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Inbox: It expanded the possibilities

GM Brian Gutekunst
GM Brian Gutekunst

Curt from Oronoco, MN

"May you live in interesting times…" Or is it, "May it be your day to write II when Jordy is released..."?

Serenity now.

Ryan from Jackson, TN

The best QB, LT, and WR in football. Give it another year or two I’ll be adding CB to that list. Two disruptive, powerful men playing DL. I think people were too down on this Packers roster last year. It was more than just the roster, it was a whole lot of things that just added up to a Packers team that was not playing to the standard we are accustomed to. We needed a lot of changes, but I think this year’s FA moves were a dang good start.

That’s exactly what they need to be. A start. As I continue to say, the opportunity in this draft is immense for the Packers.

Tim from Greensboro, NC

Mike, I completely agree these were projection signings. Given all four were given elite money, without an elite track record, is it imperative at least three become impact players? Or, would two suffice?

It would mean the difference of one year of cap damage or two. The answer is also dependent on how well the Packers draft the next couple of years.

Logan from Lino Lakes, MN

Insiders, a little insight on Billy Turner. Local kid. He graduated two years after me from Mounds View High School in MN. He grew up real close with my sister-in-law. Great kid. Great family. His dad, former Packer, coached football at the high school. True Packer personality. Fans will love him.

That was my first impression yesterday.

Jake from Athens, GA

From the few sources I trust, the consensus first impression of the Packers’ recent signings seems to be that they weren’t “bargains” but they were “savvy.” If you had to describe the 2019 FA class (so far) in two or three words, what would they be?

There are no bargains in the early days of free agency. Other than projection, as mentioned earlier, my words would be bold and necessary.

Bill from Green Bay, WI

How do you think our defense will do this season?

I still want to see what comes from the draft, but with the three free-agent additions and a hopefully healthy Kevin King, among other elements potentially in his favor, Mike Pettine is in better shape for Year 2.

Michael from Brandon, MS

Say GB snags Hockenson at 12. All the experts say he’s pro-ready and can do it all. First game against the Bears, he’s staying home trying to fend off Mack coming around the edge. How do you think he does?

I dislike hypotheticals, but on this one I just have to say that leaving a rookie tight end one-on-one on the outside vs. Mack would qualify as coaching malpractice, unless you’re running a draw up the middle or a screen the other way.

Greg from Downers Grove, IL

I would be excited to have a top-tier TE as many are saying it’s a need. However the Packers have not used our TE very well in the past due to the inability to protect AR. My question is tied to our new coach ML and his utilization of TEs in his offensive scheme. What can we expect from the TE position with ML?

I won’t pretend to know, but hearing Gutekunst make it pretty clear at the combine he was bringing back Graham for another year said something. Now Lewis is coming back, too. There’s no way those decisions were made without having conversations with LaFleur.

Bryce from Westcliffe, CO

Spoff, saw on a news feed that a minor league game or games will be called by a computer. Is this the future of baseball? Your thoughts.

Only a matter of time. I’m not saying tomorrow, but the technology is only going to improve. Balls and strikes lend themselves to automation.

Mark from Appleton, WI

Just finished Ben Reiter's book “Astroball” in which it described the steps, the analytics actually, that brought that team to prominence. Considering the Packers’ free-agent shopping spree, do analytics come into play with these acquisitions or is it more gut instinct and film?

I’m sure there are some analytics involved, but football statistics aren’t readily analyzed the same way baseball statistics are because all the annual in-game measurements, so to speak, are one-tenth the sample size. In football, the film rules the roost. “Astroball” is outstanding, by the way.

Dave from Germantown, TN

Do teams ever take players completely off their draft board due to legal problems, injury concerns or an interview that reveals the player will not fit with the team's culture?

All the time.

Greg from Perkasie, PA

Mike, did you foresee the Steelers imploding and the Odell trade when you predicted the Browns in the playoffs this year?

No. The prediction was based more on the draft capital Dorsey was inheriting. Give a talent evaluator of his caliber that kind of stockpile and he’s going to make it work.

Brannon from Greenville, SC

Hey guys, Russ Ball seems to be the hero here and the one that makes the Packers really competitive without cap issues. Does he have an understudy? I'm probably more terrified of his retiring or leaving the Packers than anyone else.

Ball is a master cap manager, no doubt, which is why Murphy did not want him to leave despite passing him over for the GM job to hire Gutekunst. It’s good for the Packers he stayed. I can’t speak to any succession plan for him, but he doesn’t turn 60 until later this year, so to my knowledge he’ll still be around for a while.

David from Florence, AZ

No mention of Russ Ball in all this FA talk. The man must be a financial genius, have a very extensive computer program or both. I think he deserves a lot of the credit also. There has to be a lot of variables involved when deciding on how much money you have to pay someone. Have you ever interviewed or thought about interviewing him? I think it would be very interesting.

Ball doesn’t make himself available to the media, but he was kind enough to sit down with me last year for a feature piece in the Packers Yearbook. His career background is rather fascinating.

Benjamin from Bear, DE

Lot of questions focused on the edge-rushing free agents the Packers signed and the upcoming draft. Understanding there's only so many snaps these additions will play, does it make sense to use a high draft pick on yet another edge rusher that would take snaps away from the free agent? If a high pick is used to draft another rusher, didn't they waste some of the free agents’ value?

