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Inbox: It was a 60-minute masterclass

A good GM utilizes every available avenue of player acquisition

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WR Davante Adams

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Are II submissions up with many people working from home?

They're way up but I also think the start of free agency has something to do with that. Good morning!

Eric from Kenosha, WI

I am impressed with how Brian Gutekunst manages to use free agency effectively and get many bites at the draft apple. Last year he spent big, then used trades to get additional late-round picks, and this year he is winning at the compensation pick game.

A good GM utilizes every available avenue of player acquisition. Two years ago, Gutekunst acquired a ton of draft picks. Last year, he spent in free agency. This year, he pulled a good trick out of Ted Thompson's playbook in acquiring veterans who were recently released to help replace outgoing unrestricted free agents. If Rick Wagner and Christian Kirksey were UFAs, their contracts would've dented the compensatory-pick equation. Instead, it's a massive opportunity for Green Bay to reload without losing future draft capital.

Bob from Racine, WI

I have to admit I'm a bit nervous at losing two great linebackers and Bulaga at right tackle. Those guys are hard to replace. How confident are you that BG and the staff will keep the Pack on track for 2020?

The Packers lost some good players but you have to see the forest through the trees here. There also are indispensable guys in the prime of their careers coming up for contracts in the next calendar year. Gutekunst has Green Bay on track for 2020 but don't lose sight of 2021, 2022, etc.

Marin from West Lawn, PA

While deciding on which players to retain and allow to depart for free agency is never easy, is the debate whether or not to bring back Tramon Williams perhaps be one of the more difficult decisions Gute and Russ Ball have to make this offseason?

Yeah, because Williams can still play. Talking with Davon House last month, he believes Tramon Williams still has five more years in him with how well he takes care of his body. It's a tough call because the Packers have young cornerbacks ( Chandon Sullivan, Josh Jackson and Ka'dar Hollman) pushing for roles, too.

Tom from New Berlin, WI

With Bulaga going to the Chargers, do you feel Wagner will have the necessary ability to mold with the other linemen?

I don't know Wagner but I know that offensive line room. I have no concern about that whatsoever. Josh Sitton was cut a week before the 2016 opener and that group still found its way.

Joshua from Houston, TX

Our middle linebacker problems are solved. Clay can come back and play there.

I kid you not. At one point on Thursday evening, we received 26 consecutive submissions related to Clay Matthews. That has to be a record for one single topic. Listen, he was still productive last year as a pass-rusher and is within nine sacks of eclipsing 100 for his career. He also turns 34 in May. There comes a time in every veteran's career when he must make a decision about what he envisions his role to be moving forward. It's up to Matthews how he wants to write that final chapter of his football career.

Matty from Janesville, WI

Who needs a Cadillac when you have a Marcedes? Really excited that man is in green and gold this year.

Nothing's official until it's official…but that's a no-brainer to me. Marcedes Lewis is the kind of veteran you want in your locker room. He's a natural leader who holds others accountable. I thought Lewis showed last year he could still play when placed in the right scheme.

Janet from Brown Deer, WI

Do we have a chance financially at landing Eric Ebron or did they trick me to click on a bunch of stories?

Both?

Dave from Sparta, WI

My memory is not great, but have watched nearly every Packers game in the last decade. With the NFL offering free access to their Game Pass platform, could you suggest your favorite games to view again?

The Packers and Patriots at Lambeau Field in 2014. As far as regular-season games go, that was the tour de force of the McCarthy/Rodgers Era. It was a 60-minute masterclass in football against the league's eventual Super Bowl champion.

Joseph from Salt Lake City, UT

Immediately took advantage of the NFL Game Pass and watched the 2009 season opener against the Bears. Everyone needs to go back and watch DT Johnny Jolly's interception on a third-and-goal in the second quarter. Inconceivable!

It's a shame Jolly's career was sidetracked by legal issues and then the neck injury because he was one heck of football player. Thompson doesn't get enough credit for finding Jolly in the sixth round.

Al from Green Bay, WI

The new CBA enables 48 active players (assuming 8 O-linemen) instead of 46. Besides the O-line, what position group is most likely to benefit?

Fullback.

Darrell from San Antonio, TX

I know the thought is to draft the best player available regardless of position but don't you feel if the Packers are going to get a game-changing player on offense they have to draft a receiver with the first pick? Common sense would dictate that if someone like Queen, or a Gallimore or Blacklock are there, that's who you must select. If we go that route, however, what are the chances that one of the elite wideouts are still there at 62? Our GM has some hard decisions that I don't envy.

I'd say the chances are pretty good actually. Second-rounders can be hit or miss but the Packers have a very high batting average drafting receivers there. That's why they haven't needed to use a first-rounder on the position in 18 years. I firmly believe this draft is deep enough at receiver to get a good one at No. 62…if that's the route they choose to go.

Joe from Des Moines, IA

What are your thoughts on Montravius Adams taking a step forward this season? There's a lot of discussion about our defensive line, and I remember Coach Pettine being pleased with his progress this past training camp.

It's a make-or-break year for Montravius. I think he'd tell you that, too. He's shown flashes but not consistently enough to be a defensive staple. Now is the time to put everything together.

Aaron from Brooklyn, NY

You mentioned the price going up for extensions for David Bakhtiari and Kenny Clark, but I keep hearing that an extension would lower their cap hits for 2020. Can you explain how that would work and what kind of cap savings we might see if we extended one or both?

