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Inbox: It's a proven approach that works

The D-Train isn’t just a slogan. The camaraderie is real.

DL Kenny Clark

Jeff from Gladstone, MI

Etsy? Cricut? Brilliant! That made me laugh out loud! Great work Wes!

I was proud of that one.

Chun from El Monte, CA

The top teams from last season focused on re-signing their own players (Packers, Bucs, etc.). I think the formula for success is keeping your core players intact since they showed they can succeed in the offensive and defensive system. Teams that generally go all-out in free agency are the teams with losing records. I feel the Packers will sign a few second-tier free agents to fill holes and depth. The draft should be where we wrap things up and hopefully this year get to the bowl.

The Packers spent when they needed to spend two years ago, but the best teams build around their own talent and Green Bay has gotten back to that. The Packers might not win a lot of offseason awards from JohnBloggingInHisMomsBasement.com, but their organizational philosophy allows them to extend homegrown talent such as David Bakhtiari, Kenny Clark, Aaron Jones and eventually Davante Adams. It's a proven approach that works.

Ken from Arvada, CO

Don't you find it interesting that the Packers are happy with the direction of their roster and are tweaking it to win the Super Bowl and a lot of the other teams, especially the rest of the NFC North, are building their rosters to beat the Packers? Quite a difference in vision and focus.

I recorded an NFC North roundtable with Eric Smith (Minnesota), Tori Petry (Detroit) and Larry Mayer (Chicago) on Tuesday, and Larry mentioned something that washed over me in an awesome wave before we wrapped up the taping. He started covering the Bears in 1992, a run that encompassed all 29 seasons the Packers have been led by either Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers. With a few exceptions, Chicago has been chasing Green Bay the entire time.

John from Rockford, IL

Wes, I know it was before your time, but the Bears had a LB back in the '60s by the name of Joe Fortunato. I always thought that it was a great name for a LB. Is he any relation to the Joe Fortunato that the Pack just signed as a long snapper?

I haven't seen that anywhere, including his Delaware biography, but I'm still looking into it. Hopefully, I get a chance to talk to him this summer. Regardless, it appears Hunter Bradley will have competition this summer.

Steve from Lake Stevens, WA

I'm sure you're aware of the ongoing saga of "As the Talking Heads Turn" as it pertains to Aaron Rodgers contract situation. As a talking head closer to the characters involved, do you have anything you would like to say that hasn't been said already?

Have I said, "I don't care," yet? If not, I don't care. And that's not me being dismissive. That's me not giving a hoot what the talking heads have to say regarding Aaron Charles Rodgers – his contract, his play, the car he drives or the deodorant he wears. I've covered Aaron Rodgers for 10 years – almost a third of my life. That's 10 years of genetically modified narratives, wayward speculation, and inexhaustible talking points conveniently processed into snappy headlines and eye-catching lower thirds. You cannot get me to care what people outside of Brown County think of Rodgers or his contract. My eardrums have ruptured. The antenna is broken. You've lost me and I ask not to be found.

Al from Green Bay, WI

I love the discussion of best players at each draft position. Let's turn to free agents. GB has historically found some gems, including HOFer Willie Wood, Paul Coffman, Johnnie Gray, Mark Murphy, George Koonce and Ryan Longwell. Who are your top offensive and defensive FA choices over the past 20 years?

If we're talking about players who signed their first NFL contract with the Packers, I'd say Cullen Jenkins, Sam Shields, Lane Taylor, Evan Smith, Atari Bigby and Chris Banjo. If we're not including Tramon Williams, Allen Lazard and Robert Tonyan on Green Bay's list, then the Packers should get credit for finding Taysom Hill, as well.

Take a look at photos of Green Bay Packers DL Kingsley Keke from the 2020 season.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

Wes, the inclusion of the Hannes from Milwaukee submission Tuesday was prescient. It may explain why so many in Inbox think you have a crystal ball that can be used for predicting Packer draft picks. Count me as one that is glad to have Kevin King back with the green and gold.

You don't need to be a psychic to know what makes sense. Aaron Jones has talked about how he has "unfinished business" in Green Bay and I think the same applies with Kevin King. I can't wait to hear from King at some point.

Douglas from Bloomington, IL

I saw Adrian Amos made the comment on social media, but what do you think is the importance of returning the starting secondary? While I have my frustrations with King, how much stock should be put into continuity between defensive backs?

A lot. The D-Train thing isn't just a fun slogan. The camaraderie is real and it's at the root of the defense turning a corner last year. Now, the next step awaits.

