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Inbox: It's a beautiful partnership

The Packers like having multiple options in their backfield

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WR Davante Adams and QB Aaron Rodgers

Steve from Whitby, Ontario, Canada

Wes, did you know J.J. Watt is a free agent? Welcome back and hope you enjoyed your holiday!!

On second thought, is it too late to extend my PTO for another week, Duke?

Benjamin from Bear, DE

I like AJ Dillon and what he brings to the Packers' run game, but with such a limited sample to go on, aren't the Packers taking a huge risk in not re-signing Aaron Jones or Jamaal Williams? I think it would make sense in bringing at least one experienced running back, back as an insurance policy in the event Dillon is as good as the limited sample demonstrated!

It's hard enough thinking about the Packers' backfield without Aaron Jones or Jamaal Williams that the prospect of neither being back is almost inconceivable to me. But that's the NFL. AJ Dillon has a lot of ability and is built for a bell-cow role but Matt LaFleur and the Packers like having multiple options in their backfield.

Daniel from Waukesha, WI

Will the Packers continue to have a three-headed monster at running back next season?

Yeah. We just gotta wait to see which faces they'll be. If Williams and Jones leave in free agency, the Packers will need to find a back or two to help replace them. That's just too many snaps and too much production.

Bill from Bloomfield Hills, MI

Of the 'three needs' expressed in II of CB, DL and IL which do you think are better served through finding 'one guy' in the earlier rounds versus multiple picks in later rounds? The shotgun approach worked on RBs a few years back, and we have had a lot of more early-round fails on CB than hits (granted Jaire Alexander is a home run). Please ignore FA solutions in your answer.

The longer I cover this league, the more convinced I am the answer to your question is cornerback. Five years ago, I would've said defensive line but cornerbacks are the currency to win in today's NFL. That's not to say every first-rounder will be an All-Pro and you can't find a Pro Bowler on Day 3, but there just aren't many guys with Jaire Alexander's credentials available in the later rounds. You gotta go get that guy and understand the risk involved.

Bill from Carbondale, IL

I know data is the reason some teams may undervalue certain positions but I don't see the value in holding hard and fast to that position if a player looks like keeper. If said player can improve your team, why let that sway the decision?

I'd agree with that. Sometimes you need to look past the position and understand the value of the player to your team (See Ron Wolf and Craig Hentrich). You're never going to bat 1.000 on free-agency decisions but there's immense value in retaining bona-fide playmakers with knowledge of your system.

Lyle from Milwaukee, WI

Jake asked a question about the QB making the receiver better. It's the receiver's job to get open and catch the ball. It's the QB's job to put the ball where he can catch it. Both Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams do their job wells and make each other look good. Also, did you see several catches where Davante caught balls that nobody thought he would? He makes several great catches.

A great quarterback can make a good receiver great, and vice versa. But when both are at the peak of their positions, that's when true magic happens. It should come as no surprise Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams both had career years in 2020. It's a beautiful partnership.

Justin from Los Angeles, CA

I've always thought All-Pro QBs don't create great WRs, but they definitely reveal them. Jerry Rice caught balls from Joe Montana and Steve Young, and no one holds it against him. Why should Davante Adams be treated any differently?

As a society, we like to create convenient excuses regarding the reasons for an individuals' success. Adams' star was forged on the field and that makes his production undeniable.

Take a look at the best celebration shots from the Packers' 2020 season.

Nora from Rosemount, MN

Brandon Lloyd might be the GOAT of WRs when he leads the NFL in yards in 2010 catching passes from Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow. He probably would have had 5,000 receiving yards if Rodgers was his QB.

Brandon Lloyd had one of the strangest careers I can recall for an NFL receiver. His career statistics were all over the map with no real rhyme or reason.

John from Livermore, CA

The release of linebacker Christian Kirksey was mostly a cap shedding hit. Kirksey has been injured a fair amount but is still only 28 years old. What do you think his loss means to the linebacker group?

It's a tough deal with Kirksey, who seemed to finally find his place in the defense over the last six weeks of the season. I don't think his departure changes much, as Kamal Martin also played that "Will" position last year. Krys Barnes and Martin are the future of the inside linebacker position for Green Bay. Kirksey's departure just makes it more likely the Packers add another inside linebacker through the draft to boost the competition in that room.

Brian from Odenton, MD

Good morning, I can't wait to see Kamal Martin play at 100 MPH this coming season, translating to a 40-yard time of just under 0.82 seconds, not including start-up speed. This should get people's attention!

Explosiveness is not an issue for Martin. He plays with his hair on fire. The next step is harnessing that ability, playing with discipline and tackling through his target.

Ryan from Ripon, WI

With the salary cap numbers starting to be set, do players and agents take that into account when negotiations start to happen?

Yes, but the real indicator is going to be what those initial reported contracts look like on March 15. It's one thing to know the day of the dance but who's stepping out the floor first?

Johnny from Madison, WI

As I've gotten older, I've found myself more concerned with front office decisions and player values, as opposed to just focusing on the players and the games. Is that a product of aging, the multitude of freely available information, or both?

No. To some, the business side of the game is more interesting than the weekly Xs and Os. I don't blame you or anybody for being captivated by the other six-month season.

Rodney from Covington, VA

I feel like free agency will be a very long this year with some players signing lucrative deals, others not quite the deal they wanted, some veteran minimum deals stretching into training camp and some possibly into regular season. What do you think?

This is the camp I've pitched my tent in. I think a few stars will sign right away but it may take a bit for the rest of the market to form. It's going to be great theater.

