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Inbox: That's the beauty of modern football

You gotta keep your eyes peeled to fully appreciate it

WR Allen Lazard
WR Allen Lazard

Neil from Kalispell, MT

In Evan Siegle's pic at the top of the Inbox yesterday, what's going on with Aaron Rodgers' left palm? Are those cuts and stitches?

It's grass. If I ever needed a reminder we're in the heart of the slow season. Good morning!

Eric from Kenosha, WI

Skip II in the offseason? Why would anyone do that? During the season, it is naturally dominated by the emotions from the most recent game. In the offseason, it's a community of fans and our two knowledgeable writer friends discussing important topics like the football future of laser technology. Poor Joe, he doesn't know what he's missing.

Joe is clearly the guy who leaves the party as soon as the game is over.

Al from New Franken, WI

An under-the-radar injury I'd undo: the hamstring tear to Desmond Bishop in the 2012 preseason. He was a huge part of our defense during the Super Bowl year and was just entering his prime. He did recover and played in the NFL again, but not nearly as effective as he was with the Packers. With all the issues the Packers had stopping the run for the years after, just wonder if it would've been different had Bishop stayed healthy.

That was a heartbreaking injury because Bishop was a self-made man whose NFL success didn't come overnight. He only played six more regular-season games after that injury. It also forced the Packers to cycle through inside linebackers for three years before finally finding long-term answers.

Joseph from Salt Lake City, UT

Do you see the Packers extending Allen Lazard's contract for 2020? With all the push to get more weapons for Aaron Rodgers, will he drop back down to fighting for a spot in September? And what does it mean that he's an exclusive rights FA?

That was only Lazard's first accrued NFL season. He falls the under "exclusive rights" category for the next two seasons, meaning he must sign whatever contract is tenured to him by the controlling club. Once he has three accrued seasons, Lazard will then be a restricted free agent and eligible for an actual extension (e.g. Lucas Patrick).

Brian from Rockaway, NJ

I looked up post-2010 drafts for notable offensive players and saw in the 2015 draft Jake Ryan was the only Packer to see out his rookie contract in Green Bay and he finished 2018 on IR. Damarious Randall is the only draftee still starting in the NFL with Ty Montgomery, Ryan, and Brett Hundley in backup roles on NFL squads. On the bright side, we now have the Smith Bros. and Adrian Amos from the 2015 draft class, so we have that going for us, which is nice.

And a quick word of caution to Packers fans to temper expectations this winter. It'll be difficult for Green Bay to be as active in unrestricted free agency this time around because of how productive their 2016 and '17 draft classes were. Dean Lowry was already re-signed, and Kenny Clark  and Aaron Jones are both eligible for extensions, as well.

Dana from Eau Claire, WI

How does this defense, which Mike Pettine even admitted is focused on the pass first, not get gouged again next year by running teams?

That's what Pettine and his coaches have to figure out once the 2020 roster takes form and they know what they're working with. The Packers defended the run well at times last year but not consistently enough to be a top unit. I think it would help if Green Bay added a space-eating defensive tackle to the rotation, but improvement won't come from just one player. It takes that whole front doing its job to make strides against the run.

Mark from Cumberland, MD

You're a player coming out of college and you're projected to be drafted around the late first or early second round. Are you hoping to go in the late first with the esteem that comes with being a team's No. 1 pick, or would you rather get picked early in the second round and have an earlier shot at that big-money second contract?

I know there's been some controversy about the fifth-year option on first-round picks but I'd still rather go in the top 32 if I'm a player. Yes, you lose a year of contractual freedom but the signing bonus is better for first-rounders and the option year pays pretty well. I also believe that fifth year can be beneficial for both the team and the player to come to terms on a long-term extension.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Mike Renner of PFF ranked the relative strength of each position group in the 2020 draft class. At the top, he had WR and OT ranked one and two, respectively, DT fourth, ILB eighth, and TE 11th. These are all positions I expect Gute to address in the draft and/or FA. How will the strength or weakness of these positions in the draft affect availability and cost in FA?

