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Inbox: It might be the hardest position to play

A lot of unknown there

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CB Jaire Alexander

Mark from Salisbury, MD

Sometimes the Inbox scares me.

Sometimes?

Visti from Farum, Denmark

Just to clarify. In his answer to Nikolai did Mike suggest that the Buccaneers pay their guys too? That saying from Mr. Jones is the second-best advice for a fan to live by.

Amen.

Harry from Chandler, AZ

Hi. Did I miss something? Where have Mike's mid-week chats gone?

My apologies. For several reasons I won't get into, I haven't had a chance to do one since the season ended. I will get back to them in the offseason at some random times, so stay tuned.

Thomas from Cedar Rapids, IA

Compensatory picks between rounds are often called "sandwich picks." Something Wes knows all too well, come lunchtime in the Lambeau media cafeteria room.

It's funny, mealtime aside, I've never heard the term "sandwich picks" in the NFL Draft, only the MLB Draft.

Dick from Four Oaks, NC

The other day, a reader asked why the Packers and Bills were slotted in the first round of the draft the way they were, given that they had the same records. The answer had to do with the difference in the won-lost records of their respective opponents. My question is this: Do their positions flip-flop in subsequent rounds? My feeble memory seems to recall this happening in similar situations in the past.

I believe that will be the case, yes, but I'm waiting for the NFL to release the full draft order – which will be after comp picks are finalized – to confirm.

Matt from Fort Worth, TX

Do you believe the decision to re-sign Jamaal Williams depends on whether or not they can re-sign Aaron Jones?

Perhaps, but it also might depend on what kind of role or opportunity Williams is looking for.

Ryan from Winnipeg, Manitoba

No question today but a compliment to Cliff for that amazing article on Vince Lombardi. To read about those days and how he changed the game and culture not just for our beloved Packers but the league made me especially proud to be a Packer fan (cheesehead) and eternally grateful to share the same birthday as him.

Whenever I want to guarantee I'll learn something about the Packers, I read Cliff.

Chris from Gallatin, TN

With the speculation around what a more "aggressive" D coordinator will bring to the table, I hope it's in the vein of playing more press coverage and less soft zones where the corners line up seven yards off the line than having that "nastiness." I always go back to Jim Schwartz's early 2010s Lions...talented defense, but more often than not got out of control and incurred dumb penalties in key moments. I'll take disciplined tough over nasty tough any day.

Lack of discipline, however you want to define it, can get you beat in any phase, even more so now than a decade ago.

Jeff from Eveleth, MN

Jars on the shelf. Jon Runyan seemed like he belongs and can contribute. How about the other two linemen the Packers took in last year's draft?

TBD. Simon Stepaniak was recovering from his college ACL tear most of the year, returned to practice toward the end of the season, and then went on IR. Jake Hanson was on the practice squad, ended up on practice-squad IR, and was re-signed to a futures deal. A lot of unknown there.

Sal from Mullica Hill, NJ

Not a question but a comment about compensatory picks. I believe Bryan Bulaga falls under a special 10-year vet category. Bulaga played in 10 NFL seasons and, therefore, his "maximum value" is a fifth-round pick, and if signed in free agency, can't net a compensatory pick higher than the fifth round.

Correct.

Mike from Franksville, WI

I know we're all sick of debating about the Packers "going for it," but all the talk made me think of 2002, one time I felt the Packers really did "go for it." They traded for a No. 1 receiver in Terry Glenn, signed a dominant pass rusher in Joe Johnson, an All-Pro middle linebacker in Hardy Nickerson, a dangerous return ace in Darrien Gordon, and drafted a deep-threat wide receiver, Javon Walker, in the first round. Fans would love that kind of offseason right now, right? Look how that turned out.

One playoff win over three years, and then a 4-12 season in 2005.

Jim from Mauston, WI

The Wasted-Pick crowd is the first cousin of the All-In crowd. Both suffer from the delusion the team is just one player away from hoisting the Lombardi and it is only the tunnel vision of management keeping the team from finding that player.

That's pretty good.

Andrew from Pleasantville, NJ

I get after the NFCCG that Kevin King has been one of the biggest scapegoats, but I honestly don't think he's a bad player when healthy. With how dominant Jaire Alexander is on the other side, I fear that whoever we put at the other spot will always have their "issues" due to the sheer volume they see. Thoughts?

I tend to agree. King played the worst game of his career two weeks ago, but that was not representative of the bulk of his play for the Packers. I don't know what his future holds, and while it's easy to see another No. 2 corner playing better than King's last game, if the Packers are in the market for a replacement it's not a given they'll find a full-time upgrade. With Alexander on the other side, it might be the hardest position to play in the Packers' defense.

David from Janesville, WI

Insiders, I understand the angst over the Love pick, even if I don't get fired up about it. I am often amazed at how small the margins are between a win and a loss at this level. Would someone like Queen have helped stop one of the third-down conversions? Maybe a high pick corner would have been able to perform better than a veteran with a hurting back? Obviously there are no do-overs, but I at least understand why folks think an immediate contributor could've helped beat the Bucs.

