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Inbox: Preparation produces the best decisions

The whole process has to play out first

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Packers GM Brian Gutekunst

Clay from Council Bluffs, IA

Has anyone checked in on our friend Vic? These contracts and draft picks that are being traded for WRs can't be good for his heart.

I'm sure the breakfast patrons at his favorite Edisto Island establishment have been hearing all about wide receiver fever, baby.

John from Harvest, AL

17 being the highest-paid WR for less than a week, that's crazy.

It's also the nature of the business.

Don from Cedar Rapids, IA

If receivers are a dime a dozen, do you think we might wanna buy a dozen?

Receiver obviously became a more glaring need now that MVS is headed to KC. That's a boatload of money for a guy whose career highs are 38-690-6, and I certainly didn't expect Green Bay to pay that. The Packers are definitely in the market for both veteran receivers and rookie draft picks. I'm curious now if the move for a veteran will come before the draft, or after when teams decide who feels expendable.

Brian from Twain Harte, CA

How much did the acquisition of Oakland's first- and second-round picks increase the amount of money the Packers must reserve under the cap to sign their draft picks?

A couple million, maybe a touch more. I see Twain Harte is about 130 miles from Oakland so it must be hard to let go.

Adam from Madison, WI

We have to remember that Adams wanted to play for the Raiders so the choice was more likely what they got or a disgruntled/upset player on a record-setting deal. The Packers got a haul considering they were negotiating with one team.

Exactly.

Jessi from Sterling, KS

I hope it's okay that even after all your math breakdown in the Inbox...I still don't get it! I'm super glad that you do, and you can assure me that Davante wasn't stolen from us. Because my heart still is broken, and says it's not enough. Sigh. That being said, what year was it where Aaron Rodgers spread the ball up to 13 receivers? It may look different, more creative, but it could actually be in our favor not knowing who the No. 1 is Week 1. Agree or?

I'm not here to say the Packers are better off offensively without Adams. That's just not reasonable when a player of his caliber leaves. It's not a coincidence the last time Adams wasn't a huge focal point of the offense was 2015, when he played hurt or missed games due to injury. Five players (including Adams) caught more than 40 passes each that season, but that wasn't a great offense. It was also under the prior regime. The bottom line for LaFleur & Co. is this: All the attention Adams commanded will now get directed toward others, which puts the onus on them, the coaches, the quarterback, everyone to adjust and find ways to succeed. I believe the Packers can do that with the offensive line and running backs they have while Rodgers and the passing game adapt to their new reality over the course of a long season. There's no point in getting into specifics at this point, when the first game is almost six months away and the last game more than nine. It'll be a while before we know how this offense is going to function best.

David from Janesville, WI

Insiders, last year there was some anticipated "help is on the way" with the expected return of David Bakhtiari, Z and Jaire Alexander. Unfortunately it wasn't able to really get off the ground with the Packers being eliminated by the 49ers so early. This year we'll see help returning more so for the offense, including Bakh (again), Elgton Jenkins, Robert Tonyan and Kylin Hill. Only Bakhtiari is expected at the start of the season. Do you think it is easier to bring defensive players into the fold midseason or offensive players?

I don't think it's a question of offense or defense. To me, it's more a function of the player's level of experience, knowledge of the system(s), familiarity with teammates, and the like.

Mike from St. Louis Park, MN

Have we lost any free agents yet that would net a comp pick next year? Will we?

So far, the Packers have lost Lucas Patrick, EQ St. Brown and Oren Burks while signing Pat O'Donnell and Jarran Reed, and it's hard to say right now if/where any of those contracts will end up in the compensatory equation either way. The whole process has to play out first.

Travis from Fort Walton Beach, FL

Spoff, do you think the Packers would have re-signed Lucas Patrick if Adams were traded prior to getting franchise tagged? I'm curious if he was considered a cap casualty, or if he's looking for an opportunity where he's more likely to be a first starter instead of backup? Or perhaps he was a casualty of the special teams rework … either way, more than appreciate him stepping in all across the front line.

Patrick will be missed as a teammate, and for his toughness and versatility. I congratulate him on his new contract and wish him the best. But I think he was just a victim of the numbers game. The Packers have five interior offensive line draft picks from the last two years on the current roster who don't cost anywhere near what Patrick deservedly got from the Bears.

Craig from Cortland, NY

Hey, Mike. Your response to Larry from NV got me to thinking. Do teams have to publicly disclose which prospects they host for visits or meet with virtually pre-draft? Do they get to keep that information "in house" so as not to give the rest of the league hints into what their draft strategy may be? Are you and Wes sworn to secrecy if you cross paths with a prospect during their visit or are you confined to your cubicles?

Because there's a limit on pre-draft player visits, they are reported to and tracked by the league. Centralizing the information also helps to coordinate the prospects' travel schedules. When I worked on the third floor (where the coaching and personnel offices are), every once in a great while I'd run into a prospect in the elevator while he was being shown around, but I value my job and career more than one tiny nugget of information.

Steve from Ankeny, IA

I was watching the 2019 draft with my 23-year-old son, who is a true draft fanatic. When the Pack announced Rashan Gary as their No. 1 pick, my son nearly hit his head on the ceiling jumping in excitement. I turned to Google to find out who Rashan Gary was (it turns out that he definitely knew what he was doing). My question is, how fun/exciting is Day 1 of the draft to attend in person? I am considering taking him if you think it is actually worth the trip?