Matt from Kolesin, Poland

Many of us guessed that the time of Preston Smith in Green Bay comes to an end. Even more of us wanted to say goodbye to Kevin King. The way both scenarios went should lead us to the following assumption: the point is to get good value for money. As it was analyzed with Preston, we get a decent player with high ceiling for reduced price. I wish him and Kevin King to be their 2019 versions again under the new DC.

Fans are emotional. But the job of a GM and scouts is to take the emotion out of it and make the best decision possible for the football team. And the Packers are better with Preston Smith and Kevin King on this roster.

Mitch from Pflugerville, TX

It occurred to me that if D-Bak can't go Week 1, Elgton Jenkins could realistically be the best starter at all five positions on the O-line. Incredible.

He's that darn good.

Bill from Clive, IA

Hi Wes. Please excuse if this is a repeat question, but with all this talk about cap money and contract machinations to rearrange when the money counts, this bit eludes me: I understand that signing/roster bonuses are fully earned, but salaries are earned per game over the full season, right? So if a player with a multi-million dollar salary is injured in Week 2 and doesn't suit up the rest of the year, what happens to his paycheck? And what cap impact is there if that happens?

You're getting base salary confused with per-game roster bonuses. The base salary gets paid out as long as the player is on the active roster or injured reserve. Per-game roster bonuses are paid out in 16 increments if the player is on the game-day roster. The cap ramifications are complicated. Let's just say it goes back to the likely to be earned vs. unlikely to be earned language.

Venny from Montgomery, AL

Given that LeRoy Butler was drafted in 1990, are there any interviews documenting how he felt coming to the Packers while we were in the midst of NFL purgatory? Surely draft prospects didn't see the franchise's reemergence coming. I think many players mentioned that Green Bay was the last place they wanted to go in the '80s.

I haven't asked Butler about it directly, but I never got the sense he was despondent over coming to Green Bay. That's not LeRoy's style. While some players might not have liked coming to Green Bay during that time, the Packers were only two years removed from a 10-win season. Light was beginning to form.

Dale from Lima, NY

Which Packers' position group currently has the most overall talent...greatest depth...least need? Despite all the hubbub last year about not drafting a WR, I think it just might be the WRs. What do you think?

Receiver is up there, but I'd say outside linebacker has the most "depth" as it relates to "need." The Packers could draft someone but it's unlikely that individual sees much action in 2021 with the Packers wanting the Smith Bros. and Rashan Gary on the field as much as possible.

Thomas from Cedar Rapids, IA

I have heard nothing about Lane Taylor. Wouldn't re-signing him be the answer to questions on the O-line? Or is the injury history too much for the team to risk another contract? On another subject, I like the King deal. A "prove-it" deal may be just what both sides need.

I felt bad for Taylor. He might have been the MVP of training camp after that long road back from the biceps injury. He wins his job back but then tears his ACL in the opener against Minnesota. Taylor, now 31, reportedly took a visit to San Francisco but remains a free agent. With Corey Linsley gone and Bakhtiari also on the mend, Taylor could be worth a look if he's hitting all his checkmarks in rehab and wants to play next season.

William from Newburgh, IN

Now that Jordan Love is the No. 2 QB, let's hope he gets some playing time within preseason games. It would be nice to allow him to showcase his skill set. Also, he better be practicing his kneel downs cause next year he's gonna have to use them.

I watched Love closely last summer, perhaps closer than any other player in camp. It was an extremely small sample size but you could see a difference in Love by the time August was over. I liked how Matt LaFleur created that 10-minute period for young players to get Love extra reps but there's no replicating in-game action. That's what Love needs and that's what he's gonna get this summer.

Mike from Marquette, MI

Wes, on Wednesday, you mentioned that the loss of Jamaal Williams should net us a compensatory draft pick. And I certainly agree with that. However, with a limit of 32 picks in any given year, and the net losses are somehow ranked, could we lose out? If other teams' net losses were deemed to be more than ours (so somebody says other teams lost a net of 32 "better" free agents), could we get stuck with no pick for Jamaal? Unlikely, for sure, but is it possible?

If the Packers don't sign an unrestricted free agent, as sure as Sunday they'll get a pick for Williams. Remember, compensatory picks aren't distributed to teams that lost players with the highest APYs. It's based on a net-loss formula. If a team loses a player to a $10 million per year contract but then signs another top unrestricted free agent to a comparable deal, the two moves cancel each other out and the team gets nothing. Comparatively, Andrew Sendejo's one-year, $2.25 million contract with Cleveland last year earned the Vikings a seventh-round pick.

Jordan from Virginia Beach, VA

Good day, Wes! Which locker-room interview are you looking forward to most once you're allowed access again? With Jamaal Williams gone, I think getting the Smiths together after a defensively dominant win would be gold.

Marcedes Lewis. I have a full year of MMA to catch up with him on.

