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Inbox: Second-year jumps are vital to the future of every NFL team

Tom Brady is a gateway to NFL history, connecting generations of players

S Tariq Carpenter
S Tariq Carpenter

Johnny from Salt Lake City, UT

Wes, I can't take it anymore. When will you give us some breaking news regarding a certain Packers QB? Have you heard any chatter walking through the hallowed hallways of Lambeau? Can you just throw us a few crumbs please?

I'm sorry, Johnny. I have not heard anything on Danny Etling's whereabouts.

Damien from Manning, Australia

Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady had some great battles over the years, even as recently as Week 3. It truly feels like the end of an era. What has been your favorite Rodgers/Brady battle?

It's still 2014 for me. I know, I know…the Packers won, so obviously Hodkiewicz picked that game. But beyond the result, that's one of my top-five favorite games I've covered. It was two phenomenal teams with first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterbacks, brilliant coaching staffs and an unsung hero (a rookie Davante Adams) stepping up for his victorious team. New England didn't lose another game the rest of the season. Brady will be a legendary figure to future generations of NFL fans…just like Don Hutson, Curly Lambeau and Vince Lombardi were for so many of us. Tom Brady raised the bar to new heights, and we were lucky enough to witness it for 23 seasons.

Hal from Lanesboro, MN

Now that Tom Brady has retired "for good," does that assure Aaron's participation in the 2023 season? I mean I don't see him wanting to be in the same year of HOF eligibility as the "GOAT."

Aaron Rodgers is his own man. If Rodgers feels the time is right to move on, then that's what he'll do. If the fire still burns, then Rodgers will play. I don't think Brady retiring changes that one way or another. So, the most decorated player in NFL history gets to speak last in Canton? Big deal.

Mike from Franksville, WI

It blew my mind just now when I realized Reggie White was still playing when Tom Brady came into the league...

And Bruce Smith…and Troy Aikman…and Warren Moon…and Thurman Thomas…and Bruce Matthews, Michael Irvin, and Darrell Green. Brady is a gateway to NFL history, connecting generations of players. That's what hit me hardest after he announced his retirement Wednesday morning.

Dustin from Kansas City, MO

It's a real shame to hear about Brock Purdy having to have Tommy John surgery. What are the chances he's able to come back from this and get back to the player he was before the injury? I know MLB pitchers pull it off all the time, but off the top of my head, I can't think of any QBs who have had the surgery to know what they were like afterward.

UCL surgery is not nearly as common in the NFL as it is in MLB. Jake Delhomme is probably the best example of a QB who needed Tommy John. He tore the ligament in October 2007 but made a complete recovery. He was back for Week 1 and earned 2008 AP Comeback Player of the Year honors.

Dean from Ottawa, IL

One website has half the NFL teams over the cap. Is this unusual to have so many teams over the cap, and should it help the Packers in signing their free agents? Also, the Bears look like they are in a position to make some noise in free agency.

I know a lot of Packers fans think the cap constraints apply strictly to Green Bay but it's an issue for every competitive team in the NFL. That's a byproduct of the cap retracting after the 2020 season and teams pushing money down the road.

Aaron from Phoenix, AZ

Color me viridian, but I'm hyper-interested in seeing the Bo Melton story unfold in 2023. Melton's speed, rapport with Christian Watson, and being on GB's pre-draft radar provide fascinating potential. Should we see high WR-room turnover, he'll have opportunities on offense, and sounds like a tremendous slot prospect, should Randall Cobb not be brought back. And then there's punt returning duties. Assuming we re-sign Keisean Nixon, he could focus on KR and CB. Many ifs, but still quite intriguing.

