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Inbox: That door is always open

Nobody wants to see the kickoff go extinct, especially the Packers

RB Josh Jacobs
RB Josh Jacobs

Eva from Forest Grove, OR

What do you love the most about the Packers?

A fanbase that cares enough about this team to make a daily Q&A worthwhile.

Kathryn from Greenville, WI

What is the biggest gap the Packers will try to fill at the 2024 NFL Draft?

Taking a good football team and making it extraordinary.

Avida from Vienna, VA

Do you think we're in store for any roster additions prior to the draft or do you think it'll be quiet until after the draft from a free-agency standpoint? Thank you.

Free agency is never over with Brian Gutekunst at the controls. He signed De'Vondre Campbell during the final week of the 2020 offseason program and inked Dennis Kelly to a contract the day before training camp in 2021. You can't always predict when a deal goes down, but player acquisition knows no deadlines. That door is always open.

John from Livermore, CA

It's been an interesting offseason so far. What do you think is the most impactful free-agent signing this year?

That's a toss-up between Xavier McKinney and Josh Jacobs. Talent aside, those acquisitions send a clear message to the locker room that this team is ready to compete for a championship in 2024. So, instead of belaboring the obvious, I want to make mention of perhaps Green Bay's most underrated signing this offseason: Corey Ballentine. I felt it was imperative the Packers kept the sixth-year cornerback after playing major minutes for the Packers last year. The re-signing of Ballentine not only provides secondary depth but also a reliable veteran on special teams. Tom Silverstein said it best on Twitter after Ballentine's re-signing was announced: "These aren't 'splash' signings but guys like this make your team better." It's true.

TK from Metaphorical Garden, WI

Is it appropriate to shout "Booyah!" after a recent article states Xavier McKinney is the most influential FA signing in the entire NFC North division? (I'm asking for forgiveness rather than permission.)

Here you shall receive both. Listen, safety was arguably Green Bay's biggest need two weeks ago. The Packers filled it with one of the game's best and brightest stars at the position.

Emma from Draper, UT

Please help explain how some of the more talented players are being dealt for what I feel is very low compensation. In my opinion, Buffalo gained a player they needed in its secondary for a relatively low price to get Rasul Douglas. I think the same is true with the Titans getting Sneed for what amounts to a third-round pick after swapping spots in the seventh round. Isn't that a great price to pay for a player of Sneed's ability and talent?

Those are two extremely different situations. Sneed's price is lower because Tennessee has to work a long-term deal with him, likely making Sneed one of the NFL's highest-paid cornerbacks. So, the Titans not only need the draft capital to execute the trade but also the cap space to orchestrate a deal. As far as Douglas is concerned, I still think the trade benefitted both teams. Douglas played very well for the Bills, but Green Bay's defense also played better in the second half of the year because of opportunities that were afforded to Ballentine, Carrington Valentine and others. Also, the Packers' season was on the brink at the trade deadline. Gutekunst did the best with the available information and now has five picks in the top 100 at his disposal next month.

Bill from Wilmington, DE

Eric Wilson…yeah baby! That is all.

Wilson is a good locker-room guy, an experienced veteran linebacker, and the Packers' leading tackler on special teams the past two seasons. Like Ballentine, it seemed inevitable Wilson would be back in Green Bay for a third year.

Dar from Mansfield, TX

Wes, you noted the proposed kickoff change felt slightly "gimmicky." As a former ticket holder to the XFL/UFL's Renegades, I can tell you I also had doubts until I saw the revised kickoff in-person. While the alignment seems strange at first glance, a moment after the returner catches the ball the play looks nearly the same, with blockers and returner engaged in nearly identical places. In short, it behaves like a good old-fashioned kickoff at that point, one I think Keisean Nixon will enjoy.

Listening to Gutekunst and others on Monday, I can tell the kickoff is a real conundrum for NFL teams. Nobody wants to see the play go extinct, especially the Packers. Watching Nixon return kickoffs has been one of the most exciting parts of Packers football the past two years. The challenge is maintaining the spirit of the kickoff return without diminishing the game. This version of the kickoff may be an acquired taste, but I'm willing to sample it. We'll see what owners decide.

