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Inbox: It'll fall how it'll fall

The Packers’ uniforms look like no one else’s, and they’ve stood the test of time

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G Elgton Jenkins

Cameron from Wayland, MI

In my best Chris Farley voice: "Do you remember when Za'Darius Smith sacked Kirk Cousins and tackled everybody in the backfield in that Vikings game? That was awesome."

"Remember when I wrote about that after the game, and the next day, too? You should read that. It's pretty cool." Thanks for the laugh.

Al from Pasadena, CA

"San Francisco's was very different than anyone else in how the offense was built and distributed the ball." Mike, shouldn't it be "else's"? Also, do you remember how in the NCAA 1983 final, Houston, with Clyde the Glide, et al., was killing N.C. State with their showtime game, and then the Houston coach handed it to State by putting his team on a slow-down, half-court game? I still remember saying to myself, "What is he doing?" To me it was a classic case of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Correct, you got me. If I recall, Houston got drawn into the slow-paced game because of the coach's first mistake – leaving Drexler in with three fouls in the first half, and sure enough he picked up his fourth on a charge.

Jason from Janesville, WI

I was thinking about the whole Mike and Spoff and Wes and Hod deal, and was wondering if you guys regret answering that. If you had an almost useless time machine, that only allowed you to go back in time and decide not to answer one question in the II, what question and answer would you take back?

Oh, that's easy. I don't remember the specific Q/A, but I know it was around 2016-17 when Ty Montgomery became a running back, and the insanity with a specific jersey number began. Serenity now.

Jennifer from Middleton, WI

Spoff, why do you think GMs are pushing to move the draft? Is it because of the tactical approach on the day, wanting a packed room with all their staff? Or is it because the current restrictions have limited the ability to do advance work?

Could be a combination of those, but it doesn't matter now. The commissioner has made it clear the draft will take place as scheduled, and there's to be no more discussion about it.

David from Hilliard, OH

Good Morning, II. I wanted to give a shout out to Evan Siegle for his great photo of Aaron Jones. It is proof that the Packers, indeed, have the best uniforms in the NFL. With five or six teams making changes to their uniforms this season, it is easy to see why the classics never change!

The Packers' uniforms look like no one else's, and they've stood the test of time. That's enough for me.

Mark from Bettendorf, IA

The old guy suggests maybe the Packers aren't spending big in free agency because of the ever-growing chance there won't be a season. Although the flurry of activity recently would refute that, do you think there are owners really hedging that way?

No. The first week of free agency was no different than last year, except the Packers weren't as involved, as was widely expected after the four big signings a year ago.

Scott from Greensburg, IN

Approximately how many "extra" draft points can Gute add to the "620," the No. 30 pick is said to be valued on the chart, if a team is wanting to "come back into the first" for the extra year on the rookie contract? Secondly, do you believe that extra year merits even more points if a late first-round QB were to be involved?

I think a QB being involved would prompt a team to give up more and potentially "lose" the trade points-wise, but I'm not sure any additional value beyond that scenario should be perceived.

Mike from Somerset, WI

Mike, everyone loves to talk about the Smith Brothers and wide receiver fever, but finding another interior defensive lineman that can be disruptive and hold the point will be key in the upcoming season. Kenny Clark was double-teamed the second most in the NFL last season behind only Aaron Donald. Our secondary was No. 3 in interceptions. If the quarterback can't step up because the inside can hold its ground and the Smith brothers will be closing in, I think the secondary will feast.

Another Kenny Clark would change the run defense more than anything.

Paul from Ellensburg, WA

Hey fellas, do you ever struggle not to fixate on a particular prospect for the Pack? Every year I tell myself, "There's no point in getting excited about Player X, he could go anywhere," then I usually break that rule for someone. This year it's Jalen Reagor. Doesn't his reputation for character and work ethic scream Packer?

