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Inbox: Now the rest begins falling into place

The Packers have made their forays into free agency count

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LB Preston Smith

Craig from Appleton, WI

I have seen the argument on the interwebs that if you divided Tom Brady's career in half and evaluated each 11 years separately he has the stats to make the Hall of Fame for each half of his career. Do you feel the same argument can be made for Aaron Rodgers career?

I do. If Rodgers plays two more years, that will put his first two NFL MVP awards in that first half to go along with the Super Bowl XLV victory and Super Bowl MVP. Since 2014, he's won the MVP two more times and been voted to six of his team-record 10 Pro Bowls. He's a first-ballot Hall of Famer whichever way you slice it. With Rodgers back for Year 18, now the rest begins falling into place.

Ben from Pensacola, FL

I hear people clamoring for a good RB3 in the draft or FA, or maybe a returner. People quickly forget about Kylin Hill. I thought the couple games before his injury in Arizona he started to look comfortable with those duties. I'm curious about his healing progress (though I assume neither of you may actually have any updates on him). And I also don't know how the injury affects his willingness on kick returns.

I was sold on Hill during the offseason program. He's an explosive jump-cutter. You see why Matt LaFleur wanted to give him opportunities not only on special teams but also offense before his injury. You're right. I don't know how Hill's recovery is going, but hopefully he can pick up where he left off as a rookie. Because it was a promising start.

Paul from Ledgeview, WI

Which positions groups for the Packers compare favorably to the rest of the NFL? Would any be considered the best?

I'd say the Packers were in the conversation for having the best QB room and secondary in the NFL last season. That could be again if Rasul Douglas is back. When at full strength, the receiving corps also was much better than it gets credit for.

Dan from Tallahassee, FL

Good morning. Longtime reader, first time asking a question. Will David Bakhtiari be ready for training camp? We really need him healthy for the upcoming season. Can you tell us about his health?

It sounds like Bakhtiari should be good to go for 2022, according to Brian Gutekunst. A full offseason and training camp should help Bakhtiari get back to his All-Pro form. Andrew Whitworth just called it a career at 40. I'm excited to see what's still out there for the 30-year-old Bakhtiari.

Matt from Wading River, NY

Congratulations to Lucas Patrick. He definitely deserves the contract. Hope he enjoys losing at least twice a year now!

Patrick goes down as one of the Packers' greatest undrafted success stories. Because he wasn't just undrafted – he was unsigned. This guy had zero NFL contract offers coming out of Duke. Then, he goes to Green Bay's rookie minicamp on a tryout and doesn't sign. A few weeks later, the Packers call him back and Patrick slowly claws his way up from the practice squad to the starting lineup over the next five years. He's a bulldog and the ultimate grinder. Lucas Patrick is what the game of football is all about. I'm going to miss him…dearly…but what an incredible opportunity for him to continue his unlikely NFL story.

Cliff from Alexandria, VA

Wes, this is the first year I can remember where free agency is around the corner and all the chatter is about re-signing our own free agents as opposed to splurging on players that other teams cut. Have you noticed the same thing, or is it just that you and Mike are mercifully sparing us from all the questions about improbable signings/trades?

This year, maybe more than ever, most fans realize the constraints the Packers are working under in regard to the cap. Any money that is left over should be directed towards taking care of their own. If there's another De'Vondre Campbell or Dennis Kelly out there like last year, then maybe you explore those avenues this summer. Until then, the emphasis should be obvious.

James from Ottawa, Canada

As free agency frenzy is set to begin, I'd like to humbly put forward the annual PSA: retaining our own free agents is just as important (if not more so) as signing free agents from other teams; our guys count, too! Case in point: Davante Adams, De'Vondre Campbell, Preston Smith, Allen Lazard – all guys who are viewed as premium free agents NFL-wide. It's a good feeling when the offseason can already be categorized as a rousing success before FA has even technically begun!

Every team wants to be in a position where its No. 1 objective in the offseason is to retain its own talent. The two times in the 21st Century that the Packers were most active in free agency (2006 and 2019) came after losing seasons that resulted in significant organization changes. This is a tough spot to be in right now, but make no mistake, it's where NFL teams want to be.

Matty from Durango, CO

Our New Zealand relatives couldn't tell Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers apart. We told them that Aaron is just like Brett but without the interceptions.

Thirty years. Three. Zero. Thirty years of not having to worry about who the Packers' quarterback is on Sept. 1.

Randy from Sheboygan, WI

Hi Wes, call me greedy, but I don't understand the formula the NFL uses for compensatory draft picks. We lose an All-Pro center in his prime and we get a fourth-round pick. Are third-round picks only for multiple Pro Bowl players? Corey signed a record contract at the time, so it can't be dollars.

Evidently, there is a formula to determine comp picks but it's mostly based on average-per-year salary. Linsley's contract was significant for a center, but there were other UFAs who broke the bank in 2021. A handful of teams also received third-round comp picks for having a minority coach or executive leave for a head-coaching or GM position.

Mark from Pitt Meadows, Canada

Za'Darius is going back to the Ravens. I am sad to lose him but happy for him and very happy he didn't sign in the NFC North or NFC at all! He is scary good and I really enjoyed watching him on and off the field! After a full season without Z, we held up very well in pass rush but is there a player that you think could rotate in or replace in case of injury on our roster? Or will it be a draft pick, sign Whitney Mercilus, or free agency? Look into that crystal ball and Go Pack Go.

The Packers return Jonathan Garvin and Tipa Galeai, but I think they probably need to add someone through either the draft or free agency. I mentioned Whitney Mercilus because I thought he'd be affordable to bring back. Mercilus will be 32 in July and has been vocal about his desire to play for a championship. I thought he showed there was plenty left in the tank in his brief time in Green Bay last season.

