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Inbox: That's not too shabby

It has to be a first, or very rare

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S Darnell Savage

Richard from Menasha, WI

Is it too early to get my hopes up that we will be able to watch training camp at Nitschke Field this year?

Didn't you hear? The Packers are going to hold a training camp practice at every college football stadium in the state of Wisconsin this summer. April Fools. OK, got that out of the way.

James from Waynesboro, VA

Good morning Mike! I read an article (by Rob Demovsky) that focused on our cap situation after next season. I believe we are in good hands, but having eight players command 75%-plus of our salary cap is a bit nerve-wracking. That sounds like cap hell for any team. Does this put more pressure/focus on last year's and this year's draft class with what possibly appears to be a dramatic roster change on the horizon?

There's already pressure on last year's draft class to make strides in Year 2, as any team needs genuine improvement from within amongst its young players to remain a contender. The same will be true a year from now with the upcoming draft class, no matter how many contribute as rookies. But also, big picture, four of the eight names on that cap list you referenced will be entering the final year of their current contracts in 2022, which means they'll either be candidates for extensions, which would lower their '22 cap number, or for getting released with minimal dead money. If a few players don't return, I wouldn't call that "dramatic roster change." That's more like business as usual in the NFL.

Rich from De Pere, WI

The sixth thing we learned from Mark Murphy following the owners meeting is that the Packers have no interest in discussing Aaron Rodgers' contract. That might mean a lot … it might mean nothing? But the answer sure fueled more questions and concerns from fans. Any insight?

Sure. I know the whole story but just can't tell you. Another April Fools. I'm done with those now. Sorry, I've got nothing for you. Wish I did. In my 15 years here, the Packers have never discussed specific contract issues in the media, so Murphy's avoidance of the topic was expected. So are the questions and concerns. It's reached the point where speculation feels irresponsible without hearing from Rodgers himself, and when that'll happen I have no idea.

Bill from Eudora, KS

Good morning, Mike. Now that the 17th game is official, one of the factors is that all 32 teams have to play an international game at least once every eight years. How soon do you see the Packers making their first overseas game?

That's the million-dollar question, isn't it? I asked Mark Murphy if the Packers (and by extension the NFC North) would be at or near the front of that eight-year international rotation because Green Bay hasn't played overseas yet, and he said he didn't know how the league would handle it. I'm guessing the answer to my question is yes.

Take a look at photos of Green Bay Packers G/T Billy Turner from the 2020 season.

Dan from Cross Plains, WI

Mark Murphy mentioned the reduction to three preseason games creates a "bye week" in what would have been Week 4 of the old preseason format. Does this mean that the season will end one week later than the old format?

Yes. The regular season will now be 18 weeks (17 games plus a bye), but it still starts the week after Labor Day, and two weeks remain between the conference title games and Super Bowl.

Thomas from Cedar Rapids, IA

I put little stock in mock drafts but read for the entertainment and to satisfy my curiosity. Some have no interior DL going until late in the first round. If your need is both CB and DL and you can get the best DT but only the fourth-best cornerback does that enter into the equation, or is it all still overall value?

Getting the best value for the pick is paramount, but I don't think it's ever about the "best" this or "fourth-best" that because those rankings are only relative to one specific draft and don't say anything about how a player will compete at the NFL level, which is what scouting is all about. In your scenario, all else being equal, how deep a team's draft board is at corner and D-line for subsequent rounds probably helps make the decision.

Jim from Cadott, WI

Do you think the 49ers wish they had a do-over in last year's draft when they trade up and took WR Brandon Aiyuk instead of QB Jordan Love now that they had to give up so much draft capital to move up and get a QB this year?

Jimmy Garoppolo had just led them to a Super Bowl. They couldn't have foreseen his upcoming injury issues, and I don't believe they anticipated having doubts about him being their long-term answer just a year later.

Tyler from Cross Plains, WI

In terms of one single event defining a player's career, only one name comes to mind … Buckner.

Sure, except in that case it was totally unfair. The guy hit .300-plus six times and drove in over 1,200 runs in his career. If his worst moment doesn't happen with the (then) cursed Red Sox, it's also a slightly different story.

Reed from York, PA

Last year we traded up to draft the fourth overall QB, while only sacrificing a fourth-round pick. Seeing what was given up for a crack at the second or third QB in this year's draft, by a team that has drafted a WR in the top 45 each of the past three seasons, I have to admire the wisdom of BG zigging while others zag. Ask an Eagles fan how those early WR picks have turned out. What single pick/draft move has impressed you most in BG's tenure?

I don't agree entirely with your premise (see comment on ranking players within a given draft above), but your point about WR picks is valid. To answer your question, it has to be the trade with his very first pick in '18, to get an extra first-rounder the following year. After all the trading over two years with those selections was done, Gutekunst turned a No. 14 overall pick plus a third-rounder and two fourths into the No. 18 and No. 21 overall picks in successive drafts, Jaire Alexander and Darnell Savage. That's not too shabby.