I like Reagor, too. What's not to like? But for every guy I've found whose first impression at the combine seems to fit the Packers, there are always others at the same position I don't know about. Last year, I could picture Dalton Risner in a Packers hat and jersey. Then Green Bay drafted Elgton Jenkins instead, and those two were the guards on the PFWA All-Rookie Team. So let's just see. It'll fall how it'll fall.

Jim from Des Peres, MO

For years I watched the best in the business as an all-purpose running back – Marshall Faulk. He often played as a slot receiver. Couldn't A. Jones be deployed as our regular slot man, especially if the Pack is worried about his longevity? P.S. Did you ever see Faulk do blitz pick-up? Stunning.

Let's pump the brakes a bit. One guy is a Hall of Famer and the other just had his first 1,000-yard season. Jones lined up a lot of places last year, and I see LaFleur continuing to explore various possibilities. But Jones needs to be in the backfield the vast majority of the time to help this offense the most.

George from North Mankato, MN

Thanks to both Mike and Wes for continuing the II during this pandemic. Just wondering who you think will be the biggest challenge to the Packers repeating as NFC North champs this year?

I believe it'll be the Vikings. They're undergoing a lot of change, but the cores of Cousins-Cook-Thielen on offense and Kendricks-Barr-Hunter-Smith on defense, plus two first-round picks, should keep them in the hunt.

Take a look at photos of Packers QB Aaron Rodgers from the 2019 season.

Joshua from Appleton, WI

Thank you guys for working from home to entertain us. I really enjoyed the video chat. Wes had said it's been several years since we had a high-dollar WR free agent from another team on the team. Who was the last such player we signed?

It depends on your definition of high-dollar, but if you don't count James Jones coming back in '15, then maybe it's Koren Robinson? Terry Glenn (via trade)? Andre Rison and Don Beebe?

Jim from McLean, VA

Hi Mike! Your answer and the question by Steve from Bloomington got me wondering: How much time do the personnel departments spend studying other teams' needs and tendencies in the draft? Seems like it could get incredibly complex with so many possible permutations.

They study it and try to get a handle on it as best they can, but they know anything can happen. They'll run their own mock drafts to see what different scenarios might present themselves. To me the possibilities seem endless when picking at 30, as opposed to 12 last year, so they can only be "prepared" to a certain extent.

Rich from De Pere, WI

Insiders, we often talk about getting or anticipating "significant improvement" from young players on the roster. How many years do teams typically give a player before they start to realize, or at least think, that perhaps the desired improvement isn't going to come?

Every situation is different. It depends on what progress they've seen, or if they feel any progress has flattened out, or how much injuries have been a factor. Most often it simply comes down to whether there's a better player available to take the roster spot.

Paul from Rockford, IL

With the re-signing of Swervin' Ervin, does this mean he will be worked into more offensive plays like we started to see towards the end of the season?

I wouldn't be surprised. LaFleur was very interested in the skill set Tyler Ervin brings to the offense, even when the rest of the running backs were fully healthy.

John from Yakima, WA

As GM, for the late-round picks, in evaluating players do you include how the player contributes to special teams?

Quite frequently, yes, but even if they didn't play much on special teams in college you're looking for body types and attributes that can help in that area.

Mike from New Orleans, LA

I appreciated your breakdown of guarantees in contracts. It got me thinking, if a team for some reason has an absurd amount of cap space one season, could they sign a player to a multi-year contract, but simply pay the whole thing as a signing bonus? That way the player gets the money and the team doesn't need to worry about cap hits in the future from him.

Well, the signing bonus would be prorated cap-wise, so what you're suggesting would be to pay a player a whopper of a first-year salary so it all counts on the cap right away. But that's not an advisable strategy. After Year 1, you don't have a very motivated player.

