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Inbox: It's quirky, but just the way it fell

The Packers catch a break compared to the Vikings and Bears

TE Jace Sternberger, G/T Billy Turner and G Lucas Patrick
TE Jace Sternberger, G/T Billy Turner and G Lucas Patrick

James from Chicago, IL

What player from this draft class will make a huge impact over the next 4-5 years, but will ultimately be out of the Packers' price range for a second contract? And will they be sending scouts to high schools to find the player they're going to draft as his replacement? (Sorry, I didn't think the recent questions had been absurd enough.)

Duly noted.

Subhadeep from Middletown, CT

I think some fans wants to win the Super Bowl or contend for it every year and also get the opportunity of drafting players in the top five every season. I call it the rich get richer and poor get poorer syndrome.

Or something about having your cake and eating it, too.

Dar from Mansfield, TX

Spoff, there sure is a lot of talent already on the market and a ton of financial questions for the Packers to answer before next week. What will happen? I can't help but think your well-timed (and well-deserved) vacation is a way to keep Wes in his place even when there are no lunches to steal, you sly dog. His head likely will be swimming next week!

I have full confidence that Wes will handle everything with aplomb (and remain well-fed). My occasional jokes about his "place" are just that, jokes. Wes takes a back seat to no one on this beat.

Rich from De Pere, WI

Getting ready to pay for our season tickets and I realized how incredibly difficult our schedule is this year! I have no idea on how the NFL creates schedules but I am having trouble figuring out a reason why we would play the 49ers for the third straight year on the road? Can you shed any light on this one?

Quirks like this come up in the scheduling formula from time to time. A lot of folks are asking about this, so I'll try to explain it this way. There are two "reasons" the 49ers might be on the Packers' schedule – either the NFC North and West divisions are matched up that year, or the two teams finished in the same place in their respective division standings the prior season. The home/away rotations for those "reasons" are independent of one another. The last two years (2019-20), the two teams played due to the placeholder reason, as the Packers and 49ers both finished third in 2018, and both won their divisions in 2019. The West hosted the 2019-20 placeholder games against the North because the North hosted them in the previous two-year cycle (2016-17, when the Packers hosted the Seahawks both years). In 2021, the full North and West divisions are matched up. In the previous division-matchup year (2018), the Packers hosted the 49ers and Cardinals, and traveled to play the Rams and Seahawks. So this year, Green Bay will host LA and Seattle, and travel to San Francisco and Arizona. The Packers also had a road game at San Francisco in the 2019 playoffs, which would make 2021 the Packers' fourth straight trip to San Francisco, but playoff matchups have no bearing on the regular-season scheduling formula. Like I said, it's quirky, but just the way it fell.

Phil from Madison, WI

In your answer to Austin from Buford, GA, you said that a fifth-rounder is the top compensatory pick for a veteran with 10 accrued seasons (Bryan Bulaga in our case). Why then did New England get a third and fourth for Tom Brady and Kyle Van Noy?

Because there's one exception to the 10-season, fifth-round-max rule – quarterbacks.

Venny from Montgomery, AL

I read that the Packers received three compensatory picks for this year's draft and also reviewed a list of the top 18 comp picks of all time in which the Packers had three players listed. I also noticed on the list that Brian Dawkins and Larry Allen were second-round comp picks. When did the NFL stop awarding compensatory picks in the second round?

I tried to research this and couldn't find very satisfactory answers. What I did glean is in the first several years of comp picks in the mid-1990s, different rules/formulas were used, resulting in some higher selections than we see today. Those included Philadelphia getting a first-rounder in the first year of the system in 1994 for losing (guess who?) Reggie White. Best I can tell, all comp picks since 1999 have been in the third round or later.

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

Jeffrey from Taylors, SC

My question has to do with the offensive line. Who do you see on the current roster that could play left tackle if David Bakhtiari is not available at the start of next season?

Billy Turner played left tackle during the playoffs when Bakhtiari was out, and Elgton Jenkins handled some spot duty there as well. The other option would be Yosh Nijman.

Sean from Boulder, CO

With the reduced cap, every team will be doing what they can to find extra cap space, restructuring and extending contracts. But isn't it time to be more prudent than ever? After all, the last thing a team wants is to still be behind the eight ball with an increased cap due to kicking too many cans down the road. I can see Rodgers and Adams being targets, but is there anyone else you could see being extended or restructured at this point to find more space without wrecking the future cap?

Reports are the Packers did restructures Friday with Adrian Amos and Preston Smith. Both involved converting a roster bonus to signing bonus to defer some cap charge. Amos's was minor, and Smith's was more involved, also including incentive-based pay. As far as additional savings with a potential extension, Za'Darius Smith would be another possibility.

Sawyer from Simpsonville, SC

I was going to say that wasting a first- or second-round pick on a slot receiver was silly, and then I remembered Randall Cobb.

Taken at the bottom of the second round, and was an instant plug-in return man, too. But the Packers also had the luxury somewhat of making that pick, coming off a Super Bowl title and with fewer departure concerns in free agency.

Jeff from Brooklyn, WI

Robert Tonyan proved he's the type of TE the Packers have been needing for a while now. Should Brian Gutekunst try to get him signed now or take a chance he doesn't have a great year so his price tag goes way up?

This is no knock on Tonyan, but signing him long term now might be considered buying high. If Josiah Deguara returns to the mix and Jace Sternberger stays healthy and contributes more, Tonyan's 11 TDs could be difficult to repeat. The more immediate question is first- or second-round RFA tender. I'm guessing second.

