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Inbox: Perhaps a good deal can be had

There’s a lot more to it than that

Packers GM Brian Gutekunst
Packers GM Brian Gutekunst

Nathan from Laramie, WY

Dear Mike, we now see how clandestine meetings in crowded elevators are cleverly whitewashed by unspoken Inbox rules. Mr. Ball escapes interrogation via the No Numbers Clause. Oh, the intrigue! The offseason plot thickens and we read it here first. Or something like that. All off the record, on the QT and very hush-hush. Thank you, both, for bringing the humor and wit that brightens our offseason malaise.

Anything for an L.A. Confidential reference. Nicely done.

Jim from De Pere, WI

Good morning, Mike. When you are working at the combine do you have a favorite activity or function that you look forward to each year?

Honestly, I just love walking around downtown Indy and checking places out. It's a great city and I enjoy visiting there, even for just a couple days.

Tracy from Sioux Falls, SD

Stouts or IPAs?

Ambers, nut browns and cream ales.

Greg from Marquette, MI

I saw today that over $100M has been saved by teams cutting vet safeties and $64M for vet corners. The article states the market is softening in price for them as teams are beginning to save cap space on their secondaries. I love the Pack draft and develop, but I feel we could see Gutey make a move in FA to bolster this position this year.

It's a good year to be in the market for a safety because perhaps a good deal can be had.

Kevin from Pewaukee, WI

Teams can begin negotiations with free agents Monday, March 11, at noon ET, and players can officially be signed by new teams on March 13 at 4 p.m. ET with the start of the new league year. Although, I am seeing reports of players signing contracts with teams. Not agreeing to terms, but signing. How does this work?

Players who are cut/released are free to sign with anybody at any time. Only players whose contracts have expired must wait until the start of the new league year to sign.

Paul from Ledgeview, WI

Mike, it has been my understanding that while the Packers may have players targeted for selection, the Packers do not lock in on "a guy" (guys) during the draft, but instead have a number of options on their board, and adjust as the draft plays out. Do you have a sense of how specific their approach is, or how broad?

My rudimentary understanding is the board is like a matrix (or maybe spreadsheet is more accurate) with the players ranked vertically, best at the top on down, and spread out horizontally by position. Then once players are selected, names are removed. So if the board has just one or two names sitting above all others, it's getting weak; time to pick one/trade up if someone's a prime target. Or if there's a wide berth of best available at various positions, the board is strong and trades back can be explored. There's a lot more to it than that, but as far as I know, that's the gist.

Justin from Los Angeles, CA

I just learned this is the first time the Rams will pick in the first round since 2016. Before McVay was even coach! I suppose winning a Super Bowl in that stretch excuses a lot, but can you imagine the Inbox and general fanbase consternation if the Packers went SEVEN YEARS without a first-round pick?

And that lone Super Bowl the Rams won was thanks to 49ers safety Jaquiski Tartt dropping an easy INT from Stafford that hit him right in the breadbasket with San Francisco up three points midway through the fourth quarter of the NFC title game. Oh, and the other Super Bowl they went to with McVay was thanks to one of the most egregious (considering the circumstances) missed DPI calls of all time in New Orleans. Yes, the Rams have two NFC championships and one Lombardi in the last six years, but they got huge breaks at pivotal times or their approach would've been all for naught. No one will ever convince me how LA went about it is a good way of doing business in this crazy league.

Jim from Eau Claire, WI

Top of the morning to you, Mike. You manage the salary cap or the salary cap will manage you. Never have truer words been spoken.

Just ask the Buffalo Bills. Mercy, that was a bloodletting this week.

Tom from Fort Myers, FL

Regarding Lynn Dickey games to watch, I think the Washington 1983 game is the best. I'll never forget it.

Indeed, and others mentioned it as well. Just to clarify, the original question asked for Dickey games other than the '83 season, so that's why I didn't bring it up.

Richard from Canton, GA

Funny you should mention the 1982 season opener versus the Rams. That was the first game I watched as a kid in the UK, and the reason I am a Packer fan. It opened the door, did some reading and loved the history and uniqueness of the team. What is your earliest Packer memory?

Sometime in the late '70s watching James Lofton run fly patterns. I started tuning in just to see him go deep. John Dorsey once told me Lofton was hands down the best all-around athlete ever to play receiver in Green Bay.

Greg from Chicago, IL

In regards to your response from Brian from Chesapeake around Lynn Dickey performances, I, as a high school senior, was in attendance at the '82 Cardinal playoff (strike-shortened season, as I recall) game. I was one of many who rushed the field postgame. I realize it's not a great move but, wow, it was a real-life memory. I lost my wallet out of my blaze orange hunting pants jumping in and it was returned to me a few days later. Every Lambeau trip is a treasure.

Because of course a Packers fan would return it, right? Your note has reminded me of one (admittedly minor) downside of the proliferation of the secondary ticket market. I used to love it when the Packers played at home on the opening weekend of gun-deer season, because seeing blaze orange scattered all over Lambeau was a real treat from the press box view. There's still some, but not nearly as much as there used to be.

Joe from Hampshire, IL

Howdy Mike, Gutey and Green Bay are known to play their cards close to the vest, which I appreciate. That seems in contrast with agents who often put "news" out there when their FA client speaks to a team, aiming to increase interest and salary for the player. Does Gutey somehow let agents know that being discrete may improve their client's odds of actually signing with the Packers?

I don't know if I'd put it that way, but agents know how the Packers like to do business – quietly and behind the scenes. The team appreciates reciprocation.