I enjoy following these late-season signings and seeing the potential butterfly effect they have on the Packers. Both Robert Tonyan (2017) and Allen Lazard (2018) didn't sign with Green Bay until December during their respective rookie seasons. You can easily see why the Packers' brass likes Melton. He's savvy, incredibly fast and fills a potential need for the Packers, who don't have a traditional slot receiver on the roster aside from Cobb, who's set to be an unrestricted free agent.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

Wes, I love the stories on Devonte Wyatt and Bo Melton. Giving insight on Packer player mindset and development is so appreciated during the continuing AR12 beat down. Especially interesting was that Devonte reached out to Aaron in his attempt at bettering himself. That's taking personal responsibility and not always expecting others to make the first move. A lesson we all can learn from.

That's what being a rookie is all about. Those stories also are fun to write when things slow down this time of year. For example, I talked to Melton shortly after he signed with the Packers but there really wasn't a place to write about him while Green Bay is in the heat of a playoff push. Now that we've all had a chance to recombobulate, it's good to look at some young players who could contribute next season. I did the same thing with Lazard in 2019.

Nathan from Manitowoc, WI

Do you think that any of the seventh-rounders from last year (Rasheed Walker, Samori Toure, Jonathan Ford and Tariq Carpenter) will make a big jump next year?

Toure is in a great position after playing 112 offensive snaps in 11 games. He doesn't have the size of Watson or Romeo Doubs, but Toure just finds a way. Meanwhile, I think Carpenter got a head start on his Year 2 jump. The former Georgia Tech standout went from a healthy scratch early on to core special-teamer by the end of the season. Again, Carpenter reminds me a lot of Sean Richardson with his size, speed and tackling ability in space. Second-year jumps are vital to the future of every NFL team.

Samuel from Skokie, IL

If Rodgers isn't back next year, it will be odd to see the Packers as a "regular" team. For 30 years, it seemed they had the edge with a HOF QB running the offense. I am not saying Jordan Love won't be some day, but the feeling going into games will be different. Do you see it that way?

The Packers have had questions at the quarterback position before, including Rodgers' first year as a starter in 2008. While it's true no team in the NFL has been on a QB run quite like Green Bay, I don't view the post-Rodgers era to be the bottomless pit some fans and pundits make it out to be. It's a new chapter in a timeless story. Whenever that day comes, then we'll find out what's behind Door No. 3. Until then, my advice is to be present and let destiny reveal itself.

Ingrid from Superior, WI

Can the void years on contracts only be pushed out a limited number of years, unlike baseball that can be paying players well after they're retired?

That money already has been paid out. Void years are just a way to spread out past bonuses. No different than cutting a player, the dead money accelerates to the current year when a contract voids. That's when the credit card comes due, so to speak.

Aaron from Phoenix, AZ

Regarding how draft slot is dependent on playoff performance, I have to agree with the Spoff-meister. Often times, those lower-seeded teams that do make a deep run have galvanized heading into the playoffs, be it by reaching expectations, personnel additions, or improved health. It seems unfair to allow a team with its arrow pointing straight up to also receive higher picks than those that melted down. This may not always be true, but I prefer to hedge that way as hard as it is to win a SB.

Every offseason, there seems to be some buzz surrounding various rule changes, but this is not one of them. I wholeheartedly agree with Spoff. The longer a team plays, the later it should pick. Can you imagine if the Giants got to pick 23rd overall after winning the Super Bowl in 2011?

Ron from Mitchell, SD

Speaking of the season beginning, perhaps the scheduling gods will do us a favor and finally assign us a non-division home game to start the 2023 season. Perhaps that would help in some small way getting off to a good start. How long has it been since we opened the season at Lambeau?

Five years. Upon request, the Packers opened their 100th season against Chicago in 2018.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

I agree with Spoff that the defense looked better in September than it did in November. Health, wear, and tear were probably part of it, but also there were games where the offense just couldn't stay on the field. Complementary football sometimes is a non-descript, six-minute drive.

And there weren't enough of those drives when the Packers needed them this year.

Thomas from Cedar Rapids, IA

New Orleans got a haul for Sean Payton. Unfortunately for Payton, his new team is immediately short valuable picks, thereby delaying his rebuild. What are your thoughts on the league setting compensation for coaches similar to free agents? Do you think SF deserves a pick for losing DeMeco Ryans? Or us for Nathaniel Hackett, Luke Getsy, and this year with Jerry Gray? It seems teams almost make up a title so they can poach a guy and call it a promotion. Assistant head coach for defense?