Chip from Sacramento, CA

I've been following since the early Ask Vic days. You guys do good work. Just wondering if Russ Ball is available to do my taxes.

The best I can do is Spoff.

Randy from Clarksville, TN

Hey guys. Based on the draft order numbers from yesterday, could you break down why we are not picking every 32 picks after our first pick? I understand compensatory picks change this, but what about the other rounds? I'm very confused. Thanks.

A popular inquiry. The Packers are alternating with Tampa. While Green Bay was the No. 1 seed, the Packers and Bucs were both 13-4 and were eliminated in the NFC Divisional round. So, Tampa is picking ahead of Green Bay in the first, third, fifth and seventh rounds, and the Packers in the second and fourth. Both teams traded their sixth-rounders.

CJ from Cedar Rapids , IA

When you're looking at ratings for the upcoming draft, which publications do you trust most? CBS Sports, Walter Football or some other.

CBS Sports and ESPN are my go-tos. I also was a huge fan of Nolan Nawrocki's work before he was hired by the Raiders.

Julian from Gastonia, NC

Is it too early to determine approximately what it would cost GB to use the fifth-year option on Jordan Love? If it's not too early to make a good estimate, can you share about what the contract might look like for that fifth-year option?

The fifth-year option for QBs who don't meet playtime or award criterion this year was $19.6 million.

Gary from Sheboygan, WI

Insiders, a simple guesstimate, and won't hold you to it. How many free agents, not our own, will the Packers sign this year?

Two.

Jeff from New Richmond, WI

We keep forgetting about Santana Dotson, Gilbert Brown and Sean Jones that played alongside Reggie White. They were all free-agent signings. In 1996, that defense only allowed 19 touchdowns. Andre Rison was an awesome one and done signing as well.

Rison was a popular answer here, too. While they haven't been the most active NFL team in March, the Packers have made their forays into free agency count over the years.

Take a look at photos of Green Bay Packers LB Preston Smith through the years

Mary from Pewaukee, WI

Are the Packers' uniforms made of different material for hot summer games vs. below-zero games?

Nope. That's where the turtlenecks come in.

Mike from Niles, IL

I continue seeing comments from Packers fans (and others) about how much they dislike the commentary of Troy Aikman, Joe Buck, and others. They never bother or annoy me. The reason is simple. I watch most NFL games at sports bars, where I can watch two or three games at once, with no sound. I don't need anybody to explain what's happening. The action is all on the screen. The Pack's long-ago announcer, Ray Scott, was a gem. He said little, but what he did say was always informative.

Commentating is one of the most difficult jobs in sports journalism. Those who do it professionally have my undying respect. It was weird listening to broadcasts the past two years after hearing only the in-game analysis of Mike Spofford and Pete Dougherty for the past decade.

Steve from Plover, WI

Football, at its core, is an entertainment business. You gotta keep the fans happy. If there are two pending free agents that are very closely (though not necessarily evenly) matched and a team can't keep them both, does one player being more of a fan favorite weigh into the decision-making process at all?

No. If there's two comparable free agents, a team will look at the age of each player and their perceived value to the team. If that's a wash, then maybe it shifts to who's the better locker-room guy but external popularity isn't a part of that process. You'd be better off just doing a coin toss.

Paul from Gorham, ME

Good morning, may I nominate Baker from Alabama as having the "Hometown of the Year?" Choccolocco. The world is a beautiful place

Maybe I missed it but I think that's the first submission I've answered from Choccolocco, AL. I hope it isn't the last.

Mike from Stevens Point, WI

Hello Wes, I'd like to point you (ahem) towards Point Root Beer! Have you tried it? This award-winning root beer has been made at the Point Brewery since Prohibition! I've had clients and friends never leave town without taking some home!

Point is great. Their black cherry soda is my favorite.

Robert from Harris, MN

Wes, I'm sorry to say with the passing of my grandmother you will never get to taste the very best root beer. She brewed her own. As she used to say, "Strong enough to give you a nosebleed." I recall as a child jumping at the sound of the random bottle exploding in the basement. It is truly our memories that make us rich, and although none of us is getting out of here alive, they also remind us that some of us are darn lucky to have made it this far.

I'm sorry for your loss, Robert. My Uncle Kevin makes a pretty mean sarsaparilla, too. Maybe that's where it started for me?

Marty from Galena, IL

Weston, swing down to Galena sometime. We have a store on Main St. dedicated to root beer! Across the street is a small little bistro, Embe's, which is known for its bread pudding. To round out your trip, you can stop in Platteville and learn all about Spoff! Might be some spicy nuggets there too! GPG

Marty, I've been there. For real. I went with my future wife 11 years ago. Honest to goodness, I bought a "keg" of root beer from that place for my bachelor party. However, I haven't crossed 'The Spofford Museum' in Platteville off my bucket list yet.

Doug from Neenah, WI

Good morning. Yesterday's Inbox talked about the great unknowns in the draft room and the salary cap room. Both are fascinating mysteries we'd all like to witness in-person. But wouldn't the biggest mystery in Packerland be how do Mike and Wes operate the Insider Inbox every day?

I could tell you what it might look like, but let's welcome in Scott from Grovetown to paint the full picture.

Scott from Grovetown, GA

Greetings. It's almost the end of the day, Biff sits in front of his computer...the old paycheck-earning computer. He lets out a deep sigh and thinks, "It's time to do II." With much hesitation and exhaustion, he goes to work. As he finishes, Biff smiles with pride, closes down shop, and heads for the exit. I know this feeling all too well as my day ends with taking my eighth graders down to connections, returning to my classroom, and sitting down with the same type of sigh before I begin grading work.

And now you know…the rest of the story.

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