David from Appleton, WI

Spoff has talked about the press box decorum while covering the game, basically not cheering on the teams on the field. How often do you find this decorum breached by visiting press?

It happens on occasion, but it's not a rampant problem by any means. The vast majority of credentialed media know what's what. Most of the vocal noise you hear are people marveling at a great play or expressing disbelief at a terrible officiating call. We all do that, and it has nothing to do with cheering for someone.

William from Newburgh, IN

Several valid inputs on replays makes me wish the replays were at game speed. The replay officials should view what the field official saw. Many times, even freeze framing, still makes a call debatable so go ahead and review but stay with what passes the eye test at game speed. What are your thoughts?

This is a common opinion, but if I've said it once I've said it a hundred times, it's just not practical and would invite more chaos and outrage. You can't have all the multi-angle, slo-mo, high-tech looks available to the fans at home but not to the officials who have to make the calls. That would define a head-in-the-sand approach.

Mike from Pittsfield, MA

If the Packers use their compensatory draft picks to trade up and select a corner...would that be the best option for the upcoming year? You'd think having two first-rounders as starting corners would be great, but with the island effect that Jaire Alexander has created, would putting a rookie on the opposite side be in the team's best interest? He'd certainly receive a lot of attention from opposing quarterbacks.

He would, but scheme and veteran safeties can always help. As for trading the compensatory picks to move up, those alone won't get the Packers very far. Packaging all three would only be worth a boost of 3-4 slots.

Packers S Adrian Amos celebrates his birthday Apr. 29. Take a look at photos of him from the 2020 season.

Joshua from Houston, TX

I think I'd take Tauscher over Bulaga. What year of line do you think was your favorite/best?

That's a tough choice between the '03 group (Clifton, Wahle, Flanagan, Rivera, Tauscher) and the '14 unit (Bakhtiari, Sitton, Corey Linsley, Lang, Bulaga). Green rushing for 1,883 yards and Favre getting sacked only 19 times gives the nod to '03.

Tom from Beaver Dam, WI

With the teams that the Packers will be playing this year 13-3 might be tough to do again. Right now it looks like a brutal schedule. What do the schedules look like for the other three teams in the division? Will it be a challenge for the Vikings, Bears and Lions to match their records as well?

Other than home/away assignments, the schedules amongst the NFC North rivals are the same for 14 of the 16 games. The two different games are as follows: Packers play Washington at home and New Orleans on the road, while the Vikings have Cowboys and Panthers, Bears have Giants and Buccaneers, and Lions have Eagles and Falcons. Assuming Brees retires and Prescott returns, the Packers catch a break compared to the Vikings and Bears there. Then again, if the 17th game happens, Green Bay gets Kansas City and the rest of the division gets a non-playoff opponent from the AFC West.

Scott from Grovetown, GA

Every time you mention a sky judge I picture a person harnessed and tethered to several points throughout the stadium. Up there flying about similar to what the overhead camera does, although he would have to have a controller to direct his flight. And perhaps could even add a broom to his outfit to make it that much more entertaining.

I think the individual would be more effective with access to multiple screens and camera angles.

Jimmy from Rockford, IL

Mike, nice job working "anachronistic" into the Inbox. I agree with you on the safety judge, and was wondering, wouldn't that also help out with the flagging of the retaliator rather than the instigator?


Mike from Mount Prospect, IL

Good morning, Mike! With the explosion of WR in the past twenty years, what are the statistical benchmarks a WR has to reach to be elected to the HOF? To phrase it another way, how much weight is given to perception/memories of a given player and how important are the numbers?

The statistical standards will keep rising the way the game is played. I can't begin to predict what a benchmark might be in another decade. Longevity, a la Larry Fitzgerald, as a dominant, game-altering player will matter most at the position.

Mark from Monrovia, CA

Hey Mike, enjoyed the piece on Runyan. With Jenkins the year before and Jon Runyan last year, Gute is on a roll. What are the chances he goes 3-for-3? Would it have to be in the first or second rounds, or could we get lucky in the later rounds?

The Packers are in the market for a tackle first and foremost, and those are hard to find if you wait too long. Bakhtiari is the exception, not the rule, but if earlier targets disappear, it never hurts to try.

Linda from Lakewood Ranch, FL

Good morning, Mike. Russ Ball (and Brian Gutekunst) will be very busy the next few days! Do you think they will have time to get some sleep?

I'm sure they've done plenty of legwork and they're getting ready to make their moves. Deadlines always spur action.

Eric from Ellicott City, MD

I remember Vic as having disgust at the word "that" being overused when writing. It actually made me more aware of my grammar and writing skills, which I didn't expect would come from reading a Q&A column about the Packers. As I sit here and appreciate the great sports journalism has provided us, what is one of your grammar pet peeves?

Whatever they are must not bother me as much anymore, because I just did two straight weeks of Inbox without including a single grammar lesson. I guess I'm lightening up.

Mark from West Bend, WI

Heather from Green Bay, there are five Culver's in metro Green Bay. You and your friends stake them out, the guy wearing briefs and Brewers shirt, carrying a notepad and pencil, when the flavor of the day is caramel cashew is Spoff. Tackle him. Have a great vacation.

This crowd is really something.

Max from Toledo, OH

Hello Mr. Spofford. You end your Inbox with "happy (day of the week)." What is your happiest day of the week?

The one that starts my two-week disappearing act. Wes is back on Monday. Have a great weekend, everybody.