Zak from Estero, FL

Let's say J.J. Watt wants to play so badly for his home state team – a dream that is priceless. Knowing the Packers need other players to fulfill his Super Bowl dream, what is the league minimum for a player of his experience that Watt could accept?

Fine, I'll indulge you. I believe $1.1 million is the minimum base salary for a player with at least seven accrued seasons. And if the signing bonus is fewer than $137,000, that player counts only $850,000 against the cap.

Rob from Louisville, CO

Throw out the 2018 season, and in the last 5 years, J.J. Watt has 10½ sacks. Hasn't anyone else noticed this?

Everyone wants to keep making the comparisons to White. While Watt is an exceptional talent, there are a lot more questions about him right now than there was with White in 1993. It's a fact Watt was double-teamed a lot last year, but the numbers aren't what worry me as much as the injuries. White barely had missed any NFL games when the Packers signed him on April 6, 1993. Watt has battled through some nasty stuff over the past five years.

Jeff from Ogden, UT

This continuing talk of what the Packers will do in free agency is confusing to me. This team is still over the cap, without signing any of the current free agents. It also doesn't add in the cap money needed to sign this year's draft. It seems to me, if this team is going to add impact players this year, it will have to be through the draft. What am I missing?

The restructuring of David Bakhtiari's deal and the release of Kirksey and Rick Wagner moved the Packers closer to where they need to be, but there's still work to be done. Once Green Bay is under the cap, then we can start talk about building for 2021 in a meaningful way.

Kevin from Park City, UT

If the Packers were to extend and renegotiate Davante Adams to a new deal, can they take the portion of the signing bonus remaining on the current deal and roll it forward to the new deal or does that have to be expensed this year against the cap as it is money already paid out? How much can they restructure?

Some fans are looking to cut everybody, but extending Adams seems like one of the more prudent things the Packers can do this offseason. Any signing bonus Adams receives with an extension can be prorated out over five years. I don't know the particulars but that seems like one way to possibly create cap room. Again, there is no direct road the Packers must travel to get under the cap. There are dozens upon dozens of variables.

Marin from West Lawn, PA

Just curious concerning the timing of the Packers releasing Rick Wagner and Christian Kirksey. Were these decisions made to allow time for the Packers to negotiate contracts with these players for a reduced salary or perhaps as a courtesy to give these players time to look around and talk terms with other teams?

The Packers almost always make these moves in mid-February. If the player isn't in the plans for the upcoming season, it doesn't do anyone any good to hold onto him for another month. Wagner and Kirksey are now free to find gainful employment if it is their desire to play in 2021.

Dennis from Appleton, WI

Once the season has ended, how often does the organization contact the players still under contract to monitor any remaining health and recovery concerns?

If you're referring to players who finished the season with a significant injury, the training staff and team doctors stay in regular communication if that individual is rehabbing outside of Green Bay. If it's just typical nicks and bruises from a season, then they leave them to their offseason.

Orv from Clarksville, VA

Good morning Wes. Since draft day is near, do potential draftees have tells that a scout looks for in the research of a player? Jumping sports, I am thinking of the movie, "Trouble with the Curve' or the sound of the ball as its hits the catcher's mitt. Can the scouts tell that a player is a "natural" or is it more draft and develop?

I think so. Some traits are obvious (e.g. Aaron Donald's explosiveness, but there also are times a scout will see something he likes in a player that others might miss.

Geoffrey from Rosemount, MN

I dislike the 17-game season for the scheduling reasons. 16 was perfect. As far as records go, I really don't think that matters. Don Hutson's 99 in 116 is more impressive to me than Rice's 197 in 303. I'd argue that OJ's 2,000-yard season is better than every other 2,000-yard season because his average yards per game says so. Rice's 22 TDs in 12 games is way more impressive than Randy Moss' 23 in 16. Records were scheduled to be broken, in most cases.

I agree. We walked through the looking glass 40 years ago when the NFL moved from a 14-game regular season to 16. Records were made to be broken.

Dana from Eau Claire, WI

Who's your guess on starting QB for the Bears next season? Is Sam Darnold maybe the only trade option left?

If Ryan Pace wasn't already in a must-win situation, I think the Bears' best course of action would be to sign Mitchell Trubisky for one more year and draft a QB in the first round. But since time is not on Pace's side, I don't know if there is a right answer – but I am confident it's not giving up more draft capital for Darnold.

Bill from White Lake, WI

What happens if a team does not stay under the salary cap?

The punishment is severe. A team can be fined millions, lose draft picks and even have contracts voided.

Taylor from Currie, NC

Forgive my ignorance, but how does the pay scale work for coaches, scouts and general management work? Are they capped as well?

There is no cap for coaches, scouts, personnel, etc. And Jon Gruden is eternally grateful.

Mike from Cascade, ID

Hi Wes, welcome back! No question here, but an observation. I'm always amazed at the number of Packers fans I run across when I'm out and about wearing my gear. I've also noticed how international the Inbox is. While checking out one of the Boise, Idaho newspapers online this morning, I saw one of the lead stories was that Jerry Kramer had received his vaccination. They included several photos, and Jerry was smiling and sporting one of his Super Bowl rings. Packers everywhere!

Great to hear. Jerry Kramer is a once-in-a-lifetime human being. We must protect him at all costs. It's awesome to see him leading by example, not that it comes as a surprise.

Steven from Las Vegas, NV

Sunday afternoon, I was lounging around missing football so I decided to look up what happened to the fourth-round pick the Packers traded for Jordan Love. Turns out it was traded again and ended up with the Rams who drafted a tight end, who wears No. 88. I am just reporting the facts here. Appreciate all you guys do. Go Pack Go.

Oh, it's good to be back.

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