Craig from Laramie, WY

Probably has already been addressed but what are the implications of the new kickoff rule with regard to onside kicks?

You can only attempt an onside kick in the fourth quarter, and you have to declare it beforehand. In theory, you're trading some spontaneity to make the overall play a bit more exciting.

Christopher from St. Louis, MO

Gutey mentioning last draft that after a certain point in the draft it didn't make sense to draft an OL prospect because they wouldn't most likely make the team with all the returning vets. Really loved that insight. So which position groups do you see unlikely for the Pack to draft after the second round? My opinion would be WR, DT, TE, and maybe boundary CB.

It would be receiver for me. I understand injuries can chip away at depth in a heartbeat, but Malik Heath was a healthy scratch for a handful of games late in the season. In other years, Heath probably would've played a dozen offensive snaps a game. In addition to what he provides as a receiver, Heath has developed into a solid special-teamer, as well. So, to answer your question, I think the competition the Packers covet is already there at wideout.

Chase from Carmichael, CA

Regarding the schedule, the final three weeks should all be divisional games. The other three matchups should be sprinkled throughout Weeks 5-13 with a minimum three games between rematches. Divisions should also have byes together. Maybe consider wrapping up the first set of divisional matchups before the trade deadline. That's all from a competitive fairness and maximum end-of-season drama perspective.

NFL schedule generation remains one of the game's great mysteries. One of the cool things about my New York trip for Tom Grossi's Fan of the Year reveal was getting to see the Valjean A. Pinchbeck, Jr. Room, the iconic place where the NFL organizes the scheduling matrix every year. It's small, cozy and filled with history.

Gerald from Santa Fe, NM

Thanks for your work! I've been reading about "Relative athletic score" with respect to draft choice options. I understand the concept intuitively, but would you please help me understand how that is calculated?

I don't know the exact formula, but this is a rough outline of how RAS numbers are determined (and thank you to Andy Herman for helping me flesh this out): If a player is 6-6 and he's in the 99th% of height at his position, he gets a 9.9 for height. If he did a 6.41 in the three-cone and that's the best ever at the position, he'd get a 10.0 for that event. Once all the individual scores are determined, then they are averaged together for an overall grade. The idea is to calculate the overall percentage of athlete they are at the position. If you're a 9.5 RAS theoretically, you're in the 95th percentile of athlete at the position. There's a lot of nuances to this, but that's the overall gist of it.

Paul from Nevada City, CA

Howdy, the hip-drop rule is just another example of the NFL promoting its own financial interests. Defenders can't touch the QB and now can't tackle the ball-carrier. This used to be a physical game; is it now merely becoming touch football? If so, it will quickly fade for me as a fan much like MLB in the '80s and NBA in in the '90s given the fundamental change in the game made! I'm all for player protection, but will this totally splendid American endeavor simply become a charade?

I had to laugh when Rich McKay said it's only the "swivel" hip-drop tackle that will be outlawed, not every hip-drop tackle. Like officials are gonna be able to police that penalty effectively in a fraction of a second. Whether the play gets flagged or not, it still doesn't feel right taking money away from players for playing with instinct, not malice. This game is filled with grey area. I feel like we've now splattered more onto an already unclear canvas.

Philip from Frederick, MD

Please excuse my ignorance but I just can't visualize this hip-drop tackle thing. Can you describe what it is? Thanks a lot. GPG.

It's like when you're trying to walk around the house and your kid is clinging to your leg. Now, just amp up the speed 20 miles per hour.

Tom from Fort Myers, FL

With the extra importance of division games, my preference would be to avoid scheduling them between teams where one has had a bye week the previous week and the other team has played on Monday. Keeping the off days of each team equal before a division game would be a good goal. Beginning or end of season I do not care. I agree with Wes, the same opponent two out of the last three weeks has to go.

It's not even about "fairness." I just think it's just boring to have teams play twice in three weeks. It would be great to level the playing field for division games, but if there's a rhyme or reason to when bye weeks are scheduled, I've yet to discover it.

