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Inbox: It's a potentially dynamic group

One does not preclude the other

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TE Josiah Deguara

Brandon from Pleasant Prairie, WI

A reader from yesterday's Inbox brought up Aaron Rodgers on "Jeopardy!" That got me wondering, Rodgers is the host, and you and Wes are the contestants on a football-related "Jeopardy!" show. Who wins?

If there's a "Madden" category, then Wes.

Avida from Vienna, VA

Hi Mike, with there being one less preseason game and a 17th regular-season game, is the season expected to begin a week earlier this year? Also, on your explanation of the deferral preference, I agree with you, and wanted to follow up: Based on your reasoning, GB should always defer if they win the coin toss. Would there ever be a situation (e.g. opponent, weather conditions, site, etc.) that cause you not to? Or is it automatic in your view that you win the coin toss, you defer? Thanks.

I don't believe the NFL has any plans to move up the start of the season. For years the league has kicked off the week after Labor Day because of likely lower ratings on a holiday weekend. As for the coin-toss decision, if the weather conditions were extreme enough I'd strongly prefer to have the wind at my back in the fourth quarter, then I might take the ball first upon winning the toss. That would mean for the second half, the opponent would have to choose the ball or direction, so I'd either get the wind in the fourth quarter or the ball first to start the second half, too.

Chun from El Monte, CA

Will the Packers consider signing someone like Cordarrelle Patterson? I don't think changing ST coordinators every few years is actually working, but adding a dominant kickoff returner might be the approach to fix this. Considering he can play some RB as well as taking the jet sweep I think it would be a great fit for our team. He can fit the role of Tyler Ervin and Tavon Austin, although I don't recall Patterson returning punts.

He doesn't return punts, but a dynamic returner like Patterson is certainly on Gutekunst's radar, based on his comments last week. It'll come down to price, though. The draft might be the more feasible hunting ground.

Keith from Danville

Does the revenue received in the Atrium (Pro Shop, restaurants, Packers Hall of Fame, etc.) go solely to the Packers, or is it subject to revenue sharing?

That's a complicated answer. To my knowledge, the revenue from the Atrium businesses is not subject to sharing in the same way, for example, ticket sales are. But the NFL also has a provision that requires the highest-revenue teams to contribute to an overall pool that is shared amongst the lowest-revenue clubs. There are times the Packers have contributed to that pool, so in that fashion, the revenue has been subject to sharing.

Chet from Sioux Falls, SD

It may be blind faith, but I think a well-rested and hungry Devin Funchess returning next year on a very cheap deal could give the Packers great flexibility in the draft. If the confidence is high that he will be able to come back and perform, the focus could shift to a slot option with returner and motion abilities in the draft. I think this could be a day 2/3 pick, opening up early picks for CB, OT, etc. What is your confidence level on Funchess returning to previous form? Thanks!

Funchess is a proven pro, but I would not assume anything regarding his ability to perform after taking a year away from the game. He's going to have to earn a spot on the roster, and that's not a given.

Daniel from Waukesha, WI

During the Favre-Rodgers era, who was the best at each offensive line position?

Wow, interesting question. I dug into this so as (hopefully) not to overlook anyone. The only easy call is left tackle, where David Bakhtiari gets the nod over Chad Clifton and Ken Ruettgers based on his multiple All-Pro honors. For as solid as the Packers have been at right tackle, it's rather remarkable neither Earl Dotson, Mark Tauscher nor Bryan Bulaga ever made a Pro Bowl, but my edge goes to Bulaga. At guard, I'll take Josh Sitton at left and Marco Rivera at right, though Adam Timmerman, Mike Wahle and T.J. Lang were no slouches. The hardest pick is center, where Frank Winters, Mike Flanagan, Scott Wells and Corey Linsley all have a Pro Bowl or All-Pro season on their ledgers. Since there may be some recency bias with my Bulaga pick, I'll lean toward Winters here, though not heavily.

Take a look at photos of Green Bay Packers T David Bakhtiari from his Pro Bowl season.

Michael from Naples, FL

The father of a recently retired Pro Bowl linebacker told me that his son will watch a game and will tell him what play an offense will run pre-snap and is accurate over 90% of the time. Intrigued, he asked his son how he does it. His son said it is all about down, distance and formation. When the player played against the Packers, I could see him signaling to his teammates the play. Is this common or was this player unique?

First, I don't dismiss the ability of Pro Bowl-level defenders having a good idea what's coming, but 90% accuracy sounds highly exaggerated to me. Second, knowing the play and stopping it are two different things, but keen anticipation and faster reactions help veterans show the play speed of younger players who'd whip them in a 40. Third, this speaks to the value of an offense that makes a lot of different plays look the same pre-snap and immediately post-snap, of which LaFleur's system is chock full.

Allen from Kaukauna, WI

Will the Packers keep Tim Boyle?

Tough decision, but given all the preseason reps Jordan Love needs and the investment the Packers made in him to be Rodgers' backup, I'm guessing no.

