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Inbox: It creates an edge that never dulls

There’s no telling how it shakes out

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QB Aaron Rodgers

Robert from Salem, WI

Do you see an area that the team may focus on in the upcoming draft?

More than one, actually.

Rodney from Colleyville, TX

Can the Packers draft defense needed at the current low draft pick in round 1?

As far as the availability of big guys goes, it would appear late in the first round there could be more possibilities on the offensive line than the defensive line. I'm not as concerned about options at other positions. But nobody knows how it's gonna fall.

Vinny from Arlington, VA

Hi Mike, last offseason, a major topic involved top pending free agents with Kenny Clark, David Bakhtiari, Corey Linsley, Aaron Jones, and Kevin King set to hit free agency this offseason. Discussions centered on which players to prioritize; how many could conceivably be brought back; and how this could all be done with a projected reduction in the cap for the first time due to a drop in revenues due to the pandemic. Now a year later, did you think then they'd be able to bring back four of the five?

I thought three was the max, but bringing back King on a one-year deal with much of the cap charge pushed into the future isn't the same commitment made to the other three.

Jim from Fairview Heights, IL

I guess I'm in the minority concerning the Packers and the signing of free agents. I was looking at the list of players that are still out there and available. There's still a lot of quality players out there and IMHO, the longer they're out there the farther down their price tag goes! This seems to favor the patient GM rather than the jump-in-at-all-cost guy. I'll take that patient guy any day!

Every team sets values on what they believe certain players are worth. Then it's a matter of staying disciplined.

Scott from Las Vegas, NV

I often wonder how much intelligence plays into how good a QB is. Granted, they need to be athletic, but I compare it to racquetball when you first learn, you're running all over the court and after you learn the angles you can place the ball and let your opponent run all over the place. Don't you think that the intelligence factor plays a big role in a QB?

When a guy with the physical tools necessary to play quarterback at an elite level is also the smartest player on the field, it creates an edge that never dulls.

Bob from Cortez, CO

Has Aaron Rodgers had the opportunity to walk up to a player and tell them that he played against their dad?

He didn't have to. Antoine Winfield Jr. was well aware last year.

Take a look at photos of Packers TE Marcedes Lewis through his years in Green Bay.

Scott from Grovetown, GA

Greetings Mike. You said it's better to stick with your known versus unknown. If I may play devil's advocate and say sometimes you need to move on from that known player. Please don't construe this as a strike against KK, but there are situations where a player that's known can't cut it and it's better to give the unknown a chance. Like GB did a few years ago.

True enough, but again, it's about the size of the commitment and assignment of values. When options are limited, one venture into the unknown can consume the entire budget. Value discipline can bridge the gap until better options for improvement are available.

Jesse from Andover, MN

In response to your comment about us not preparing for the Niners, we got extremely lucky in that their entire team got hurt so we can't really surmise whether or not we would have been better than them. On that topic would your response be the same in that we don't need to do anything to improve our team to beat TB? Seeing as how they beat us 2/2 times last year. I'll wait for your company response.

Ha, well, I'm glad you find my "company response" so contemptible you read it anyway. But derision aside, you're missing the point, which is that no offseason can be geared toward beating a single opponent because you never know what's going to happen to that club, which was proven last year with the 49ers' injuries. You make it sound like my approach is to not improve the team at all. Of course you push to improve, but none of the Packers' moves this offseason should be geared specifically toward beating the Buccaneers. That would be a fool's errand, as it would have been last year relative to the 49ers.

Mike from Hastings, MN

Mike, I think you're rushing back too fast from your two weeks off. Shouldn't you take it easy for a while?

Nicely done, among many similar submissions, plus several "The Big Lebowski" references I honestly did not intend. I think we've reached the point in the offseason where the Inbox is officially out of control. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Doug from Neenah, WI

Good morning, Mike. The Seattle Football Team (SFT) traded away first- and third-round 2021 draft picks to acquire safety Jamal Adams from the Jets. Plus a first in 2022. As a result of this and other trades, SFT only has three picks left in this year's draft...second, fourth and seventh rounds. Is this what "going all-in" looks like?

As I said yesterday, I'm not reopening that discussion. But having only three picks, and just one in the top half of the draft (total draft capital of 384 points, by the way, the equivalent of one mid second-round pick), is not an ideal spot for a team that just got bounced in the wild-card round and hasn't reached an NFC title game since having to show its QB the money.

James from Asheville, NC

Tight end seems be among the deepest positions for the Packers. We know what Big Bob can do stretching the field, Marcedes Lewis brings a veteran presence and great blocking skills, and even in his short sample I saw enough of Dominique Dafney to think he's a "real football player." Because of injuries we've yet to see what the full potential of Josiah Deguara or Jace Sternberger might be. Regarding Josiah and Jace, what specific skill sets do they offer that make management so high on them?

Sternberger has the kind of size, speed, and catch radius that makes him a matchup problem in the open field, and he showed in his limited playing time as a rookie the knocks on his blocking skills were exaggerated. Deguara is the type who can line up anywhere – tight, wide, slot, backfield – and do whatever's asked, giving the offense a way to keep defenses guessing as to what he's up to, and have him execute different assignments from the same formation. Health is paramount for both.

