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Inbox: Nothing about this franchise has been sitting still

Turned out to be the former this time

Lambeau Field
Lambeau Field

Mike from Ames, IA

There have been a lot of wild days in the Packers' last 20 years. Where do you rank March 11, 2024, on the drama draft board?

I had to spend some time Tuesday truly processing all that went down Monday. I certainly don't recall two surefire Packers Hall of Famers (and one possible Canton contender) among the absolute best to play their positions for this franchise – third all-time leading rusher and second offensive tackle with five All-Pro selections – departing on the same day a feature running back and starting safety are plucked from the top of the free-agent market. I don't think I said "whew" until I actually crashed Tuesday night. The only conclusion I arrived at is it being an incredibly powerful reminder of how fast things can change in this league. Think about where this team was just four months ago, at 3-6 with questions galore. So much changed over the next two months, and now so much more in the last two. Nothing about this franchise has been sitting still. I'd say "serenity now" except that once the emotions are processed, there's so much to look forward to.

Kerry from Lakewood Ranch, FL

Two observations from Monday. The Packers are all in for a SB run and this is now Jordan Love's team.

It's also Brian Gutekunst's team, as Kenny Clark is now the only player acquired prior to his tenure as GM, which many readers pointed out.

Bruce from Travelers Rest, SC

It seems like Matt LaFleur only arrived yesterday, but ATMR (WCBW) only five players remain from the roster of his first season as head coach.

Also correct – Kenny, Preston, Ja, Elgton and Rashan.

Jeff from Vandenberg SFB, CA

Not gonna lie, I did a little fist pump when I saw that Keisean Nixon was returning to GB. Seems like the dominos are lining up pretty nicely so far.

I'm glad the Packers aren't letting him get away. He provides great value and a boost of energy in two phases of the game.

Dan from Richmond, VA

Thanks, as always, for your perspective and your attempts to be objective in the face of unexpected chaos and the overreactions of the fan base. Despite your best efforts, I remain stupefied. We didn't think a multi-talented, vital cog in our offense – not to mention an outstanding human being – was worth the $7 million it took to lure him away? And to an archrival, no less? "Mercy" indeed!

The more I try to analyze the situation, the more I wonder how many other factors came into play once negotiations got sticky. Such as, did Gutey not see a surefire feature back in this draft worth an early pick, or is he not interested in using a top 100 pick on a back amidst the other roster needs, so a 26-year-old rushing champ was an opportunity he didn't want to pass up when Jones was going to be here one more year max anyway? Just spiffballing a bit. In the end, with Jones' camp balking at Green Bay's number, it was going to take a larger investment one way or another for the Packers to have an upper-tier player in the backfield in 2024, and they became more comfortable making an even more sizable investment for the long term rather than a slightly bigger one for the short term.

George from Duluth, MN

Vikings be damned, I will applaud Aaron Jones when he returns to Lambeau. That said, what kinda crazy world is he stepping into? No QB, and AstroTurf everywhere.

I hope for Jones' sake his body holds up, because it was one thing or another last year, and he hurt himself again on the final play of the SF playoff game (it's on the film). I'm not entirely sure Jones would've been available had the Packers played the following week in Detroit. The Vikings have a collection of some of the most dynamic playmakers the NFC North has seen the last handful of years – Jefferson, Jones, Hockenson – with Darnold or a rookie QB most likely trying to get them the ball. I don't know how it's going to go, but it'll be interesting.

Bob from Oshkosh, WI

Hi Mike. Could the Packers have traded Aaron Jones, or can that only happen when the player wants out?

A team would've traded for him only if willing to accept the salary in his contract for 2024, which is what the Packers were trying to reduce, and the Vikings succeeded but with a bigger base and probably less tied to incentives.

Joe from Liberty Township, OH

What protections, if any, do teams have when they agree to terms with a free agent during the negotiation period? The Packers agree to a deal with Josh Jacobs and then they release Aaron Jones, who then gets a deal with the Vikings, but Jacobs isn't "in the bank" until he signs his contract two days later. What prevents another team offering more, or Jacobs changing his mind?

The agent's word and reputation matter if he wants to represent players and do business in this league for more than a minute. If he says a deal is done, it's gotta be done.

Arnie from Kirkwood, MO

Like everyone else, it certainly hurts to lose Aaron Jones…a wonderful person as well as a consummate teammate and player. But, now in a Vikings uniform, it's gonna hurt even more and I'm pretty sure he's gonna try to put the hurt on us as well.

Jones averaged 5.7 yards per carry on 149 rushes in 11 career games against the Vikings. 5.7! His long TD run to clinch the NFC North in 2019 at U.S. Bank Stadium in primetime might be my favorite play of Jones' career.

Ken from Boynton Beach, FL

I though the big back was coming from the draft. I did however feel we needed to get a veteran safety in free agency and McKinney is a good one.

When I asked Gutey in Indy about possibly needing a veteran safety for the transition to Hafley's defense, he downplayed experience as a requirement. I wondered at the time if he was just obfuscating his pursuit of a key free agent, or if he might actually go all young, like he did at receiver. Turned out to be the former this time.

Patrick from Florham Park, NJ

The LaFleur-era Packers have always prided themselves on having a dual-rushing attack. Even though we brought in Josh Jacobs, do you think we are likely to see another big running back acquisition either in free agency, or the draft?

