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Inbox: That guy can do it all

Aaron Jones has been proving everyone wrong his entire life

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G Elgton Jenkins

Jeff from Germantown, WI

Re: Rich from Vail, CO and how it takes the new center time to learn how to earn the free play. If Elgton Jenkins steps in at center, expect that to take no time at all. When Corey Linsley got hurt mid-game vs. Bears, Jenkins stepped in to play center and it was only a handful of snaps (if memory serves) before he snapped the ball when a D-lineman jumped into the neutral zone and earned a free play. I texted my buddy Brett, "That's the backup center doing that." Jenkins is amazing!

Jenkins is the next man up practically everywhere on the offensive line. With David Bakhtiari working his way back from the ACL, Jenkins could just as easily plug in at left tackle, too. Jenkins was a Pro Bowl guard last season whose play didn't diminish at either center or the tackle positions. That guy can do it all. The only question is where?

Nick from Gresham, WI

Given the outgoing words from Jamaal Williams and Linsley's wife, Tramon Williams' first-class personality, and a couple of these fair and win/win deals we have seen the players and front office work out, this week has been a great reminder of the great work the Packers do keeping good people in the organization and it sometimes goes over looked so I appreciate how you guys highlight these things. Thanks much!

The Packers lost some good dudes over the past few days but that's the business of football. It's up to Brian Gutekunst and his personnel department to find the next promising draft class here in a little more than a month from now. There are holes to fill, on the field and in the locker room.

Avid from Vienna, VA

With Aaron Jones re-signed, can you refresh us on how he ended up falling to the fifth round in the first place? From your recollection, was it an injury, poor performance at the combine, playing for a non-powerhouse conference or school, etc.? And on another note, an underrated and hopefully not under-appreciated move when Brian Gutekunst was hired was the ability to retain Russ Ball who also interviewed for the GM position. He's been a cap wizard orchestrating his magic.

If you know Jones' story, he's been proving everyone wrong his entire life. Coming out of UTEP, scouts had questions about the level of competition Jones faced and if he could be a durable, every-down back. In the end, the NFL's loss was the Packers' gain.

Reed from York, PA

Seeing the cost of Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith, could we be overlooking the value of Big Bob, Jace Sternberger and Josiah Deguara being UDFA/third-rounders with potential to be a serious matchup nightmare when they're all healthy this year?

Tight ends are X-factors in today's NFL with the proliferation of sub-package defenses and that's why LaFleur wanted them to be such a big part of the offense he brought to Green Bay. The sky is limit for Robert Tonyan and the young tight ends. As for New England, it's been strange watching that offense operate without a dominant tight end on the field the past few years. That's been such a staple of the Patriots for so many years.

Andrew from Placentia, CA

Hi Wes, you've mentioned finding someone who can return kicks in the draft. I couldn't help but think that shifty player could also be an intriguing weapon for LaFleur to use on offense, such as Tyler Ervin and Tavon Austin. Luckily, there seem to be a lot of those players in the draft, and they won't cost you an early pick. I like Dwayne Eskridge, Tutu Atwell, Dyami Brown, Marquez Stephenson, Demetric Felton, Javian Hawkins...I particularly like the ones who can line up anywhere from RB to WR.

With how important that jet-sweep back has turned out to be in the offense, I think it would be worthwhile to find a RB/WR/KR who could wear multiple hats on offense and special teams…even if it comes on Day 3.

Take a look at photos of Green Bay Packers S Vernon Scott from his rookie season.

Dale from Lima, NY

Of the Packers' original 14 unrestricted free agents, so far one (Jones) has resigned and two (Linsley and Williams) have found new homes. Of the remaining 11, which, if any, do you think will find new homes this season? And which, if any, will ultimately re-sign with the Packers?

Marcedes Lewis returning for a fourth season in Green Bay makes all the sense in the world to me, especially after listening to Brian Gutekunst talk about Marcedes and his value to the team two weeks ago. Beyond that, with Montravius Adams reportedly headed to New England, I'm curious to see what happens with Kevin King and what his market will be. He's still only 25 and there aren't many 6-3 corners out there.

Dale from Lima, NY

Meaning no disrespect, but with first Jamaal Williams and now Tim Boyle moving to Detroit, is it appropriate to say the Lions are building a Packers-Lite team?

Taking a page out of the Vikings' old playbook. Bold strategy, Cotton.

Sawyer from Simpsonville, SC

Hod, it's finally Friday. Two thoughts to end the week: 1) We might as well call that Michigan team the Detroit Packers now. 2) With all this inside linebacker talk, what in the H-E-double hockey sticks happened to Oren Burks in the conversation?

Burks finished the season with the outside linebackers. He can still move inside, I suppose, but outside is where the Packers lined Burks up during the second half of last year.

Pete from Stoke, UK

I see Tim Boyle has gone to Detroit. If AR suffered an injury (God forbid), what would your level of confidence be in Jordan Love being able to step up?

That's a tough to answer without having seen Love even in a preseason game, but the Packers wouldn't have pressed on without Boyle if they didn't have confidence in Love. He has the arm and the pedigree. All he needs now are the snaps and he'll get more of them in that No. 2 role.

Joe from Ashburn, VA

What should we look forward to in the draft this year?

The draft not taking place in Roger Goodell's basement anymore?

Tyson from Green Bay, WI

Hey, hope you're having a nice day. Not sure if this has come up recently, but if the Packers had the No. 1 pick in the draft, who do you think we should pick? That is to say, who is the best prospect for the Packers?

