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Inbox: It sure looks like he's already there

Mock drafts are not useless

G Elgton Jenkins

Daniel from Waukesha, WI

Do you think the Packers have a chance to win the Super Bowl this year?

Nope. No way. Not a chance. They've been so far away the last couple of years they might as well just forget it.

Rusty from Eustace, TX

Do you ever remember a season where so much veteran talent is going to be available on the open market? There should be some bargains if (and that's a BIG if) we can find a way under the cap.

Well, the Packers have no choice but to get under the cap. Gutekunst indicated last week they aren't necessarily going to clear a bunch of extra room in advance to pursue free agents, but rather make room as they go if the right free-agent opportunity comes along.

Matt from Cedar Rapids, IA

Looking at Dak's contract, along with other recent contracts signed by QBs, I feel like I'm missing something. They are good, but not nearly as good or consistent as AR12 has been. Is it just that hard to find a QB that they have to pay them in hopes they continue to improve? Or is it something else?

Not having one is a license to lose in this league, and starting over at the position is fraught with coin flips and crossed fingers. No one wants to live like that. Every new contract signed by an elite QB becomes the next record-setting contract. It's been that way for a while now.

Bob from Sydney, Australia

Hi Mike. In the early days of this forum, Vic used to preach taking what you wanted on offense. It was easy to buy into the idea. But from memory, you wrote persuasively for a less stringent view, especially over the final McCarthy years. Does LaFleur's offense of multiple options from similar looks take us back closer to Vic's view? Does the GB offense now take what it wants, not as in run v. pass, but as in pushing defenses to set up for one or the other, then exploiting the outcome?

Interesting take. To the main premise, I would still say no, because the quarterback is making so many decisions pre-snap and post-snap based on the defensive alignment, reaction, etc. But I see your point. The offense is setting things up to do what it wants to do. I would say it's doing so without forcing the issue or locking itself into anything, so to speak, because of the options built in.

Dalton from DeForest, WI

Does it make sense for the Packers to franchise tag Aaron Jones, and would that signal a more short-term approach than what Gutekunst has seemingly been constructing the roster for in recent years?

It makes sense if they want more time to work on a long-term deal, if the Packers don't want Jones going anywhere else in 2021, and/or if they want to trade him to get better than a compensatory draft pick for his departure. As for the "short-term approach," I think the Packers' desire is to keep Jones long term, but tagging him would indicate if long term isn't in the cards, one more year is better than none.

Mike from Madison, WI

I am reading articles as Chicago being a home to either Russell Wilson or Deshaun Watson. Who do you think would be the best fit and who would cause the most problems for the Packers? Personally, I believe Watson would be the more difficult to cover, because of his escapability. The last few years have shown that Wilson can be gotten to.

Either would make those two games against the Bears much tougher propositions for the Packers. Aaron Rodgers is 21-4 in full games he's played against the Bears. That .840 winning percentage would be more difficult to maintain against those QBs you mention.

Bill from Savannah, GA

This is not really a question, but a response to Bryan from Madison. First, da Bears had to pay Cutler starting-QB, second-contract money. Each of the last three years he was there, the preseason rumors were about whether or not they'd cut him, and have to eat the contract. Second, the best shot they were ever going to have at getting better, fast, was the year they had a choice between Mahomes and Watson. You can't overstate how wrong they got it.

All true.

Venny from Montgomery, AL

In regards to the players that wear the green dot (QBs, LBs, or safeties), what are the limits to the communication between the coach and the player? Do the mics automatically turn off at the snap? The coach can't yell "WR 'X' is open" or "Screen pass to the right" after the snap, right? Or is the 3-4 seconds of play development insufficient for coach and player to read and communicate effectively?

The communication is cut off with 15 seconds left on the play clock or when the ball is snapped, whichever comes first.

Geoffrey from Rosemount, MN

Is Patrick Peterson still with the Cardinals? I would love to watch him line up against Davante Adams, then refill the popcorn during commercials for Jaire Alexander vs. Hopkins. Sounds like a game made for Sunday Night Football.

Peterson is a pending free agent. The chances of him returning to Arizona probably took a hit with the contract the Cardinals gave Watt, but we'll see.

Travis from Kelley, FL

Regarding Sam Shields, how do you think the league passed up his talent so many times? Do you recall the moment when you saw him practice and thought, "Whoa, someone is going to be sorry they didn't draft him"?

It was no surprise Shields wasn't drafted because he'd been a wide receiver at Miami, and he transitioned to corner his last year in college. As soon as you saw him on the practice field, his speed was obvious. He had a lot to learn at corner, but in his first training camp, even when he got beat, his closing speed made you take notice, and you knew he had a chance. I certainly didn't predict he'd become the Packers' third corner as a rookie, but he proved to be a fast learner with physical gifts you can't teach.

David from Appleton, WI

Good morning! Because you couldn't travel to away games due to COVID restrictions, what stadium food did you miss the most? And, looking forward to the 2021 away schedule, what stadium food are you looking forward to eating in the press box and at which stadium?

Tampa Bay and San Francisco have always had good food, so we missed those. We get another crack at San Francisco this year, and Arizona has been good in the past too, if I recall, though it's been a while.