Michael from Burnsville, MN

What type of receiver do you think would be the best complement to Davante Adams? Adams seems like he does a little bit of everything, inside, outside, speed, jump balls, etc. The draft seems like it has some smaller, fast, slot-type players and some slightly slower, but bigger jump and catch-radius types. What would you pair with Davante?

I don't look at it as pairing someone with Davante as much as bringing a different dimension to LaFleur's offense as a whole, which I think would be the smaller, speedy type. The question might be where in the draft the Packers would target such an addition. If the next Randall Cobb is still there at the end of the second round, as the original article was a decade ago, I could see it.

Take a look at photos of Packers TE Marcedes Lewis through his years in Green Bay.

Brian from Pensacola, FL

With the expanded schedule, is the 17th game going to be universally played in the final week, or will that matchup be sprinkled into the schedule "randomly."

The latter. The final week of the regular season will still feature all division games, to my knowledge.

Mark from Providence, RI

With the expansion to 17 games this year, will the league consider adding another prime-time game teams can play?

Selfishly, from a work standpoint, I hope not.

Janet from Auburn, WA

I've only attended NFL games at Lambeau Field and in Seattle but have always wanted to experience Arrowhead Stadium. This would obviously be a great year to attend to watch the Packers-Chiefs game. Besides the great tailgating, what can you share about Arrowhead that a first-timer should experience if I'm lucky enough to visit sometime?

It's hard to describe, but Arrowhead – much like Lambeau – still has the charm of a bygone era yet there's little feeling anything "modern" is missing, at least from my experience. And the finish to the national anthem there is pretty cool.

Tom from Palatine, IL

Is there a reason for the first year of the 17th game concept of AFC/NFC that they wouldn't keep it simple and just play East vs. East, North vs. North, etc.? It just seems like it would be easier to start with and then just begin a rotation. Just one man's opinion. Welcome back, Mike.

The AFC North and NFC North are already matched up in the full-division rotation this year. The Packers are playing the Ravens, Steelers, Browns and Bengals in 2021, so your way of starting the 17th game rotation would have created a duplicate AFC opponent.

Dale from Lima, NY

Just saw nfl.com's strength-of-schedule rankings for the 2021 season, revised to include the 17th game. Da Bears have the third-hardest schedule. The Packers fourth. The Vikings fifth. And the Lions are tied for the sixth-hardest schedule. Ouch! Looks like for this season the NFC North truly will be the black-and-blue division once again. How often does an entire division clump together so tightly for this kind of ranking?

Well, the Bears, Vikings and Lions all have two games against a 13-3 team on their slates, so that's a huge factor in their rankings, while the Packers are playing a first-place schedule. Also, the NFC North is playing all the teams in the AFC North (as mentioned) and NFC West, two divisions that produced a combined five playoff teams in 2020.

Take a look at photos of Green Bay Packers TE Jace Sternberger from the 2020 season.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

We don't know the when yet, but we now know the who and the where. At first glance this would appear to be as challenging a schedule as any in recent memory. Your thoughts at this point, Mike?

I don't ever recall 10 games against playoff teams from the prior year. Granted, two of those are against a new No. 7 seed (Chicago), but still. It's a gauntlet. Most interesting to me is every non-division opponent coming to Lambeau (Browns, Steelers, Rams, Seahawks, Washington) went to the playoffs last year. That has to be a first, or very rare.

Dalton from DeForest, WI

What international location would you be most excited or intrigued about as the site for the Packers' first international series game?

Definitely London, simply because there's such a strong contingent of Packers fans in the UK. I want to see them bring it to Wembley or Tottenham. Plus I'd like to visit one if not both of those stadiums someday, and a few of those crazy UK fans have promised to buy me a Boddingtons.

Dar from Mansfield, TX

Spoff, with Opening Day upon us and you being a baseballer turned Inboxer, I thought I'd inquire about your favorite sports fantasy. Would you rather be in the opening-day lineup for an MLB team, starting on offense for the Packers vs. your childhood training-camp team, the Bears, about to hit your first tee shot at the Masters, or something else?

My youth fantasies were always about being on a major league ball diamond. But at this stage of life, your Masters suggestion has strong appeal. I don't play the game regularly anymore, but I did compete on my high school and college teams, the best part of which was getting to play tournaments on a lot of great courses around our state.

Roger from McGrath, AK

When we're on the clock during the draft I'm reminded of a question posed by an Alaska Board of Game member to a biologist who didn't have the data for the Board to make a decision that they couldn't duck. "I know you don't know the answer but if you did, what would it be?" The draft, as well and the II, is like that too, isn't it? Hello to Rod in Chugiak.

That's the next quote getting pasted up in my cube.

Keith from Normal, IL

Good morning Mike, nice Seinfeld reference. What episode would you say you enjoy the most? Mine has to be the one where Elaine dances. Hope you get to eat some Steak 'n Shake soon.

There is no favorite "Seinfeld" episode. That's impossible for me. And that's no April Fools. Happy Opening Day.

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