Payton had a contract with the Saints, so that's the listed price if an NFL team wanted to hire him. I believe the 49ers are entitled to a compensatory pick for losing Ryan under the provision the league created two years ago to develop minority coaches and executives. Lastly, as Spoff discussed, Gray reportedly let his contract expire and was free to take a job elsewhere in the NFL.

The Green Bay Packers are proud to celebrate National Girls & Women in Sports Day on Feb. 1, 2023.

Dana from Eau Claire, WI

Great teams in the final four and final two – one of these teams will really deserve the trophy. Having not seen much of the Eagles, what is it that has made them so good and consistent this year?

Philly is deep everywhere with an MVP-caliber quarterback at the controls. Beyond just Jalen Hurts' heroics, the Eagles have a versatile, athletic offense and a defense that gets after it (69 sacks, 17 interceptions and 15 forced fumbles). Philly is a formidable challenger to Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City. Also, Howie Roseman should be in the conversation for NFL Executive of the Year for pulling off the A.J. Brown trade alone.

Fransua from Valrico, FL

Too early to talk draft yet? With GB's TE room up in the air: Luke Musgrave. The Oregon tight end looks to be the real deal. What are the chances of him being there at 15 or the Packers even taking him at 15?

That's too early to tell but I received The 33rd Team's Mock Draft 2.3 on Tuesday. They have Notre Dame's Michael Mayer going to Green Bay at No. 15 and Dalton Kincaid headed to Washington on the very next pick. Needless to say, it appears to be a good year for tight ends.

Iker from Ameca, Jalisco, Mexico

Good morning, guys. I know some people aren't fans of hypotheticals but it's the offseason so please play along. What happens when the Packers move on from "12" and Jordan Love wins a Super Bowl after "getting more weapons," will people just be happy for the Packers, or will they make excuses for not doing the same for "12"?

I'm not concerned with making a contrarian smile. If a Super Bowl title doesn't appease you, nothing will.

Tim from Olathe, KS

Wes, Vic used to educate us on the salary cap rules. One rule was that any unused cap space this year can be carried over to next year's cap. Do the Packers and other teams generally use 100% of the cap or do some have carryover?

There's always some carryover...even if it's just $300,000 like the LA Rams this past year. Most of the time, teams will carry over their excess cap room…though I do remember one exception a few years back when an NFL team chose not to roll its cap space over. I can't remember who, but the decision raised some eyebrows.

Bella from Kill Devil Hills, NC

Insiders, fun fact: The Packers ended the 2022 season with 790 wins making them the most prolific team in NFL history. Did you know in 2022 the Arizona Cardinals, the league's other still-active charter member, have recorded the most regular-season losses, 790? Cue the twilight zone music…Now!

Diving further into those numbers, Statmuse tells me the Packers have won 209 more games than the Cardinals. That is wild.

John from Jupiter, FL

Morning Wes. Are you aware of any other city greasing the light poles prior to a big sporting event as they do in Philly? I know they've done it before, but it seems rather unique. Thanks.

As a befuddled store clerk once said to Llewelyn Moss, "No sir, it's unusual."

TK from Grafton, WI

Super Bowl with predetermined, neutral sites? No problem. But to consider moving future PLAYOFF games to neutral sites? Big problem! Transparent cash grab much? So, in that spirit, I propose this: Take all the teams that did not make the playoffs and hold an auction. The two highest-bidding teams (one from each conference) are granted a wild-card game. Money, money, money, baby!

OK, I laughed.

Darrin from Sparta, WI

Mike, the thrill of getting published in Inbox is real, and it's spectacular!

Insider Inbox…where dreams do come true. Spoff has some business to attend to, so you'll get another dose of me on Friday. Talk to y'all tomorrow.

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