I've never actually been to the draft. Almost no media member who covers a specific team has. Drafts are covered locally, because that's where the press conferences with team officials and conference calls with the team's draft picks take place.

Mark from Dayton, OH

In light of COVID, the 2022 draft is rumored to have more talent and depth than previous years. With the extra draft picks from the Adams trade is it time for quantity in the first two rounds instead of trading up? What say the draft pundits?

It always depends on what a team's board looks like in the moment, and no two teams' boards ever look the same.

Kevin from Indianapolis, IN

Good morning! Looking at the draft capital the Packers own this year paired with our special-teams woes, do you anticipate late-round picks specifically targeting players with an eye towards special teams?

Perhaps, but the Packers don't have a sixth-round pick, and the fifth round feels a little early to start cherry-picking in that regard. But with the three sevenths I could see it.

Jason from Austin, TX

Insiders, do you know if Gute and his team do a mock draft? They must do a mock draft to know who might be available, right? I wonder if they do side competitions as to who got the most right. Whoever gets the most right gets a signed rookie jersey of whoever is drafted first.

I don't know about any competitions, but they definitely do mock drafts in the week or two prior to prepare for scenarios that might come up – what are the moves if these guys are available or these are gone, that sort of thing. No GM can ever be prepared for everything in an event as unpredictable as the draft, but the more scenarios they work through in advance, the calmer they'll be when they're "on the clock." Preparation produces the best decisions.

Jim from Arkdale, WI

Hello II. I never was aware the docs failed Favre. More info, please.

Apparently Favre had a hip condition that raised questions as to his potential longevity as a player, which brought into consideration failing him on his physical because the Packers were giving up a first-round pick to acquire him. Wolf signed off on the medical risk. All rather ironic considering he set a record for consecutive games played that may never be broken.

Tom from Burlington, WI

Good morning Insiders, there has been substantial talk about groundbreaking and/or league-altering deals this offseason, like many offseasons. However, I've still yet to see a contract based on a percentage of the salary cap. With the 2021 decrease being really an anomaly and the cap back on track, have you heard of any players making an actual push for this?

Not yet, though I wouldn't totally rule it out somewhere down the line. The NFL never had fully guaranteed multi-year mega contracts until Kirk Cousins got one a few years ago and now Deshaun Watson has an even bigger one.

Chuck from Santa Ana, CA

With a number of new WRs and the shifting of the OL, I would expect the "starting" offense, including 12, to have to play a fair amount in the preseason games. Do you foresee this as well?

No.

Josh from Newhall, CA

I'm excited to see the progression from T.J. Slaton. If I remember correctly, the evaluation of him at the draft was basically as one of those big guys with outstanding athleticism for his size. There were moments during the season where you could see the potential of what that physical ability can translate into. What did you think of his progression through the season? Did he seem to be consistently improving?

I thought so. Slaton began carrying a larger workload toward the end of the season, and his level of impact rose. It was hopefully a small taste of what's to come.

Patrick from Valrico, FL

Up to this point, even with the salary cap restrictions, it was still possible to see three or four guys on one team be the highest paid for their position for a short time at least. Now we have quarterbacks making nearly 100K per pass, pass rushers making over 100K a sack and wide receivers making over 150K per catch. It seems untenable. What will the league do to offset the inevitable decline in overall team performance, or is the concern just not there as long as all teams are equally bad?

I don't know what you mean by "bad." These are all superb athletes who have risen to a level very difficult to achieve. There are no superteams in the NFL. The league has a highly competitive, entertaining product through which parity helps keep the TV ratings sky-high for 18 weeks in the regular season. Every other sports league wishes it could command so much attention from start to finish.

Mike from Charlotte, NC

The Raiders have four draft picks this year and the Dolphins now have five draft picks. Both start in the third round with No. 86 and No. 102 respectively. Both the Packers and the Chiefs will have picked four players before the Raiders pick one, and five before the Dolphins pick one. The Chiefs will then pick two more before the Dolphins pick their second! Can we say WR fever?!

There's no ignoring the contexts surrounding the teams that make such major sacrifices in the draft for players they hope will help them immediately change their current fortunes. The Raiders haven't won a playoff game since the 2002 season, and the Dolphins haven't won one since 2000.

David from Oak Hills, CA

With all the blockbuster free agency moves and trade deals being made this offseason another big change was also made. ESPN forked out big cash to bring over both Aikman and Buck from FOX. This shows the popularity of the game when announcers are now making major signings as well in the offseason. Where do you think Aikman and Buck will rank in history when it comes to announcers and do they have what it takes to revive the magic of MNF games of yesteryear?

I have no interest in ranking announcers, but ESPN had to do something to restore the cachet of the MNF broadcast, which had dwindled considerably over the years. Will this do it? I don't know. I'll probably be watching the Mannings more anyway. Regardless, I hope this decision by ESPN puts an end to the three-announcer football booth (and March Madness can take a lesson, too). Commentary has much more rhythm and chemistry when it's a two-person conversation. A sideline reporter should be the third contributor, not the fourth. Just my two cents.

Bil from Stateline, NV

Rest well, young Wes. For upon your return, the clambering masses will be awaiting your next submission with bated breath.

Wes is back tomorrow to take you into the weekend and then through most of next week at the owners' meetings in Florida. I'll be stepping away for one last short break to use up some vacation days before I lose them. Be good. Happy Friday.

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