Barb from Lenexa, KS
What is the most important issue you need to address for continued success?
Getting Wes back from vacation the next time there's a full schedule of Zoom interviews in one offseason day.
Chris from West Allis, WI
What was your biggest takeaway from Barry's interview? I was amazed to see a DC in his first press conference with a new team stop because he didn't get a reporter's first name and wanted to address him properly. If that's any indication of what he'll be like in the locker room, I'm liking things so far.
What struck me the most was hearing him discuss the "scars" in his coaching career while also referencing Super Bowls. That's why I focused my story on it. This is an assistant coach who has seen, done, and been through all the highs and lows. A perspective that runs the gamut has value. Also, I don't know exactly how to frame what it means when the guys you've worked for have spanned Tony Dungy and Monte Kiffin to Sean McVay and Brandon Staley, but it piques my interest as well.
Matt from Fort Worth, TX
"I stared at a hole in the ice for five hours and had a blast." That's got to be one of my favorite lines from a coach's interview.
It ranks up there for sure.
Steven from Silver Spring, MD
With the finalized coaching staff being announced, it is notable that while we changed DCs, all other defensive staff stayed on board. This seems highly unusual, especially that Barry did not bring in anyone from his own background. Has that kind of transition happened in recent memory on our team or really any in the league that you can think of?
It does strike me as unusual, but Barry said Tuesday he wanted to keep everybody, and there's never a guarantee other coaches a new coordinator might want to bring on are available anyway. If they're under contract with another team, that team doesn't have to let them go if the opportunity is a lateral move.
Tim from Champaign, IL
Hi guys, two questions concerning the coaching additions. 1. There were no position coach changes on D. Do any of the incumbents (especially Gray) have experience with a Fangio-esque system? 2. Since no defensive run game coordinator was announced, will Barry be giving that his personal attention, given his background with LBs?
1. Not much that I know of, but Gray has coached in a number of defensive systems. 2. That sounds like a reasonable assumption to me.
Brandon from Vacaville, CA
Maurice Drayton has me wanting to play special teams for him. What was your first impression from his presser? What differences did you see in personality compared to SM? Also, what are your thoughts on his approach as an educator?
Your first line says it best. I think he has a personality that will make players want to play special teams for him. As an educator, I also would presume he knows how to get his message across in different ways and to different types of individuals.
Adam from Wausau, WI
Hi Mike, how much do coordinators get involved in the draft process? Do they tell the GM this is the player I want or the skill set I want, or does the GM draft players and it's up to the coordinators to fit these players into their plans?
Mostly the latter, but the personnel department is in tune with the skill sets desired, not blatantly ignoring them.
James from Appleton, WI
While we're all talking about reworking and extending contracts to get under the salary cap, I would sure be happy if the Packers used the last year of Marquez Valdes-Scantling's rookie deal as leverage for a team-friendly extension. For a GM who has shown he always keeps one eye on the road ahead, it seems like a good move, despite going in the wrong direction with the cap.
That's one way to look at it from the Packers' perspective. From MVS's perspective, he may want to bet on himself – push for 1,000 yards and a few more TDs, shake the drops, and see what he's worth out there.
Doug from Neenah, WI
Good morning Mike, what are the pros and cons of using the franchise tag on Aaron Jones? Thank you for the daily enlightenments.
The pros would be keeping Jones for at least one more year at a reasonable price, buying more time to work out a long-term deal, or creating the possibility of trading him for a draft pick higher than a compensatory choice. The cons would be carrying Jones at a 2021 cap number higher than that in a long-term deal, and angering Jones in a couple of ways if that long-term deal can't be reached before the deadline – by making him wait another year for a big guarantee and therefore risking injury without it, unless he would decide to not sign the franchise tender and hold out. If all that sounds complicated, it is, which is why both sides would prefer the tag not be used.
Rich from Grand Rapids, MI
The coverage of Watson, Prescott, Rodgers and now Wilson keeps announcing "the players are showing that they have leverage." But you only hear that from former players and agents, not owners. "Complaining loudly" is not the same as leverage. Until those players, including headline QBs, actually accomplish something from complaining it is just white noise.
Like I said, I want to see how these situations play out.
Brian from Las Vegas, NV
Arizona?!? You guys promised us J.J. would sign with the Packers and bring us a Super Bowl! I mean, not in so many words, but we can all read between the lines. With such memorable answers as "I don't know," what other conclusion were we supposed to come to?
I'm laughing too hard to type anything else.
Tom from Anchorage, AK
Now that this J.J. Watt nonsense is put to bed, who can we realistically bring in – remembering it is always, no matter what they tell you, about the money. Only thing I can think of is an older CB or OL that can be gotten for at or near minimum to buy time until rookie CB/David Bakhtiari are ready to play. Thoughts?
I would expect those options to be explored to build/maintain veteran depth, but I can't predict whether the right fit will be found.
Jeremiah from Madison, WI
I know the cap has gone up pretty consistently for the last many years and teams have planned a lot of contracts around that. When was the last time the cap actually went down and what can team behavior from that offseason tell us about how this may end up playing out?