Raymond from Edmonton, Alberta

Hey Mike (or Spoff), reading that the offseason program has a possibility of being canceled got me wondering about the play books. I was always under the impression that that is when they were given out to the team. I heard someone ask if they will be given out electronically and the answer was no, if I remember correctly. My question is, if the OTAs are cancelled, when will the players get the playbook and does this present a problem with picking it up for the start of the season?

The playbooks have been electronic for a while now, and I would imagine the team will distribute them when it can. Everything in the offseason is voluntary for players, though, except the one minicamp, so they can't be compelled to do anything. Players with offseason workout bonuses in their contracts are going to be more concerned about those, frankly, than the playbooks. That's not a criticism, just reality.

Bob from New Britain, CT

Hi Mike, the other day you commented: "The slightest miscue leading to a slow start can easily cost a player one or two tenths on his 40 time." It caused me to think ... these are football players, not track stars. Why do they always begin their 40-yard sprints in the track "ready position"? Wouldn't it make more sense, to better evaluate their "football speed," for each player to line up as they normally would at the line of scrimmage? Wouldn't that be more natural for them?

I think it's well accepted that 40 times aren't football speed. But having everybody run them, in the same place and from the same starting position, provides comparisons to the rest of that draft class and to past draft picks as well. Therein lies the value, such as it is.

Nate from Pueblo, CO

Can you think of even one free agent this year that would've been worth sacrificing David Bakhtiari, Clark, Kevin King, or Jones next year? I can't.

I'm with you, and there's still no guarantee the Packers can keep all four of those guys you listed. There's also Corey Linsley, plus the following year Davante Adams, and then Jaire Alexander entering the same fifth-year option Clark is heading into now.

Brandon from Imperial, MO

Thank you for giving "Sports Night" its due! It was one of my very favorites and it's horrible that it didn't get more seasons. It's still the only TV show I purchased on DVD when it came out as a boxed set. I believe it didn't launch but maybe nudged a few of the cast's careers.

I'm borrowing that box set my next time through Missouri, Brandon. Peter Krause, Josh Charles, Felicity Huffman, Joshua Malina, even William H. Macy in Season 2. OK, I've gone on enough about it. Self-isolation makes me nostalgic. Thanks for indulging.

Howard from Sarasota, FL

During your video chat you discussed the prospects of the Packers playing in London. You specifically stated that the Packers would be unwilling to give up a home game. But what if the NFL offered Green Bay a future draft in lieu of playing a home game overseas?

For an iconic city that can never host a Super Bowl, I don't think Green Bay should have to give up a home game to host the draft. But if that's what it would take, I'd consider it a worthwhile trade.

Jeff from Des Moines, IA

I'm not above begging the NFL to hold the draft as scheduled. Even if it's one guy on the phone writing names on a chalkboard, I promise I will watch.

Have you seen the 30 for 30 on the 1983 draft? That's practically what the coverage was, and it was one of the best first rounds of all time – six Hall of Famers.

Roger from Rice Lake, WI

Why did either of you two decide to be a sports writer/reporter? As a senior in high school I got out of school a couple of hours each day to work at the local (weekly) newspaper. Small town with a small newspaper. I attended all local high school sports games, mostly football and BB, then would write/report the results in the next edition. Was thinking of a career in journalism but circumstances eliminated any chance of college. Joined the USAF instead and after 44 years came back to WI.

Wow. That's one of the most touching and intriguing submissions to the Inbox I've ever read. I'm sorry you weren't able to pursue the field, but please know your service to our country outweighs and outlasts anything I've done in my career. I got into it because sports and writing were my two greatest passions all through school, so I figured if I could combine the two I'd never be bored. So far I've been right.

Jeff from Athens, WI

Dead money always seems to come into play when teams are considering releasing a player. On more than one occasion this has come back to bite teams in the back side by keeping an under-performing player on the roster simply to get something out of what they spent. Wouldn't it be nice to simply charge it to Mr. Underhill's American Express card?

Now I'm hungry for a steak sandwich and a … steak sandwich. Make the best of the weekend, everyone.

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