It might enhance it if there’s enough depth on the edge to have a regularly refreshed rotation. Fresh legs in the fourth quarter win games, and in January they win playoff games.

Mariah from Milwaukee, WI

Really love what the Packers have done in free agency thus far. I believe these signings really open the door for what we can do in the draft as we are no longer pigeon-holed into having to draft a certain position to fill gaping holes. Think all this FA action will finally quiet the fans who were complaining about the Gute/Murphy structure?

Only if wins follow. That’s all that matters.

David from Cable, WI

A change of philosophy? I don’t think so. I think this was a one-time deal based on the need to add talent to a roster that was weakened by decisions that didn’t work out. Hopefully this group will be a bridge to allow us to go back to depending primarily on the draft. If we have to do this every year, it won’t be long till as Vic used to say the train will be coming down the track.

If you’re doing this every year, you’re spinning your wheels, meaning you won’t be able to get out of the train’s way.

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

Is this the year of the dead money? Several teams took dead charges that were inconceivable years ago. With the hockey-stick growth in the salary cap it seems taking a dead-money risk, which was anathema in Ted’s day, is less of a factor. Simply stated strikeouts have turned out to be not so bad if one of the three ABs is a homer.

There’s some simple math involved. A $10 million dead-money hit was 8.1 percent of the cap just five years ago, but only 5.6 percent of the cap now. Fewer whiffs are still going to put you in better shape and provide more flexibility, but one whiff won’t cripple the cap if there’s a reasonable escape.

Dean from Sandusky, OH

Just read about the Saints restructuring Brees' contract. They are clearly in win-now mode, but I would hate to be there when the cap train comes rolling into the station. You can definitely hear the whistle blowing in the Big Easy.

Eventually, the Saints will be paying Brees a chunk of their cap to not be on their team. In essence, at some point they’ll have a young, developing QB with a de facto cap number equivalent to that of an established vet, negating the financial advantage that comes with having a young QB on his first contract.

Jessi from Sterling, KS

I know Amos said in his interview, "I'm happy to be a Packer," but let's be real, this has got to be tough! Leaving somewhere you loved, tight-knit teammates, and joining your team’s biggest rival. I feel like to honor their current team, players can't say how they really feel. They can say it's a business all they want, but between the whirlwind of free agency and former ties wouldn't you at the least be nostalgic inside?

I love my job, and my co-workers and the Inbox are both tight-knit communities, but if another NFC North team offered me a signing bonus five times my salary from last year, before I even answered one of the rival fans’ questions, I could get over the nostalgia pretty quickly.

Harry from Kennewick, WA

With our FA signings so far this spring I find myself excited on two fronts. First of course I hope these men will pay instant dividends on the field and in the locker room. However in my opinion they can have a long-lasting effect that no one is talking about, the effect on future “blue chip” FA being willing to consider coming to Green Bay now that we are not just a draft-and-develop team first and foremost. Do you think that our D-and-D reputation hurt us in the past with top-tier FA?

No. If you offer the money, they will come.

Rick from Cedar Rapids, IA

It seems to me the awesome free-agent news brings into play the LSU linebacker, the Iowa tight end, or even one of either best D-tackles or edge rushers for No. 12. The first two can be game-changers at their positions for the Packers. I am an advocate for trading down for more second- and third-round picks, but not too far. Any thoughts? Thanks.

This week feels to me like it expanded Gutekunst’s possibilities in the draft exponentially.

Jim from McLean, VA

With the recent free-agent signings in mind, do you think Gutey is more likely to trade up and swing for the fences, or with a relatively deep draft trade down for value?

Anything and everything is on the table.

David from Coeur d’Alene, ID

I always find the discussion concerning BAP vs. need in the draft interesting; but doesn’t a good GM want both of those at the same time? Isn’t all the trading up or down simply a mechanism to make the two meet at one player?

Ideally, yes, but all kinds of draft plans – in advance and in the heat of the moment – can go awry. It takes a very calm, measured approach in the big chair to maximize on value and balance roster needs when the clock is ticking.

Ryan from Littleton, CO

I think “Yeah I’ll mentor him, all the way to the bench” might be one of my favorite sports quotes of all time.

It’s worth remembering. That’s all I’m saying.

Mike from Umatilla, FL

What are the chances we re-sign Wilkerson? Is he visiting any teams currently or been signed already? I think a full year with him, Daniels, and Clark healthy would be a fantastic front three for any defense, but especially with Pettine a second year.

There’s been nothing out there on Wilkerson, which I suspect might be due to him not being healthy yet following that terrible leg injury and subsequent surgery. Wilkerson might get figured out down the road.

Sandy from Green Bay, WI

Who will you expect more from during the upcoming season: the returning Packer rookies during their second season with the team, or the recently acquired free-agent veterans during their first season with the Packers?

Interesting question. I think the answer has to be the four free agents, because they were all signed to be starters. From the draft class, I see Alexander as a starter, plus at this point (pre-draft) maybe Burks and one of the receivers. But throw in JK Scott and the equation starts to look a little more balanced. I nominate this issue to be revisited.

Carroll from Madison, WI

Given our newfound ability to go BAP and the dynamism of draft day it would seem that mock drafts for the Pack have become self-mocking. Still fun to read – but I, for one, look forward to your player prospects – far more informative.

Prospect Primers start on Monday. We’ll post one player per day the rest of this month, and then the plan is to ramp up to two per day in April until the draft. Happy Friday, everyone.

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