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Inbox: So, what now?

This schedule is shaping up to be a doozy

RB Aaron Jones

Art from Fredericksburg, VA

I'm not sure why you answered a question this way, especially reporting for the Packers. Why did you say no way, not a chance, they don't have a chance to win the SB?

It was such a contrary take, I know. So out of character. It's almost as though you'd have to wonder whether I was being serious or sarcastic.

Markus from Aurora, CO

Insiders, it appears excitement is in the air, with personnel changes and some uncertainty about the salary cap and all the implications. What aspect has you most intrigued?

There are two. How exactly the Packers are going to get under the cap by next Wednesday, and what their offensive backfield will look like in Week 1.

Tyler from Billings, MT

Good morning Mike! I'm sure you have a lot of this question, but what are the chances Aaron Jones gets a second contract with the Packers now that the tag deadline has passed? He sure will be missed if he doesn't stay.

The Packers did not use their franchise tag on Jones (or anybody else) for the 11th straight year. So, what now? Unless Jones is super close to a new deal with the Packers and the news somehow hasn't leaked, he's probably going to find out what his market looks like next Monday-Tuesday during the open negotiating period. Then, retaining him will come down to whether or not an 11th-hour agreement can be reached before, or as, the free agency bell rings next Wednesday afternoon.

Perry from Ishpeming, MI

You guys say time and again what a great fit Aaron Jones is for ML's system, so in the four years of watching him do you guys think he'd fit into any system? Meaning is some team going to pay him top dollar even though he may not be the type of back for their system?

I think any team that has seen how the Packers have utilized Jones over the past two years and have a need for his multi-faceted skill set would shell out top dollar for him, yes. He would be a great asset in many offenses, but not a perfect fit for some. If teams want a workhorse/pounder like Derrick Henry, I doubt Aaron Jones is their guy. If they want another Alvin Kamara type, he's an attractive option.

Neal from Fort Worth, TX

Good morning Mike! With over half the teams struggling with cap issues, this should be one of the more interesting offseasons since the cap was introduced. My question is, if a team places the franchise tag on a player, is his salary applied to the cap at the start of the new league year or is the cap hit delayed until he signs the tag? Thanks for all you and Wes do to educate us.

The cap room for the tag salary must be available beginning March 17, whether or not the player has signed the tender.

Packers LS Hunter Bradley celebrates his birthday on May 21. Take a look at photos of him from the 2020 season.

Jeff from Vandenberg AFB, CA

Mike, I saw Lavonte David signed a two-year, $25M deal with the Bucs with three voidable years so that his cap hit in 2021 is only $3.5M. Can you help me better understand this concept? Would his cap hit next year then be $21.5M if the last three years are voided?

No. We'll see what the actual details are on the deal, but I'm going to estimate numbers to try to explain what the Bucs did to ease their immediate cap crunch and still keep David. At two years and $25M ($20M guaranteed) with three voidable years as reported, the deal could be structured with a $12.5M signing bonus, $1M salary in 2021, and $6.5M guaranteed salary (plus $5M in incentives) in 2022. With the signing bonus prorated over the full five years, his cap charge for this year is $3.5M ($2.5M bonus proration plus $1M salary). Next year, the cap charge could range from $9M (2.5 plus 6.5) to $14M (2.5 plus 11.5) depending on the incentives. In the third year, if the rest of the contract is voided by him signing another deal, or if he's released or retires, the remaining three years of bonus proration ($7.5M) would have to count against the cap as dead money. The dead money could be split into the third and fourth years if a June 1 designation is used. Again, I'm guessing on the numbers and structure, but hope that helps.

Blake from Charlotte, NC

Dak Prescott's new contract reportedly came with "no franchise/transition tag" clause attached. I don't remember hearing this with any other contracts before. Was this a first? Also, are there repercussions tied to Dallas being in breach of that? Thanks for any clarity you can provide!

I'm not sure if Prescott is the first to have a no-tag clause, but I could see it becoming more common. There's really no way for Dallas to be in breach of it. After he plays the last game on the deal, his contract would still be in force in the offseason until the start of the new league year, and the deadline for a team to apply the franchise tag is before that date. He's guaranteeing himself a shot at free agency at the end of this new deal if he wants it.

Dwight from Brooklyn, NY

One of the fun things for me reading II is seeing the international addresses of Packers fans, some from places I never imagined there would be any. What was the address that caused you to do a "Woah!"?

I remember one day a while ago seeing submissions from both Slovenia and Slovakia on the same day. I was taken aback a bit, though in this forum you can never be certain someone's stated location is legit, such as …

Pharoah from Giza, Egypt

Good morning Insiders! One possibility that seems to be getting overlooked is the Packers taking a RB at the end of round one. That way we can let Aaron Jones walk, and still have a dynamic backfield at a smaller cost. Every one of our losses last year came when we couldn't establish our running attack consistently. A tandem of, say, AJ Dillon and Najee Harris would be very hard to stop.

I don't disagree entirely, but with the Packers' long-term needs in the trenches and at other premier positions like cornerback, using a first-round pick on a running back would be a highly suspect move in my book. It's a lot easier to find a productive running back in the middle rounds than a big guy or cover man who can become a mainstay.