I don't believe it's ever gone down, because league revenues have never gone down year over year, which is why there is no road map for this.
Timothy from Wauwatosa, WI
Why don't NFL GMs trade back/out of first and second round and try to get as many third- through sixth-round picks as possible and essentially get two of nearly every position? (if Packers had seven picks plus three compensatory, they could use the round 1-2 picks to trade back for more round 3-6 picks and try to end up with 14-16 picks and pick up 2DL, 2OL, 2CB, 2 S, 2WR, 2LB, 1TE, 1QB 1RB - ish?) If you had 14-16 picks every year and drafted nearly two players at every position, your depth would be stocked, leverage in hand, lower $ contracts.
Wow, that sounds genius. Except the data show first- and second-round picks develop into solid NFL starters about 50% of the time, and players drafted in the third round and later have a far lower success rate. So out of those 14-16 picks you're stockpiling, the number of legitimate players you might end up with would be four or five … -ish? You'd have an incredibly cheap, and bad, team. But good luck.
Julian from Gastonia, NC
Specialization appears to be the byword of productivity. As I understand it, Packer scouts are assigned geographic areas to evaluate players. Wouldn't it be much more successful if they evaluated players according to position. For example, you might have a scout who only evaluates wide receivers and running backs, or another scout assigned to grade only defensive lineman. Yes, it would mean more travel, but the cost would be minimal in the scheme of things.
It's not the cost of the travel that would be the issue but the time spent traveling rather than, you know, scouting. Geographic scouts also build longstanding relationships with college head coaches and other contacts at schools within their region that would be harder to develop if scouts were assigned positions.
Neil from Tunbridge Wells, UK
In the time you have covered the Packers is there a player or coach you feel never quite got the reward/recognition their performances deserved?
Plenty. The list of coaches is too long, but at the top of it would be James Campen. For underappreciated players, the ones that come to mind right away are from my first five or so years here, because I came to understand just how valuable they were the longer I've been doing this. Guys like Chad Clifton, Scott Wells, Ryan Grant, Desmond Bishop, Ryan Pickett and Jarrett Bush are off the top of my head.
Dan from Rothschild, WI
Mike, who in Wisconsin doesn't use their charcoal grill year-round? Put your big pants on and get out there.
I have my limits. More of them as I get older.
Cliff from Alexandria, VA
Insiders, this isn't a sly "let's sign Clay!" message – I'm genuinely curious: When a player like Clay Matthews sits out for a season because they never find their contract, does it have a huge negative impact on their value in the next season? Would Clay command similar money this year to last year, or would he be viewed as a risk now since he has no recent tape to show how well he's able to perform at his age?
The latter would be a significant factor in any contract leverage and would probably lead to an incentive-laden deal if there's mutual interest.
Benjamin from Mount Pleasant, SC
With the Packers likely to convert some of Rodgers' 2021 salary into signing bonuses to pay out over multiple years, the Packers said they're in talks with him but also that they don't need his permission. My question is: What would be the downside for a player if their salary is spread out? Is it just that they have to wait for the money? Is the spread-out signing bonus guaranteed money?
You (and some others) are confusing the issues here. Converting salary to signing bonus means the player gets it all right away. It's spread out over multiple years only for cap calculations. If the guaranteed amount is the same, and the player is going to collect it now (rather than over the 17 weeks of the upcoming season), it's to his benefit.
Bruce from Appleton, WI
With J.J. Watt going to the Cardinals will the Packers look for more help on the D-line for next year?
I've been expecting them to do so regardless.
Dan from Kenosha, WI
Aaron Rodgers plays sheepshead. My bucket list just grew by one item.
As a Wisconsinite, I'm sure you're not alone. Now you've got me afraid I may hear from him about putting that out there.
Matt from Quarantine, NY
I just want to take a moment and express how grateful I am that Aaron Rodgers is our QB. I am more disappointed than anyone that the team has not won a second SB in his time in GB. There really is no excuse for that. However, I am so tired of some people in the media painting any sort of a negative picture about him. Either on the field or off of it as a leader and person. I doubt he will ever see this but what he has done in 2020-2021 inspires me to better a person in all aspects of life. TY-12.
Your well-stated sentiments are shared by many, and we can all hope you're not living in your current locale much longer.
Jeremy from Prince George, BC
Mike, when you write the Inbox do you select your questions and answer them as you go, or read through, select the ones you're going to answer and then order them first? Something in between?
Remember, we don't talk about the Inbox.
Rod from Chugiak, AK
My earliest years of sports fandom were the tail end of most pro athletes needing another income to make ends meet. The Old Warhorse Enos "Country" Slaughter went home at season's end to climb on his tractor. Bronco Nagurski in a locker room interview was asked by a sportswriter what he did in the offseason to maintain his prodigious strength. When he answered that he plowed his fields, a few teammates chimed in that they did that, too. Bronco, turning to them, questioned, "Without a horse?"