Travis from Green Bay, WI

Thankfully, Nixon is back with Pack. I was wondering if Lafleur still has plans to use him as a gadget player on offense, too?

Matt LaFleur will be addressing the media in Orlando this morning before this column posts. Maybe we'll try to squeak that question in there. Nixon's carry against New Orleans netted an 11-yard gain last September. To me, that's worthy of another touch or two.

Kevin from Jenison, MI

There's been a fair amount of talk about the linebacker position, both in re-signings and possibilities in the draft. I haven't heard much about Brenton Cox Jr. It seems there's some physical gifts there. Do you see him as more of a 4-3 defensive end or a linebacker?

Cox will play defensive end in this defense and has a huge opportunity in front of him after Kingsley Enagbare tore his ACL in Dallas. Here's what Gutekunst had to say about Brenton Cox in Orlando: "He's shown through college and even last year in his brief time with us that he can rush the passer. He's got a lot of physical traits we're looking for, so I think he'll be ready for his opportunity when it comes."

John from Salt Lake City, UT

Hi Wes! My wife Kathleen and I are expecting our first child this fall (right around Week 3). In preparation, we were handed down "Green Bay Packers: My First Alphabet Book." On the "R is for running back" page, there is a picture of a certain player wearing No. 88. How do I explain this numerical oddity to my future child?

Tell them, "Your father lived during interesting times."

Ed from Minneapolis, MN

Hey Wes, you mentioned the owners meeting. I was wondering if it's ever intimidating to be in an elevator, or be in proximity, with someone like Mr. Kraft, or Mr. Jones?

The answer to that is typically no, but I turtled up after seeing Tony Khan at the general meeting on Sunday night. As a lifelong pro-wrestling fan, I kind of marked out there for a minute.

George from North Mankato, MN

Good morning, Inbox. I just read that the league will allow a third challenge as long as a coach is successful with one of their two initial challenges. Seems like a pretty significant change for the better in my opinion. It should allow for coaches to gamble a little more on what to take a second look at. Does a single game or decision not to challenge stick out from recent memory where this rule would have been a game-changer?

Not off the top of my head, but I was still in favor of the change. Personally, I thought it was weird how a coach could get his second challenge correct and then be out of challenges the rest of the game. Let 'em have a third try if one of the previous two were correct. Why not?

Rod from Mount Calvary, WI

Just wondering if and when Prospect Primers will be available this year.

We'll have Prospect Primers again this year. I know this because I voiced four of them before I left for Orlando. They'll start next Monday.

Caleb from Knoxville, TN

If you could hop in the DeLorean and watch any NFL championship run in person, Packers or otherwise, which would you pick?

Call it recency bias but the Packers' 2010 season was special. It's not every year an NFL team sneaks into the playoffs as the sixth seed, wins three in a row on the road and captures the game's biggest prize.

Dan from Hayward, WI

Wes, sorry to see the Badgers women's hockey team just miss the national championship, but Wisconsin does have a national championship in women's hockey. UW-River Falls women's hockey team won the Division III National Championship a couple weeks ago. They were 31-0.

Let's go Falcons! Congrats!

Jeff from Omaha, NE

Wes, it must be such a blessing to do what you love for work, making work less like work and more like doing what you are passionate about every day. If you didn't do what you do, what do you think you would do?

I probably would've been a history professor or a butcher (Sorry, Kim Ippolito). I worked at Maplewood Meats in high school and deeply respect those men and women for what they do.

Dan from Tallahassee, FL

Good morning, Wes. I'll tell you what. If my wish ever gets granted, I'll send in a submission from the International Space Station. Then you can feel out-of-this-worldly.

You got a deal!

Michael from Baraboo, WI

How's your bracket doing?

Not great, but I still have seven of my picks for the Elite Eight picks…so I have that going for me.

Dennis from De Pere, WI

Good morning, Wes. As I understand it, your prowess as a "Shower Performer" has less to do with your singing ability and more with your ability to toss a salad. Like Kramer on "Seinfeld." ;) What say you?

I prepared it as I bathed. Have a great Tuesday.

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