Penei Sewell or Ja'Marr Chase probably gives Green Bay the most bang for its buck. Unless, of course, the Packers want to trade the top pick (Trevor Lawrence) for three firsts and David Putney. I mean, who could argue with that?

Terry from Sun Prairie, WI

What has been the biggest surprise in free agency so far?

The Saints re-signing Jameis Winston, tagging Marcus Williams and still getting under the salary cap.

George from North Mankato, MN

Good morning Wes. Has there ever been a player that you thought the Packers should have signed in free agency no matter what? With all the talk of character, etc... this intrigues me.

I know I'm thumbing the Lament Configuration here, but my answer is Jared Cook. The moment the Rams cut him in 2015, I felt he was a tight end the Packers need to sign. He was a good fit for Mike McCarthy's system as a Jermichael Finley-like tight end. The cherry on top was Cook didn't count towards the compensatory equation. It was the perfect arrangement for both sides.

John from New Richmond, WI

With prospects' athletic testing presumably "juiced up" by relying solely on pro day numbers without the NFL combine, how do the Packers evaluate guys like Georgia CB Eric Stokes, who recently ran in the 4.2s at his pro day? Do they "trust the tape" more this year than ever before?

I know the lights shine brightest on the combine but you gotta remember the Packers attend dozens upon dozens of pro days each year to get a feel for the hundreds of players who didn't get an invite to Indy. So it's really nothing too out of the ordinary. The medicals remain the biggest thing.

Malcolm from Fennimore, WI

It seems these QB restructures are confusing fans. When a player converts his roster/salary to signing bonus (Patrick Mahomes) or signs a one-year extension (Tom Brady) all it does is spreads signing bonus money out over a max of the next five years. Lowering the cap hit this year and raising future ones. IT IS NOT A PAY CUT!

It's like a pile of dirt sitting in front of a two-door garage. You can push it over to clear room for the car to get in, but it doesn't eliminate the problem.

Joe from Appleton, WI

Sorry for another cap question. Tom Brady is under contract for two more years in Tampa, but Spotrac has him listed for cap hits of $24 million in 2023 and $8 million in each of 2024 and 2025. If Brady plays the next two years and then decides to retire, does that money come off the books?

It's the same drill as if Brady were released – only his signing bonus and any guaranteed money for 2022 would count against the cap. The rest goes vamoose.

Statham from Pineview, GA

Anyone who kept up with the cap situation can never mention the "we never go all-in" statement again. We just pushed all the chips to the middle of the table for 2021. Barring some massive extensions, we are in cap hell for the 2022 season. Here's to Super Bowl LVI!

The 2022 cap situation isn't that bad. The Packers are going to have a lot of flexibility with several key veterans entering the final year of their contracts, making them prime candidates for an extension with the new TV contracts ready to take hold. And I think this offseason has proven anything is possible when it comes to managing the salary cap. This isn't trying to solve a Rubik's cube in 60 seconds. The Packers have been working at this for months. They know what lies ahead and are planning accordingly.

David from Appleton, WI

In 2020, the Jaguars were cap heavy and forced to jettison contracts. In 2021, the Jaguars have the healthiest cap and in position to make free agent moves unlike most teams. If Green Bay doesn't make any free agent moves in 2021, keeping its current contracts, what will their cap situation be in 2022 and beyond?

You would expect a team coming off back-to-back NFC title games to have some big contracts since Green Bay has a dozen Pro Bowl-caliber players. Jacksonville, meanwhile, needs to break its cycle. Teams can spend all the money they want but it's not worth a hill of beans if they don't win.

Packers, Bellin Health and Brown County opened a COVID-19 vaccination site at Lambeau Field on Wednesday, Mar. 17, 2021.

Robert from Burke, VA

Sean from Boulder nailed it. Born and raised in Milwaukee in the 60s and 70s, I'm a lifelong fan/owner. My dad played for Halas and da Bears in the 30s, so it got ugly at times...Anyway, character is very important to me as well, and I was also ready to walk away in the Forrest Gregg era. It felt like Bart Starr was finally "getting it." Let me tell you, Lynn Dickey passing to James Lofton was the most purely beautiful thing in football.

I always tread lightly here because this is Cliff's area, but the Starr Era fascinates me. The tragedy is Starr really was a good offensive mind. The Packers posted some eye-popping numbers in the early 80s. But the defense couldn't stop anyone and years of miscues in the draft proved too much to overcome. Starr touched a lot of lives outside of football but it saddens me he never coached again after the Packers let him go in 1983. He was only 49 at the time. I still feel like he could've given much more to the game.

Steven from Birchington, England

Which position is deepest in the upcoming draft?

It's going to be another good year for receivers, which now makes me wonder if that's what led to the slow start to free agency.

Shannon from Ovilla, TX

Wes, there are still a lot of free agent receivers available. Do you think our GM is just Brian time to sign one for cheap? Is he waiting to extend Davante Adams contract until he is in a lurch for cap space? Where is the line for the door?

It feels like everyone is waiting for Kenny Golladay to sign and then the dam might finally break. I still think drafting a receiver would be a more pragmatic way to improve the room than free agency. The Packers already have four veterans in Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Allen Lazard and the returning Devin Funchess at the position.

Keith from Dearborn, MI

Wes, your ice bucket challenge on YouTube is golden.

And six years later, it's still the only video I've posted to YouTube.

Gary from Hayward, WI

Back atcha, Wes. Be honest, how proud of yourself were you for your "Now that's punny" response the other day?

If I close the column with it, then you know I was pretty dang proud of it. Make it a great Friday, folks.

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