spof, I think a lot of Packer angst about Davante and the wide receiver void is the unknown. When was the last time the Packers moved on from No. 1 receiver without having the replacement on the roster? It has dovetailed so well for over a decade it's just unfamiliar territory.

You almost have to go back to Sharpe's abrupt retirement following the '94 season. Brooks' numbers that year were 58-648-4 as the No. 2. The following year he put up 102-1,497-13, so we'll see.

Stephen from Menomonee Falls, WI

Are we asking the right question? Shouldn't we be saying who will Rodgers throw those 1,300-1,500 yards to, not who's gonna catch 1,300-1,500 yards?

The first one is whom, but I like the way you think.

Jake from Decatur, GA

I love 17 as much as anyone, but no WR is worth an all-pro MLB, a clutch rotational CB, your QB's favorite TE, AND extra first- and second-round picks. In terms of total value, this all seems to have played out as well as it realistically could – certainly better than anyone should have expected. But, Mike, what do you make of the noise about the Packers matching LV's offer? In my mind, it just means Adams has more than one friend in the NFL he'd like to play with before he retires.

To be clear, the Packers re-signed Campbell before trading Adams. The plan, and preferred outcome, was to have both here. To your question, if the reports are accurate the Packers offered equivalent or similar money, it's because no team wants to see players on a Hall of Fame trajectory leave. True difference-makers really do, ahem, make a difference. They give you an edge every time they step on the field, which impacts every aspect of an opponent's game plan. There's no overselling that. I do think the Packers are maximizing what they can from this development, which is what they should do and how the business works.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Welcome back Mike, hope the break served you well. I might be wrong but it appears the Packers' only WR under contract for 2023 is Amari Rodgers? I'm predicting two in the first two rounds (I'm usually wrong). Considering the time it takes most WRs to make an impact could you see them adding a third or fourth in the middle to late rounds? Is the WR class as deep as they're saying this year?

It is deep, but that seems to be the case regularly now, as the college game keeps churning out playmaking receivers. It's not a difficult position to restock, but it's also not as easy as throwing darts at a board. Projection, fit, intangibles, etc., all apply to finding the right ones, in whatever rounds.

Jacob from West Allis, WI

Now that Davante Adams' time with the Packer has concluded, how does he rank among the best Packers receivers of all time? Please list your top five.

Boy, that's tough. Hutson, Lofton and Sharpe belong in the top five for me, no arguments. Then it's a matter of picking two from Adams, Nelson and Driver. I don't want to leave out any of them.

Darren from Wakefield, MI

Welcome back, Mike. Hope you had a great PTO. The QB shuffle across the league this offseason reminds me of watching the Scrambler at the carnival. Which move intrigues or surprises you most?

I've learned not to be too surprised by anything, but what went down with Watson just floored me – the trade compensation and the contract amidst the off-field situation – I just couldn't get my head around it. When the friend I was with first mentioned it, I thought he was making it all up.

Justin from Los Angeles, CA

When players pass or fail a physical, does each team have their own standards, or is that standardized league-wide? Is it possible for an injury to be okay for one team but not another?

Yes, one team could pass a player on a physical while another one fails him. Opinions regarding injuries frequently differ.

Rod from Chugiak, AK

I'm a free enterpriser, and do recognize supreme value of "The Man," yet my gut churns at QB contracts engulfing such a giant part of the cap. It chokes down what's left for those who typically have a much shorter career in which to "make it" financially. Years back, the players' association imposed a limit on incoming rookie contracts eating into what they felt should fairly go to proven veterans. Do you see the union's economically squeezed-down majority ever rising up demanding, "enough's enough!"?

No, and I doubt the owners would agree to it even if they did. I don't see anyone deciding to artificially establish a market for certain positions. The rules have been geared toward the offense for a long time now, and that combined with the game's complexities have made a top-tier QB indispensable to winning consistently. Limiting how much a team can pay its QB within a salary-cap system would diminish the advantage of (1) having one of the best at the most important position, (2) being able to manage the cap challenges effectively, and (3) finding young, inexpensive talent in the draft.

Gary from Sheboygan, WI

Good morning Insider, I can never keep track of whose turn it is. Why are what seems to be more than the usual number of players around the league signing one-year deals? Are they all in prove-it years, or are teams more cap conscious, or is it something else?

It's for the reasons you mention, plus those factors contribute to some players maybe not finding what they're looking for and wanting another bite at the free-agent apple next year.

Al from Green Bay, WI

I didn't mind the idea of "Z" returning to the Ravens, but I don't think I will like him in purple. I believe the most disruptive game of his career came against the Vikings. I have to believe Smith left an indelible impression on the Minnesota brass in that game. How much do you think a showing like that plays into a GM pursuing a free agent?

Two full seasons later? Even if it weren't a new regime in Minnesota, I don't know how much one specific game would've factored.

Dan from Toledo, OH

Do you think the Vikings and Bears scouts get tired of their continual roster building strategy of signing forming Packers? At least the Lions attempt to be original.

How soon we forget Jamaal Williams, T.J. Lang, …

Andy from Milwaukee, WI

"Reading Rainbow," bro. You don't have the swagger to use the word "bro"...

Wes clearly was ready for a day off.

Matt from Tea, SD

With most of the high-profile QBs going to the AFC, how does it affect our chances of getting primetime games versus being flexed out?

This is still the Green Bay Packers with Aaron Rodgers, dude.

Eric from Green Bay, WI

Something tells me that most people would not "swim molten lava" or "crawl over broken glass" to have the jobs you guys have and it has nothing to do with taking metaphors literally. I think if they could be miracled into your position then yes they would. But if they had to cover high school sports for local newspapers for years something tells me most would opt out. Like any career worth having, journalism is very hard and everyone starts at the bottom.

Very true, and I wouldn't trade my eight-plus years covering preps in this state for anything. That grind prepared me for this grind because I developed the necessities best learned for this line of work amidst the challenges of striving for something bigger – deadline and interview skills, relationships, thick skin, an open mind, the need to read, ability to adapt, handling pressure, … I could go on. My days of covering volleyball matches, cross-country races and wrestling meets were invaluable to my career, and I know Wes would say the same.

Josh from Seattle, WA

Spoff, how was your vacation?

Full of basketball, including a great book I read, and also relaxing until a nightmare of a return travel day, but so it goes. Now it's time to refocus, for a few days at least. I'll do my best. Happy Wednesday.

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