Spencer from Fulda, MN

Has Allen Lazard or Robert Tonyan signed their tenders yet? Are we at risk of losing both or are they possibly looking at longer deals for those guys?

There's no risk of losing Lazard, whose tender is exclusive rights. Tonyan has not signed his RFA tender yet, but there's been no news on him getting offers from elsewhere.

Daniel from Waukesha, WI

I would consider the following six CBs in the Favre-Rodgers era to be somewhere between very good and elite – Charles Woodson, Doug Evans, Sam Shields, Tramon Williams, Craig Newsome (loved Newsome!) and Al Harris. Jaire Alexander has had a great start to his Packers career. Will he eventually be in the same class as the others mentioned?

Yes, if he's not already.

Take a look at photos of Green Bay Packers DL Tyler Lancaster through the years.

Bob from Cortez, CO

With all the talk of how the Packers have to improve, how many plays had to go differently for a perfect season and a Super Bowl appearance? A dozen, half dozen?

That's a dangerous road that's futile to go down. Or maybe it's a futile road that's dangerous to go down. Either way, stay away.

Rob from Edinburgh, Scotland

Yet another quick question regarding the 17th game. If the conferences alternate who hosts, then the AFC West will host the NFC North again when it cycles around in four years' time. Is the NFC going to host the 17th game back-to-back in 2024 and 2025 to compensate for this?

Great question. You'd think an adjustment would have to be made at some point.

Chuck from Gold Canyon, AZ

Welcome back, Mike. With 10 picks in the draft, there is a lot of opportunities for Gutey to move up (or down) and even look at acquiring additional draft capital in future years. In looking at past Packers drafts where we have had several compensatory picks like this year, both Gutey and TT tend to triple up in area of need with DB, WR and OL all having been addressed in this manner. With that in mind, what position group do you feel might be targeted for more swings at this year?

My best guess would be cornerback, but there's no telling how it shakes out.

Adam from Madison, WI

Thanks for triggering the 1992 draft memories. That was the first draft I followed closely and was crushed when I heard the Packers traded a first for Favre. Then crushed again when they didn't take Troy Vincent and then a final time when I saw they could have had Tommy Maddox with the pick they traded for Favre. I was 1-for-3 I guess.

No one said this draft business was easy, right?

Matt from Chicago, IL

Last year, the offense being in the second year of a system sounded like a crucial ingredient to the team's success. Similarly I believe that contributed to the defense's success and improvement in 2019-2020. Wouldn't it be fair to have lower expectations for the 2021 Packers given the defensive schematic changes?

I don't think that's how Matt LaFleur sees it. There will naturally be some growing pains, but my impression is he doesn't believe the scheme change is dramatic enough to require a major transition and therefore any lower expectations. That's not how LaFleur operates.

Take a look at photos of Green Bay Packers TE Jace Sternberger from the 2020 season.

Gary from Madison, WI

When will the complete schedule, practices, preseason games, etc., be available?

The full NFL schedule will be released sometime in May. The Packers usually announce their training camp schedule in June.

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

Does it seem unusual to have all of our WRs entering the last year of their contracts? Maybe the players themselves are the ones not interested in extensions if they feel the next year will have a larger bank of dollars for teams to draw from?

I don't think that's it. Cap charges can always be manipulated. Each case is different. With Davante Adams, I don't think the Packers will let him get anywhere close to free agency, but an absolute top-of-the-market deal or extension – which is what he's in line for – can take a long time to figure out. With Marquez Valdes-Scantling, I'm sure he'd like to move past the drops and put up bigger numbers to see what he can get. Lazard has nothing to negotiate until he accrues his third season.

Douglas from Bloomington, IL

With the Packers needing to make cap room for 10 draft picks, do you think they might trade some of their picks to move up and thus have fewer players they have to make cap room for? Or are the rookie contracts so small that it's inconsequential?

They only need room for the draft-pick contracts that fall within the top 51 during the offseason, which won't be all of them. Come roster cut-down time, they'll only need room for the contracts of the guys who make the team.

Dale from Prescott, WI

Mike, you able to make the Brewers' home opener Thursday? I'll be checking the score while working, with a Brewer shirt on, so I've got that going for me, which is nice.

I had to let Wes get a few more vacation days in this week, so I plan on writing Friday morning's column with one eye on the game Thursday afternoon.

Scott from Sauk City, WI

Speaking of Opening Day, how do you feel about the 2021 Brewers? I love the Kolten Wong signing, but our SP depth makes me nervous. That group is one injury away from big trouble, IMO. Most "experts" have us top three in the Central, which seems about right to me.

The Nolan Arenado trade made the Cardinals the prohibitive favorite in the division. The Brewers' prospects depend, as you said, on the starting pitching and a few regulars finding their hitting stroke again after a rough 2020.

Jeff from Eveleth, MN

Someone asked you if a person's legacy can be determined by a single event? The closest example I could think of was Scott Norwood. "Wide Right." I still can't imagine how that must have felt.

On the flip side, there's Mike Eruzione. Happy Wednesday.

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