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Inbox: It's an impressive list

Teams play the hand they’re dealt

Former Packers G Marco Rivera

Rich from Manitou Springs, CO

With the upcoming guest appearance by Rodgers on "Jeopardy!" do you see a spike in TV ratings for those shows? With most of Packer fans around the country watching and even other NFL fans climbing aboard out of curiosity, I think the show will do pretty well.

I know I'll be watching.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

I read that the cap has been set at $182.5M this season from the original projection of $175M. Does this mean that the revenue losses were less than anticipated or that more of the losses will be pushed onto future years? As teams sign and restructure player contracts this year, do they have a pretty good idea what the cap will look like in '22 and '23?

The revenue losses are being spread out over three years of cap reductions. I think the slight boost over the $180M floor previously announced is due to the new TV deals being imminent, which will change the revenue picture considerably in '23.

Nick from Hamilton, Ontario

Hi Insiders, the salary cap was just set at 182.5M, and reports are saying we're 9ish million over the cap. Does that factor in the 3.6M we get to roll over, or are we closer to 5M over the cap with the rollover?

With their rollover credits, the Packers are roughly $5.5M over the cap, as of yesterday.

Braedon from Vestal, NY

Regarding David Bakhtiari's new contract: If I'm understanding correctly, the one big reason for having three voidable years is so they can prorate the signing bonus over five years instead of two?

Bingo. Cap-wise, yes. Pocket-wise, David gets all of his bonus now.

Douglas from Bloomington, IN

So what is keeping teams from having 10, 15, or 20 voidable years? Seems like you could give a QB a $60M signing bonus that only counts $3M in cap space. Is it just the looming dead money? Seems like something a team desperate to go all-in could do.

Five years is the maximum length of signing bonus proration on the cap.

Ryan from Noblesville, IN

Looks like the Packers get three comp picks. Rounds 4, 5, and 6. Who were they for?

In the simplest terms, Martinez, Bulaga and Fackrell, respectively.

Take a look at photos of Green Bay Packers WR Allen Lazard from the 2020 season.

Michael from Burnsville, MN

What impactful players have we drafted in the past with compensatory picks? What options do we have still to reduce enough cap space to make any moves or even sign our draft class?

Here's the collection I would rank as impact players taken with compensatory picks. It's an impressive list, dating back to the Wolf era: Tyrone Williams and Marco Rivera in '96, Matt Hasselbeck '98, Josh Bidwell '99, David Martin '01, Scott Wells '04, Tony Moll '06, Josh Sitton '08, Marshall Newhouse '10, Davon House '11, Mike Daniels '12, Richard Rodgers '14, Blake Martinez and Dean Lowry '16, Aaron Jones'17, JK Scott and Marquez Valdes-Scantling '18.

As for potential cap maneuvers, several players remain candidates (Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams, Za'Darius Smith) for restructures or extensions to gain the needed short-term relief. We'll see what the next several days have in store.

Don from Riverton, UT

"... make room as they go if the right free-agent opportunity comes along..." If the mechanism to make room is to rework a big contract, wouldn't they have to be pretty close to having it done to wrap it up that quickly? Do you think they could have a couple ready to finalize conditionally? Maybe with tweaking options for now vs. later?

I suspect they have ideas and contingencies. Some of those ideas may involve approaching a player to take a pay cut, and then outright releasing him if he refuses, in order to sign a preferred free agent. I'm not saying that will be the Packers' approach, but it's one way to go about it.

Payden from Lewiston, ID

How do RFA tenders (Robert Tonyan) and ERFA tenders (Allen Lazard) work? Do they count toward the cap?

Yes. When the tender is offered, the cap room must exist. Unless an ERFA tender is below the top 51 contracts. The top 51 are what count starting Wednesday.

Karter from Baltimore, MD

How does the tight end market affect how the Packers handle Tonyan's situation and what is the most likely scenario? First-, second-, third-round tender or an extension?

There's no third-round tender. Only first, second, and right of first refusal. I would expect the Packers to protect themselves with draft-pick compensation on Tonyan, but I'm not sure if they'll go with the first-round tender or second. The salary difference is almost $1.5M. They could still work on a long-term deal after offering the tender.

Dave from Sparta, WI

In years with the additional home game, will it go to green or gold package season ticket holders?

That would alternate as well.

Brian from Twain Harte, CA

Regarding the 17th game, I could see this morphing into 16 international games each year, maybe four at four locations (such as London, Mexico City, Toronto, and Germany). That way every team still gets eight home games and the league gets more international exposure. Do you think this could be a possibility?

As many readers have suggested, I could see the league using the 17th game to expand the international series, absolutely.

Kenton from Rochester, MN

Since this is the slow season, I have a purely speculative question: If the salary cap suddenly disappeared and the NFL became more like MLB and teams could spend whatever they wanted on players, do you think that would help or hurt the Packers organization? I know the Packers play in a small market, but their worldwide popularity together with having thousands of "owners" who could chip into the pot would seem to work in their favor. Or maybe not. What do you think?

With the renovated stadium and the continued development of all the land around Lambeau Field, the Packers would be fine and remain plenty competitive. They're in the top half, if not top third, in the league in revenue on a regular basis. Pre-Lambeau renovation, though, even with the salary cap in place the Packers were headed for trouble, which Bob Harlan stressed in the sales tax push. The revenue streams didn't exist, and holding a stock sale every five years would not have been a reliable nor successful business model.