Travis from Fort Walton Beach, FL

Good morning Spoff! Perhaps I'm overthinking it, but I imagine the Packers will have trouble assessing players like Nixon, who are amazing ST players but might be devalued significantly (or valued higher) depending on how the NFL owners vote on the rules. Could Wilson or Ford also be in a similar predicament? If the game is changing, then the scheme changes, which might drive BG to find different skillsets, right?

I stand by what I said right after the season ended, that of all the Packers' pending free agents, Nixon is at the top of my list to re-sign for his special-teams prowess and experience at nickel to create legit competition at that spot. And you're right, a change in the kickoff rules could boost his value.

Joe from Dartford, UK

When teams look at addressing roster needs, do you believe they place importance on the strengths of divisional rivals, knowing they face each of them twice a year, or is it almost entirely more general in that they look at prior season performance, who is still on the roster, and what or who they need to be more roundly competitive? Interested in whether a roster is built partly around the aim to win at least six games in the division.

I don't think perception of division rivals influences the process much, if at all. Too much change, too many variables, both within a season and from year to year, to overemphasize six of 17 games in roster building.

Clem from La Crosse, WI

Good morning. I've been wondering about the thought process/strategy behind keeping a player on the 53 all season (Caleb Jones) and not playing him versus keeping him on the practice squad. Is this a common practice?

If you don't want to risk losing the player to another team, it is. Practice-squad players are free agents and can sign with another team's 53-man active roster at any time.

Bruce from Jackson, WI

Mike, with Bakh's injury history I was disappointed the Packers didn't address the OL earlier last year. With the possibility of losing much of our depth in FA this year, I hope they prioritize protecting Love with our first or second pick in the draft. Assuming we extend his contract in the coming months we need to keep him upright and on the field. Notwithstanding our secondary needs, how do you see it?

If the Packers lose David Bakhtiari, Jon Runyan and Yosh Nijman and replenish through the draft, I don't see the depth up front being a major concern. Guys like Caleb Jones and Luke Tenuta haven't played but are still developing. Gutey has repeatedly said he wants competition, which was a big factor in the unit’s success last year. The Packers have five picks in the first three rounds and let's just say I'll be floored if at least one of those selections isn't an offensive lineman.

Donna from New Auburn, WI

Looking so forward to the 2024 season. We know the teams we play, but when can we expect the schedule – dates and times?

After the draft, sometime around mid-May.

Phil from Paris, IL

Mike, I would add the Barber brothers to the list of all-time great siblings. Other than that I think you nailed it! Maybe the Marks brothers of Miami back in the day, although they weren't really brothers!

Ah yes, Clayton and Duper. Quite the pair. I thought about the Barbers and should've included them. Ronde is in the HOF but I didn't realize until looking further that Tiki was a semifinalist last year in the selection process.

Jason from Austin, TX

Now that last season is over and we can look at this with a little bit of hindsight, was the one-year extension better, worse or the same as just having Love play the fifth-year option?

I think it worked out better for both sides. The Packers mitigated their risk (as well as helped out their cap picture) if they were going to need more than one season to make a definitive decision on Love's future, and the signing bonus that went with the extension put a big chunk of money in Love's pocket much sooner than he otherwise would've earned it.

Andy from Lancaster, PA

Hey guys, which version of JLove are we most expecting to see next season? Obviously he went on a tear over the last 8-10 games (before the divisional round playoff game) but is that actually his baseline now? Or will there be some regression to the mean that he displayed the first half of last year? Are there concerns his floor is still somewhere in those first eight games?

I think calling 21 TDs vs. one INT the new baseline is a tad unrealistic, but his low points were when the youth around him on offense was struggling as well. As long as the surrounding cast doesn't revert to that, there's reason to believe in a much higher floor moving forward.

Jacob from Holmen, WI

Last early March, who would have thought the tape would exist of Jordan Love hitting Dontayvion Wicks, in the face of a seven-man blitz, for a deep post TD on the way to a rout of Dallas, on the road, in the playoffs. If you Mike, or any Packers fan, needs to brighten their day, run this play on a loop for three minutes and if you don't have goosebumps, check your pulse. Which other play can we use from last year to drive home the trust-the-process Packers style before the 2024 draft?

Quay Walker's pick-six at Chicago and Jayden Reeds rookie highlight reel.

Bob from Windsor, WI

Are you excited about the draft? Has Detroit hosted the draft before?

I've got plenty of vacation time still coming before the draft, so I'm pacing myself. Detroit as host will be a first. Since the league pulled the draft out of New York in 2015, only one city has hosted twice – Chicago ('15 and '16).

Ed from Windsor, CO

I hope you get to announce a pick when the Packers host the draft. Who will be the Packers' first pick in 2025?

Maybe Mark Murphy will snatch the mic from Roger and announce his successor. Break the news on the big stage!

Kirt from Dubuque, IA

Wait, are you from Dubuque?

No, but I was born at Finley Hospital. Family legend has it my dad set the land speed record crossing the mighty Mississip' that day.

Hayden from Batavia, IL

My brother and I attended UW-Platteville in the early '80s and I was bummed when Pickle Barrel Subs closed. Didn't know there was another one! Watching Bears training camp (I was an athlete at UW-P) wasn't as fun as Packers training camp, but between Pickle Barrel and Poncho Steinberg's we never left hungry.

Ah, Poncho Steinberg's. Another P-ville institution of my youth. I had no idea how rare a Mexi-deli actually was until I moved away. I figured every town had one.

Doug from Neenah, WI

Good morning, Mike. A "cooper" is a craftsman who makes barrels. Plenty of mocksters have the Packers drafting some combinations of Cooper DeJean at 25, Edgerrin Cooper at 41 and Cooper Beebe at 58. With three Coopers in the first three selections, would that constitute a barrelful?

And with that my first week is through. Happy Friday, and have a great weekend, everybody.

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