Matt from Fitchburg, WI

Morning Wes, and thanks to both you and Spoff for the two-week stints lately. My question is about the veteran salary benefit. Is there a limit on how many times a team can use it this year, and if not, how many of the currently unsigned Packers free agents do you think might end up coming back on a contract that qualifies? It would be great to get the gang back together as much as possible, and this seems like the only way, given the current cap situation.

There's no limit and any vested veteran is eligible for it, but this time of year, players aren't typically willing to play for what's perceived to be the minimum until the free-agent market officially dries up. It's more common with in-season signings.

Gary from Tompkinsville, KY

Didn't the Packers trade Matt Hasselbeck to Seattle for Ahman Green?

Those were separate trades. On April 15, 2000, the Packers sent Fred Vinson and a sixth-round pick to Seattle for Green and a fifth-rounder. The Hasselbeck trade wasn't until a year later.

Don from Riverton, UT

How would you characterize the usage of Hinkle Field vs. Nitschke Field? In-season and preseason.

It was a little different this past year because they resodded Hinkle, so that field wasn't available until around midseason. Traditionally, the Packers will practice on Nitschke for training camp and then move to Hinkle once the regular season begins.

Take a look at photos of Green Bay Packers WR Davante Adams from his Pro Bowl season.

Scott from Grovetown, GA

Morn' Wes, I agree with Sal from Hailey, SD about the NFL reevaluating DirecTV rights to NFL Sunday Ticket. Reading the report about the new TV agreements, I was hoping DirecTV would be mentioned. I used to have DirecTV just for Sunday NFL Ticket, but could no longer justify the $400-plus price tag when oodles of Packers games got national attention. I only needed it for four to six games a season. Do you feel that this concept might move to streaming? Or even an a la carte option would be nice.

I'd love that. But like what I said regarding Kyle Fuller last week, I'm not the one cutting checks or pinching pennies. The NFL will do what makes the most sense for the league. Based on the most recent TV deal, it's working.

Quinlan from Mead, NE

In regard to things moving towards streaming, I agree that the shift is inevitable. Never in my years did I think I, as a rural pastor, would need to learn video editing skills and get the church set up with streaming equipment. I believe that COVID has pushed many systems into the 21st century sooner than they would have naturally. The biggest surprise is how many of my 65-plus congregants enjoy watching online! Streaming means you can watch it from any device from almost any location!

Necessity is the mother of all invention, right? I never thought I'd have to teach my 90-year-old grandmother how to read the newspaper on an iPad or how to navigate YouTube. But then 2020 happened.

Dave from Rockford, IL

Correct me if I'm wrong, but won't half of the league have nine home games and eight away games, and half have eight home games and nine away games? Who determines which teams get the extra home games? It would be bad if the Pack had to go play in Buffalo while the Vikings get to host the Jaguars for Game 17.

It's my understanding the NFL would alternate which conference is hosting each year. Games would also stay within the division (e.g. NFC North hosting AFC West).

Lori from Heredia, Costa Rica

Hey Weston, we know that Spoff has a soft spot for Culver's Caramel Cashew Custard. Given that you are lactose intolerant, what is your favorite dessert to go out for locally? If I lived where you do, I'd choose that Door County Cherry Pie. Oh my.

I'm not lactose intolerant. My taste buds are just cheese intolerant. I've eaten my share of Culver's custard but my favorite local dessert would have to be cherry pie at OJ's Midtown in Gillett.

Larry from Chubbuck, ID

Wes, if "Draft Day" is the best fictional movie about the draft, which movie is second? Maybe you can list the top five. On second thought, is there another one?

There is no second. You've been blessed with "Draft Day." What else did you want? What else do you need?

Mark from Hudson, WI

Awesome adaptation of a classic line by "Crash David" from Janesville, WI to close the II today - that one brightened my day! Got me wondering where Bull Durham falls on your list of all-time sports movies? A man willing to "fight anyone" for "Draft Day" surely has to be willing to fight for "Bull Durham!"

"Draft Day" is an instant classic but "Bull Durham" tops the list for my favorite sports movie. It's not close.

Neal from Ft Worth, TX

Good morning Wes! I've always wondered if it annoyed you and Mike that other media outlets can report breaking team news earlier than you are allowed, as an employee of the team. Then it suddenly hit me that you are both journalists, not "reporters". Others may report the names and numbers first, but it's you who tells us the why and gives a deeper look into who these people are. I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you. Now, onto my important question, what'd Ma Hod make for lunch?

You're the best, Neal. I enjoyed some chicken and rice on Wednesday and have some crab cakes coming today. Two more days of Hod and then y'all get your Spoff back.


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