Packers RB AJ Dillon celebrates his birthday on May 2. Take a look at photos of him from his rookie season.

Col from Ludlow, UK

Hi guys. I know I'm missing something, but I don't know exactly what. Why is receiving the second half kickoff preferred, when it guarantees nothing about who has the ball at the end of the first half? I get that it's great when you do score either side of halftime, but when possession of the ball is key to scoring, the number of possessions can only be maximized by receiving the ball at the start of the game. Our offense set records for opening-drive scores, so why do we defer?

I think it's just the importance placed on that opening drive of the second half to influence the outcome. If you're down two scores, you can make it a one-score game before the opponent gets the ball again. If you're up one score, you can make it a two-score game and put the pressure on the opponent. If the game is tied, scoring right out of the halftime break gives you a lead with a lot less time left than in the first quarter. There's a pivotal quality to that first possession of the second half that I don't think exists with the first possession of the game, when things are barely getting started.

Dan from Cross Plains, WI

Can you clarify the ruling on the 17th game? Is that 100% confirmed next year? Is the league just working through what that means?

It is not 100% confirmed, but it is "expected," to use Mark Murphy's term.

Jeff from Lake Forest, CA

Hey Mike, if the 17th game does go through as planned, have you seen any projections on what kind of impact that would have on league revenue? Would it be very impactful on the following season's cap? Lastly, if there were no pandemic and the cap had expanded as in previous years, would Corey Linsley and Jones both be re-signed without much debate? If ifs and buts were candies and nuts.

If the cap had grown as usual, I think the Packers would have had a better shot to re-sign both Jones and Linsley, but I wouldn't guarantee it. I believe the 17th game is factored into the league's greatly increased asking price for broadcast rights fees in the new TV contracts. Also, just to use simple, round numbers, another 16 regular-season games across the league in 70,000-seat stadiums at $100 per ticket is another $112 million in total revenue, not including parking, concessions, merchandise, etc., from those games. The more revenue to divide between the owners and players, the larger the cap.

Chun from El Monte, CA

The draft is coming, there is one thing for certain and that is 99% of the mock draft for the Packers will be wrong. The Packers don't make the popular consensus picks but what is on their draft board. I highly doubt this stops anyone including myself from reading those mock drafts though.

Mock drafts are not useless, but their value is not in seeing the specific player mocked to the Packers at their pick. It's in looking at all the players frequently pegged across several mock drafts in the range where the Packers pick, to get an idea of who's projected to be available and of good value when the Packers are on the clock.

Richard from Menasha, WI

There must be questions you get fairly regularly that really irritate you guys. My least favorite question I see quite often in the II is "What say you?" What say you?

I honestly don't care how someone asks a question, as long as it's respectful and sensible. When those criteria aren't met, it's annoying. I don't want to speak for Wes, but I also wish people would understand I have no hidden agenda in the posts I choose. I see comments from time to time about people growing tired of the compliments thrown at me and Wes, as though they think that helps people get their questions answered and our goal is to shower ourselves with praise. That's simply not true. If the question/comment is a good one and I'm interested in responding to it, I don't like to edit people's submissions unnecessarily. That's it, that's all. And now I've talked too much about Inbox.

James from Appleton, WI

The Packers can push cap money down the road only so far before they run into Alexander's looming payday. He's irreplaceable. Do you think other younger Packers, like Elgton Jenkins and Darnell Savage, can gain that kind of status of becoming players the Packers can't afford to lose? It's a high bar, looking at who the Packers stand to lose this year.

With Jenkins, it sure looks like he's already there. I would suspect next year at this time the Packers will work to sign him to an extension before he goes into the final year of his rookie deal. The team will definitely exercise the fifth-year option on Alexander this spring, keeping him under contract for at least two more years. They'll have the same decision to make on Gary and Savage next spring, so we'll see how Year 3 goes for them.

Douglas from Bloomington, IL

Do you believe that there is a position that if the Packers address it in FA will alter the way they draft? For example, if the packers sign a veteran CB, that they will look to Day 2 or 3 before drafting one, whereas if they don't sign a FA they look at a Day 1 CB?

No. I think any free agent the Packers might sign at cornerback, offensive tackle or defensive line would not take that position out of the running for using the first-round pick.

Steve from Algoma, WI

Not a question but a comment. My daughter is a junior at Stanford and taking classes in sports journalism. She had an assignment to interview a current sports writer. I suggested she reach out to Cliff Christl. He didn't just answer her email, he gave her an hour-long interview and regaled her with stories about some of his favorite research. Sometimes we don't realize how lucky we are in Packer Nation. Our team, our history, our community and its people are treasures unique in the NFL.

Cliff is as thorough as they come, and I've always enjoyed our conversations, too. I've known him for a long time. Back when he was at the Journal Sentinel and I was at the Press-Gazette, he'd annually put together his own all-state high school football team, and he'd call me to get my take on the players I covered. I was only one of I'm sure dozens of people he called every year, but I always felt honored that he valued my opinions.

Todd from Owasso, OK

It's a bit more complex than just "I cut, you choose." It's more like putting just a bit more juice in the plain glass because I want the Star Wars glass.

Nicely done. Happy Tuesday.