Chase from Minnesota City, MN

Not to drag this discussion out further, but the idea of getting an extra possession by starting the game with the ball is somewhat of a non-factor. Last possession is very heavily influenced by the score of the game (run vs. no-huddle). I'll also add that the potential for back-to-back possessions is about more than just the mental momentum. Forcing the offense to get out of rhythm by sitting for 20-30 minutes, wearing down their defense, and giving your defense rest is a distinct advantage.

Once again, I continue to concur.

Dan from Toledo, OH

I think two things can be right. You can be right in saying Aaron Jones is a perfect fit for LaFleur and really unlocks this offense, and it is also true to say that paying RBs a lot of money is a poor strategy in the NFL. It'll be interesting to see which wins out, but I hope Aaron Jones gets every dollar he deserves.

In that respect, on a personal level, it's impossible not to root for him.

Tyler from Platteville, WI

I know Aaron Jones is a super-talented back that definitely deserves the money he's going to get, and the Packers should definitely try to do everything in their power to retain him. But why haven't they even attempted to re-sign Jamaal Williams? I feel like a combo of him and AJ Dillon would definitely be good enough to win, and we could keep him at a far lower cost than Jones. Is it just because of the similar styles of running?

Their styles aren't similar, which is what made them such a good combination. Jones has been the priority because he's the more productive, dynamic player. Williams could be the fallback, but re-signing him right away would close the door on Jones, and Williams could be looking for an opportunity to take on a larger role elsewhere anyway.

Keith from Bakersfield, CA

This may not be a popular opinion, but I'm glad the front office uses the "tag" so infrequently. Players' careers are so short, and it seems disrespectful for a team to deny a player a chance at a multi-year contract with some security. Pay the player what he's worth, or let him find that elsewhere. Do you get the sense that the Packers' reluctance to tag players comes from a more positive view of player relationships, or is it just a fluke that they've used it so rarely?

I think player relationships have factored into it before, and the Packers also have such a good track record of taking care of their own they don't have a standout candidate for the tag very often. I think this year's cap situation played into both the presence of a candidate and the reluctance to use it, if that makes sense.

Matt from Middleton, WI

Any idea when the team will unveil their alternate uniform for next season?

No word yet.

Nicholas from Baltimore, MD

Though drafting at the back end of each round is less entertaining and results in lower-quality players, does it provide a team with greater flexibility? There are greater opportunities to draft for need since there are more players with similar grades. Additionally, given the lower price of trades, teams can position themselves around the draft with greater ease. Could it be that it's actually better for crafting a team to be drafting lower?

Teams play the hand they're dealt (or in the case of the draft, the one they've earned). But games are decided by the true difference-makers, and there are only so many of those players in any given draft class. The odds of finding one of the few are greater the higher you're picking. There's no getting around that.

Take a look at photos of Green Bay Packers LB Za'Darius Smith from his Pro Bowl season.

Steven from Silver Spring, MD

Year 2 of the ML offense here turned out just like Year 2 did in ATL with the QB and offense in general exploding in production. When is the last time ML has had a Year 3 directing an offense? Are there any more precedents we can look towards?

Not really. The last time LaFleur was in the same place for at least three years was 2010-13 in Washington, where he was a position coach (QBs) in the NFL for the first time.

Adam from Wausau, WI

Hi Mike, your comment about the Packers opponents' locker room at Lambeau had me thinking...Which stadium has the "best/worst" opponents' locker room Thanks!

Wes would be able to better answer this now, because since his arrival for road duties I go to the press conferences and he goes to the locker rooms. But when I was doing the latter regularly, Soldier Field in Chicago and the Metrodome in Minneapolis stood out for having very small, crowded visiting facilities. I also remember a couple of places, like New Orleans, that had a split locker room with offense in one section and defense in another. That's fine for the players but makes the media's post-game work difficult.

William from Traverse City, MI

"After 15 years, a lot of road trips run together, and I admittedly don't always pay attention to exactly where we are." Or I'm not going to tell you exactly where we stay because you might show up there?

Ha, I don't really worry about that. The team takes adequate security measures for the players.

Gary from Sheboygan, WI

Mike, do you think a sky judge would result in more penalties being called or more flags being picked up?

Great question. It could depend on the crew working that day.

Paul from Hewitt, WI

Mike, when you were covering the Wisconsin Vally Conference for the Wausau Daily Herald did you cover any baseball or football games that Marshfield Senior High alum Adam Stenavich played? Coach Stenavich was Wisconsin Valley all-conference in both baseball and football. If you had, did you think your paths would meet in the NFL?

I covered the Valley from 1995-98, and Steno graduated from Marshfield in 2001, so we just missed each other.

Graydon from Menomonie, WI

Are there going to be Prospect Primer articles/videos this offseason? The draft is only seven weeks away.

There won't be a Prospect Primer video series this year because without a scouting combine we weren't able to gather the usual footage and material. Wes and I are kicking around ideas for a limited written series in April. Stay tuned.

George from North Mankato, MN

Talk about an impressive feat. How about The Gonzaga Bulldogs playing in their 24th consecutive WCC championship game?

Let the Madness begin. Happy Thursday.