I fully expect the Packers to draft a running back, maybe two to join Emanuel Wilson in the competition to supplement Jacobs. It's the ultimate young man's position.

James from Chicago, IL

Along with "that's the way it's always been," might the NFPLA like free agency ahead of the draft because teams may be more inclined to pay a premium to fill roster needs? Needs might be fewer, and/or less urgent if the free agency started after the draft? Thus, making teams less inclined fork over the big cash for those Day 1 free agents?

Several folks brought this up, and it makes sense, though if a team's draft doesn't go well, any needs after become severe and I think plenty of big dollars would still flow. Maybe not so much for the mid-level free agents, though.

Tom from Lisbon, WI

Given the sheer volume of deals that are reported in the first few hours of the "negotiating period," it seems a bit hard to believe that noon ET Monday was the first time that these teams and players were in contact with each other. Is there an explanation for why things can move that quickly? Or has the "tampering window" actually been open for a few weeks now?

Lots of discussions with agents occur at the combine in Indy. That gets the ball rolling and might as well be an official negotiating window, too.

Steve from Beaver Dam, WI

Question about the "legal tampering" period. I understand teams can negotiate with another team's player while they are still technically under contract but are they allowed to meet with them, perform a physical, etc.? It seems like an awful lot of money to be thrown around if teams aren't able to completely confirm a player's health first.

The contract is usually contingent on passing a physical first. If, when allowed to bring the player in, the team fails him on his physical, it can call off the deal.

Barry from Green Bay, WI

Now that AJ33 is a Viking and not coming back, I am curious if he had accepted the Packers' offer, would they have still signed Jacobs?

No. First, I don't see how Jacobs would come to a team where he wouldn't necessarily be the No. 1 back. Second, I don't believe it was ever in the Packers' plans to try to have both. When the negotiations with Jones hit an impasse, they explored their options.

Ethan from La Crosse, WI

Mike, I'm not out to change your mind, but I do see a curious contradiction between your belief that Bakh's injury cost the Packers a Super Bowl, and your belief that you can never truly be just "one player away." I'm not even asking you to resolve this seeming contradiction. Just wanted to share this observation, for whatever it's worth, to whoever, wherever.

That's brilliant false equivalency thinking. Congrats. The short version: Rodgers was sacked five times by the Buccaneers after being sacked 20 times in the entire regular season. The longer version: When you're one victory away from a Super Bowl appearance and one more from a title, pointing to the value of one player, and a key All-Pro player at that who has been instrumental in getting you to that point, and how his absence changes your team and its chances, is valid. It's entirely different than sitting in the offseason with 17 regular-season games plus an entire postseason in front of you in order to claim a crown and claiming you're "one player away" from winning it all. Apples and orangutans.

Take a look at photos of Packers RB Aaron Jones through his years in Green Bay.

Jim from Eau Claire, WI

Hello Mike. I have a question regarding the throwback logo used on Packer gear. It appears to be a wide receiver using a stiff arm. Was this patterned after an actual Packer player such as the NBA logo is Jerry West? I was thinking Boyd Dowler or Carroll Dale. Could it even be Don Hutson?

It's not patterned after anybody as far as I know. It's similar to the Heisman pose, obviously, which was modeled by New York University running back Ed Smith for the actual trophy. Smith actually played for the Packers in 1937 for Curly Lambeau, appearing in two games, but whether there's any connection to that and that Packers logo, which dates back to 1961, I have no idea.

Dan from Cross Plains, WI

Do rookie contracts differ by position? Or rather, would the amount paid be same to a QB drafted at spot 15 vs. another position?

The latter. Draft-pick contracts are slotted by pick number, regardless of position.

John from Livermore, CA

Looking at the opponents for the upcoming year, is there any matchup you are looking forward to seeing?

As far as the non-division home games, I'm excited to see C.J. Stroud and a rising Texans team. That should be a really intriguing matchup. As for the road games, I've already mentioned looking forward to my first visit to SoFi Stadium in LA.

Darryl from Amana, IA

In other news, were you surprised by the Bears about face concerning their new stadium? Shouldn't you do your homework before forking over $200 million on a site?

That Bears' stadium situation has been so unsettled for so long, just wake me up when it's over. I will be a little sad, though, if the Packers become the only team in the ol' black-n-blue division to have an outdoor stadium.

Jeff from Sioux Falls, SD

I understand your policy of not announcing roster moves, free agent signings, etc., until the team allows you to do so (by making the announcement themselves), but does it ever bother you that when you do write an article announcing it, you're usually 2-3 days behind the rest of the NFL world? I'm not talking about every internet troll who has an opinion, but respected journalists with major news outlets. No disrespect intended, I'm just curious how you feel about it.

It's not ideal, but it's the world we live in. As a trained journalist, I'd rather get the news out there right away, but I understand the organization's position on announcements being official.

Doug from Neenah, WI

Good morning, Mike. Over the last couple of days, the Packers have lost a lot of veteran leadership in De'Vondre Campbell, David Bakhtiari and Aaron Jones. Who's going to fill their cleats?

That locker room has plenty of leaders. It's part of the culture that's been established, so there will be no shortage. Love, Jenkins, Clark, Preston, Alexander, Gary … and plenty of young guys who can spread their wings a bit more.

Steve from Algoma, WI

Draft Industrial Complex was a new one on me, but is there such a thing as a Free Agent Orgy? Hallelujah! Where's the Tylenol?

Happy Wednesday.

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