Gary from Cross Plains, WI

Mike, with all these road trips, have you had the chance to spend an extra day or two before or after the game to enjoy the area? Or were the coverage duties always such that it's always in/out? Do you see any opportunity in the future with better post-pandemic opportunities to work remotely? You (and wife) stay on the road trip a couple extra days and you get articles/interviews taken care of remotely and then see the sights? Lot of great things to do in those cities!

Team travel is very much in/out. Fly the afternoon before, back on a plane right after the game. And I have way too much work to do on Mondays to think about staying on the road longer.

Darin from Madisonville, KY

Hi Mike! Do you think the team will do another stock sale in our lifetime? I was a young 24-year-old father starting a family and trying to make ends meet when the last one happened, and it's my single biggest regret that I couldn't put together the $300 to buy a share back then. Would love an opportunity to buy one or two now, though.

I see this question a lot. The NFL's regulations stipulate the proceeds of a Packers stock sale must be used on capital projects, such as a major stadium or facility renovation or construction. Nothing along those lines is imminent, but something is bound to come up at some point. The Packers would then decide if they need or want a stock sale to help finance it.

Blake from Marion, IA

Good morning II! Are the three compensatory draft picks actually more of a headache this particular year? We are over the cap, with more cuts to come and more moves to make just to get under 182.5. All draft picks who make the team would need a contract that also fits under the cap. I know picks can be traded and such, but on such a tight budget does this actually make things harder on Mr. Ball and friends? Go Pack Go!

Only the top 51 contracts count against the cap in the offseason until the roster reduction to 53 (plus practice squad) before Week 1. The Packers' extra picks are all in the mid-to-late rounds, so if they make the team out of training camp, they'll probably count less on the cap than veteran players.

Austin from Buford, GA

Can you please explain how compensatory picks that correspond with player departures are determined? A fifth for Bulaga seems kind of low.

It is, but the compensatory system puts a fifth-round pick as the max for a departing free agent with at least 10 accrued seasons. Bulaga had played exactly 10 years with the Packers (2010-19).

Joshua from Houston, TX

I think just like last year, the tight end group is the most intriguing entering 2021. I wonder who steps up behind Robert Tonyan.

If Marcedes Lewis is re-signed and Josiah Deguara returns fully healthy from his torn ACL, it's a potentially dynamic group.

Packers TE Robert Tonyan celebrates his birthday Apr. 30. Take a look at photos of him from the 2020 season.

Mutt from Blaine, MN

Good morning II. My biggest fear with adding in more replay options is the extremely painful delays watching college basketball. March Madness is by far my favorite event, but the over-officiating with replay and the extended delays can make it unwatchable at times. Intentions are good, but execution is horrible. I don't see how the NFL could add more replay (sky judge) and not have more delays. What mechanisms can they use to ensure the flow of the game doesn't get disrupted?

I agree replay has gotten out of hand in college basketball, and execution of reviews should be looked at. I've long advocated for an NFL "safety official" whose sole responsibility is to watch for personal fouls and other safety violations that have complicated the rule book. I also think giving priority to the call on the field in replay review is anachronistic and a waste of time. So, trying to account for all that, my still-imperfect world would give the "sky judge" safety purview and set a time limit on any reviews. Reducing the burden of the on-field officials by taking safety upstairs would theoretically help them miss fewer regular calls. And a review should be "call what you see" and take no more than 30-45 seconds. Trying to "decide" whether or not to overturn the call on the field actually takes longer and gives precedence to a flawed decision in the first place.

Yariv from Astoria, NY

Why is the NFL so complicated?

Because it's the best of the best with the biggest of big bucks involved.

Craig from Bonduel, WI

Do you think the Packers will pick up a free-agent cornerback, or wait and get one in the draft to start opposite side from Jaire Alexander?

I'm hoping they do both, frankly. Investing a high draft pick at the position would appear prudent right now. In free agency, they won't be able to shop at the top of the market, but maybe they can find an affordable, mid-level option with starting experience. One doesn't preclude the other in my view.

Greg from Colorado Springs, CO

With most teams cutting players to get under the cap, it sounds like there will be some good bargains at least for a one-year deal. Your thoughts?

I agree. There may be a number of solid veterans who will take what they can get on a one-year deal in these circumstances in order to test the market right away again next year.

Patrick from Valrico, FL

If ever there was a year to be loaded with cap space this is it. Teams like the Jaguars, Jets and Patriots are in a prime position to snatch up a lot of great talent that other teams simply can't afford. Do you think we will see a bit more of a rapid turnaround that usual for those teams?

If they figure out their quarterback situations, the opportunity is there. If not, they're going to waste it.

Brian from Trego, WI

Seriously Mike, why would anyone ask the question, "What does team X need to do this season to take the next step to win the Super Bowl?" as if it's a given that they will retain their past performance AND win even more games with different players, coaches, opponents and injuries among other factors?

Learning that every season is its own entity helps immensely in the effort to understand this league. Happy Friday.

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