Ryan from Sun Prairie, WI

Who do I have to talk to about applying for the job of turning off the coaches' mic to the green-dot player? I think I am qualified.

I'm gonna find a way to get that gig when I retire so I can still get paid to enter an NFL stadium every fall Sunday.

Mike from Green Bay, WI

Longtime reader, first thanks to both of you for your insight and humor. I listened to Joe Barry and was intrigued by his candid answers from questions from reporters. He didn't really divulge any concepts he will install. What are your initial thoughts and can you offer any insight regarding scheme that will be different than his predecessor?

If he's going to focus on what the Rams ran under Brandon Staley, the coordinator Barry worked for last year, that scheme keeps both safeties back more often, which subsequently can change how tight ends and slot receivers are accounted for, as well as some concepts up in the box.

Michael from Alameda, CA

Hey Mike, you said you missed the food in San Francisco, but the Pack will be going there again this year. Since the 49ers stadium is much closer to San Jose than San Francisco, I was wondering which city you stay in during the road trip.

Since the opening of the stadium in Santa Clara, we've usually flown into San Jose and stayed somewhere near the airport, I think. After 15 years, a lot of road trips run together, and I admittedly don't always pay attention to exactly where we are.

Michelle from Ringgold, GA

Who do you think will be the toughest matchup for the Packers in the upcoming season?

Focusing outside NFC North for the moment, that's a really tough one to answer, because all five of the Packers' non-division home games next year are against 2020 playoff teams (Browns, Rams, Steelers, Seahawks, Washington) as are two road games (Ravens, Saints) with a third (Cardinals) against a team very much on the verge. Then if the Chiefs become the 17th game, as rumored, there's another big showdown. The QB situations could change the outlook for Washington and New Orleans, but still, this schedule is shaping up to be a doozy.

Mark from Homewood, AL

Mike, the first rule about Inbox is you don't talk about Inbox.

I know. I broke it. My bad. I'm giving myself a two-week ban. Starting next Monday.

Sawyer from Simpsonville, SC

In answer to Col from Ludlow, the other reason to go on defense first is, if you can get a stop, especially quickly, and then drive the field and score points, that is a big tone-setter. And to piggyback on Mike's answer, it's a lot easier to turn or continue momentum with a score out of the half than at the start of the game.

I concur.

Dan from Twin Lakes, WI

In reply to Col from Ludlow, UK, re: deferring the choice when winning the opening coin toss. I've found it easiest for friends and family to understand it when I put it like this: The goal, of course, is the "double dip" (score going into halftime, and score again coming out of the half). If you defer, you may (or may not) get a shot at it. But if you take the ball to open the game, you sacrifice even the chance, while giving that chance over to your opponent.

I continue to concur.

Scott from Hamlin, NY

In response to Col from Ludlow, UK, I went ahead and analyzed games from the last 10 years to determine what impact, if any, receiving the second-half kickoff had on the outcome of games. I was surprised to find out that the conclusion of my analysis is that I spend way too much time on meaningless things.

Still, that's probably better than spending way too little time on meaningful things.

Packers RB AJ Dillon celebrates his birthday on May 2. Take a look at photos of him from his rookie season.

Scott from Wausau, WI

Mike, I've been in favor of a "sky judge" since replay was advanced enough to do it. My take is that the sky judge, or maybe multiple sky judges, are added to the officiating crew and have the right to flag any play they deem worthy at any time. The "whistle" would be discussed among the on-field refs just like any other call. They would also automatically review every play in real time. I believe it would actually speed up play with fewer "red flag" replay reviews.

Initial implementation would have its hiccups, with plenty to smooth out regarding timing, parameters, etc. But over time, I totally agree with your last point and it would improve the game in multiple ways.

Dar from Mansfield, TX

You previously mentioned that medical checks are/were perhaps the most important part of the combine for many teams. Is it possible we'll see players with medical questions slide much further down the draft order this year, given that no team doctors can clear said players and GMs might be hesitant to risk an early pick? Could we see some great talent slip into the mid-to-late rounds?

Entirely possible.

Geoffrey from Rosemount, MN

This may have been asked/answered already, but in case it hasn't: What will determine which teams get nine home games?

It would alternate annually by conference. One year, every NFC team gets a ninth home game. The next year, it switches to the AFC.

Donald from Fayetteville, NC

Hi II, I know some level of this would be speculation, but do you remember what the reported thinking was around the Bears selecting Mitch over Mahomes and Watson? I don't remember it being widely panned in the media or anything, though that could be wrong. What was the public perception and what was the insider perception back then?

There was no widely held consensus on who was the best QB in that draft, and many analysts did have Trubisky as the top guy, despite only 13 college starts. Where the real head-scratching came in was the Bears trading up from the third pick to the second to make sure they'd get Trubisky, which greatly increased the draft capital they spent for him while simultaneously declaring they would not have been satisfied with "settling" for either Watson or Mahomes.

Vince from Flagstaff, AZ

I never realized that tax rates are applicable to the city/state that games are played in for the visiting team. Any idea how checks from games played in London are taxed?

No, but I'd love to find out some day.

Sue from Tomah, WI

Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike: Do you know what day this is? TODAY! May you all have a good one.

Happy Hump Day, or Wednesday, whichever you prefer.