The overall price goes up but the first year of an extension is usually the most palatable because the signing bonus (upfront cash) can be prorated over the course of the entire deal. The base salary is usually quite low. The big kickers don't typically come until the season or two after signing. Having a year left on those deals helps spread out that bonus even further.

Tom from Raleigh, NC

Probably answered before, but when a prominent player (e.g., Todd Gurley) is cut with a lot of guaranteed money due from former team (e.g., Rams), does the player just get to sign the best offer elsewhere and get his "Rams" money and the new teams contract money? Not suggesting Pack wants Gurley but just curious.

I don't think Gurley is due any more money from the Rams. They cut him before his contract became guaranteed for 2020. So he goes on the open market and gets whatever his next team is willing to pay for his services.

George from Sturgeon Bay, WI

Concerns have been expressed about Quintez Cephus' relatively slow time in the 40. Precise route running is an important part of being a quality NFL receiver and this raises the issue of the relative importance of running well executed patterns as compared with pure straight line speed. How important is this in evaluating a receiver? Are there specific metrics that reflect on the quality of the routes run or is the evaluation primarily subjective?

It's a good question. Sound fundamentals and route-running sometimes outweigh a so-so 40 time. How many of you even remember Anquan Boldin once ran a 4.71 at the combine in 2003? Boldin played above his straight-line speed. Cephus' 40 isn't ideal but everything else was impressive in Indy.

Ryan from Noblesville, IN

Any news on Jake Kumerow and Allen Lazard and where they stand on contracts?

The Packers tendered contracts to all five of their "exclusive rights" free agents, including Lazard and Kumerow. They'll both be back in 2020.

Nic from London, UK

Am I missing something about the value of picks? I thought giving up four picks for Khalil Mack was excessive because you have to replenish talent, but still, a proven superstar is a surer thing that a mid-first-round pick isn't it? So by extension, a proven upper-tier player is a surer thing that a mid-round pick. Seems like teams are letting known good players go for a chance at maybe a good player, but statistically probably not.

The picks weren't the only part of the equation with Mack, though. The Bears also had to make him the highest-paid pass-rusher in the NFL.

Wes from South Saint Paul, MN

Watching the QB signings it seems like $30 million per year is the going rate regardless of experience proven performance of elite status. Am I seeing this wrong? I would think guys like Wilson, AR and other elite QB's have to be thinking what the?

That's how it goes with quarterbacks. It's no different than when Joe Flacco was the first to hit $20 million per year in 2013. The elite QBs get paid, set the market and the next tier negotiates to that benchmark.

Mike from Niles, IL

I'll gladly take the other side of the bet Lucas from La Crosse proposed. Casey Hayward and Micah Hyde were two of the most inexcusable blunders TT made, which severely impacted the Pack for years. Blake Martinez is a solid ILB the team got his best years out of, but is not a difference-maker. His price exceeded his decent talents. Wish him the best.

Here's what I love about Mike the Soothsayer's take here. Five years ago, many fans said the same thing about Hayward after his interception-less 2015 campaign. They called him injury-prone and wished him well in San Diego. You can take issue with Thompson moving on from Hayward but don't misremember history. He wasn't the only one.

David from Cable, WI

We love symmetry. We want Tom and Bill to stay together retire together and walk hand in hand into the sunset together. The problem with that is there has been no indication that Bill wants to retire soon. Tom wants to go all in on winning another title in the next couple of years, while I think Bill wants to rebuild the Pats into a team that ideally he could hand off to one of his sons in five years or so. I think they both realized that their goals just weren't compatible anymore.

That's a great point. What we need is to get past the statements and press releases, and hear what both parties have to say about it. But you're right. What I learned this offseason is Belichick's showing no signs of stopping anytime soon.

Tony from River Falls, WI

What is your prediction for how Tom Brady fares in Tampa?

I think he'll do well. Bruce Arians is a savvy offensive mind with a vast amount of experience working with veteran QBs. He'll put Brady in a position to succeed. It's going to be fun to watch.

Jake from Kaukauna, WI

Love the stories by Cliff Christl on classic Packer players. I've learned so much about the Packers back then, but am I the only one who tries to fill in the bleeps and guess what they actually said?

I personally enjoy reading the words Cliff comes up with to describe what has been bleeped out.

Jim from Nederland, CO

I'm sure it's been mentioned before, but I am absolutely loving the Alumni Spotlight series. I don't want them to end. How long do you plan on running them?

I'm not sure the official timeline but we have a ton of them still coming. Wayne, Spoff and our video folks shot those before almost every home game during the regular season.

Keith from Lincoln, IL

You mentioned "Ohio State alumni." I thought it was "THEE Ohio State alumni?"

Our intern Ana went to Ohio State. If I wrote "THEE Ohio State," I assume I'd never hear the end of it.

David from Minneapolis, MN

Hey Wes, I'm an anesthesiologist on the front lines in Minneapolis and am preparing myself and my young family to eventually get infected with COVID (not a matter of if but when with high risk intubations). Please pass on my message to the II family. Stay Home! Please I cannot emphasize that enough. And if you happened to buy N95 masks, please donate them to local hospitals. We are already running low and having to find creative solutions to reduce our risk. Go Pack Go and stay safe (and home)!

Thank you, David, and all the best to you in the days and weeks ahead. One more day until the weekend. Talk to you guys tomorrow.

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