I get where you're coming from. I honestly do. But that's why I focused my laundry list of failures last week on this team's upper-tier players as well as the coaches. Guys everyone had counted on all year and done the most for the team's success had it in their hands and came up short. Everything else is hypothetical. As for corner, had the Packers known back in April that two recent draft picks at the position would be deemed no help by season's end and therefore inactive for the NFC title game (even with the No. 2 nursing a bad back), perhaps decisions are different, but no one had that crystal ball.

Michael from Winchester, VA

I know the 2021 Packers won't be playing any 2020 teams. But the schedule next year features nine games against teams who made the playoffs this year, including three in the AFC North and two in the NFC West, plus New Orleans, Washington, and Chicago twice. San Fran will likely be tough with their injured guys back, too, leaving really no down games. Has there been another schedule in recent years that looked so stiff from this early (and admittedly foggy) vantage point?

When you win your division, and a division rival gets a wild card, your schedule always has similar playoff numbers. What enhances this one is the NFC North is matched next year with the AFC North, which happened to have three teams qualify for the postseason. If the 17th game against Kansas City becomes a reality, there's yet another huge challenge.

John from Las Vegas, NV

What am I missing? Why can't the owners and the players' union just agree to not lower the cap for next season? Is there something in the collective agreement that prevents that? Seems like the players would be all over keeping jobs.

The players would love for the cap to stay the same. The owners are the ones who lost all the revenue during the pandemic season. They're going to make the players share in the economic pain, it's just a matter of how long that pain is spread out in terms of cap reductions. The owners would prefer to balance the books, so to speak, as quickly as possible.

Craig from Elkton, MD

Does the salary cap act like any other union agreement? That is to say, the owners can always give more than required, but not less. So if all the owners got together and said they are OK holding the salary cap and just sucking up the losses, then it's all good? Do you think the owners would be willing to take the loss in order to protect their future potential? With all the talk about long-term investments, it seems like a no-brainer to me.

From my understanding of labor negotiations, the owners look at their clubs as a business first and a sports team second. That's just reality. That said, with the potential addition of a 17th game and new TV contracts on the horizon, there could be ways to structure the cap adjustments so 2021 doesn't become as dire a situation as it might appear.

Matt from Pontiac, MI

As much as this sucks, I can't help feeling it isn't necessarily the end. The 1987 49ers, 1996 Broncos, 2004 Steelers and 2005 Colts all had at least the best regular-season record in their conference, and all suffered disappointing home playoff losses. In their following seasons, all four teams had worse regular-season records than in their previous season, but all four made the playoffs and all four ended up winning the Super Bowl. If they could do it, why can't we?

How ironic and fun would it be if, in a few years, we're comparing this Packers era to the late 1990s Broncos?

David from Waterford, OH

The play of Tampa Bay's defense reminds me of the New England defense when they beat "The Greatest Show on Turf" when Brady won his first Super Bowl. The defensive backs were physical, grabby, and got away with a lot of illegal play. I remember New England doing that to the Colts' receivers during a playoff game and I believe the rules were changed because of their style of play. If Tampa can get away with that grabby play in SB 55, they just might beat Kansas City.

It'll be very interesting to see how the big game is called after the way the Bucs defended the Saints and Packers.

Gardner from Circle Pines, MN

First Jason Pierre-Paul catches the break of the playoffs in not having to go against David Bakhtiari in the NFCCG. Now in the Super Bowl, he doesn't have to match up with Eric Fisher, a former No. 1 draft pick. Does it look like the stars are aligning for Tampa Bay or can the Chiefs keep Mahomes clean? If not the Super Bowl MVP could be JPP.

If anyone can get even more creative and improvisational than normal and make it work, it's Mahomes.

Chad from Rhinelander, WI

What do the Chiefs have to do to win a second straight Super Bowl?

Don't turn the ball over. The Bucs don't beat the Saints if the Saints don't turn it over, and they don't beat the Packers if the Packers don't turn it over. I truly believe that. Even though Green Bay eventually won the turnover battle 3-2, the 0-2 start with 14 points against swung the game.

Brian from Rochester, NY

It's going to continue to hurt to see Mahomes and Brady battle it out this Super Bowl weekend. It does feel like a lost opportunity. The closure is missing to highlight how great they have been these past two years. I truly hope in the near future, a Super Bowl win will be that much sweeter. This will be a tough test to rebound from an emotionally difficult ending to this season; one that will require great decision-making and perseverance from the entire organization.

Fortunately or unfortunately, it's a position from which the organization has recovered before.

Richard from Greenwich, NY

I'm with Wes on the Super Bowl. Will not be watching. Not out of pique, just indifference. Besides, wanting one individual to lose, as opposed to rooting for a winner, is not a good reason to watch.

It proved enjoyable, as well as cathartic, for me six years ago.

Kerry from Plymouth, MN

What is THE biggest need for the Packers entering the coming season?

I'll answer this the same way I did last year at this time – one more win in January. Happy Friday.

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