The 2019 NFL Draft wasn't a particularly strong year for defensive backs so I guess that could have played a role in the Packers making Darnell Savage the first guy off the board at his position. But the Packers signed arguably the best outside linebackers and one of the top safeties last year and still drafted those two positions in the first round. So I'm not sure how applicable it really is.

Edward from Appleton, WI

With the new CBA being negotiated, what do you think of a "quarterback" cap? I could see the benefits of the CBA declaring that the most any one player could be paid would be a set percentage of the total cap, around 18%. Owners would support it because it keeps QB salaries from escalating so high that it starves the rest of the roster. The other players would support it because it leaves more cap space for them, and the QBs would still be eligible for $30-plus million contracts.

I wouldn't be in favor of it. Quarterback salaries have risen with the salary cap. While QBs often are the driving force behind championship teams, it's not the only way to win (e.g. the 2015 Denver Broncos). The cap is what it is. Make of it what you will.

Bill from Menominee, MI

One last LeRoy Butler story. He was a guest speaker at a high school football fundraiser I attended about five years ago. His 20-minute speech was based on his path to the NFL. However, LeRoy never left the spotlight the entire evening! He drew raffle winners and handed out prizes while taking photos with whoever asked him. Then when the auction came, he personally paraded the item in such a fun showcase that it started a huge bidding war. He energized the entire room.

Butler was a Hall of Fame football player but he's also extremely relatable to media and fans. My generation, specifically, has grown up with Butler on our TV screens. He represents a special time in Packers history. I think that's why he means so much to this fan base.

Take a look at photos of Packers K Mason Crosby from the 2019 season.

Stephen from Mount Airy, MD

Mike and Wes, it's great to see Charles Woodson and Al Harris make the Packers HOF and announce their presenters. Everyone knows Woodson's legacy, but what else can you say about Harris as a player that shows why he got this honor? Personally that pick-six is what got me really into playing and watching football. Just tell me how I ended up playing guard and not corner like No. 31?

Harris was one of the best press-man cornerbacks I've seen in-person. In his prime, Harris was the perfect blend of physicality and athleticism, and his dedication to his craft was without equal. Harris also was the first player I traded for in "Madden" that later became an actual Packers player.

Gary from Sheboygan, WI

Insiders, regarding how you watch and evaluate plays, how many great plays have you missed by watching the OT block the blitzing LB instead of the great pass to the WR?

That's the beauty of modern football. You'll see the great pass-and-catch two dozen times thanks to replay, but they don't run the terrific reach block by a guard or pass-pro pickup by the running back on a loop on the jumbotron. You gotta keep your eyes peeled to fully appreciate it.

Randy from Clarksville, TN

I've always been a big fan of Blake Martinez and have thought his effort and intensity on the field was a model for the other defensive players. That being said, what is he missing in terms of ability that is causing many people to say he's a sure goner? Please help me out here. Guys like Blake don't come along every day. Thank you very much.

Martinez isn't missing as much as some fans want to believe. They have this utopian image of a do-it-all inside linebacker that doesn't really exist. They want someone who runs a 4.5, stops runners for a loss on every play, can cover like Darrelle Revis and generates eight turnovers a season. Those players are in short supply and the best wind up in Canton.

Ashton from Bluffdale, UT

When I watch football games, I've trained my eyes to focus on the trenches, no matter if the Packers are on offense or defense, a run play or a pass play. The defensive line vs. the offensive line and all the strategy that goes into it is the best in football.

A house is only as stable as its foundation.

Darrell from San Antonio, TX

I know it's early to project the draft at least until the evaluations in Indy. However, my question is would you be surprised if the Packers selected an ILB and OT with the first two picks instead of a WR that everyone seems to think that they will?

Nothing would surprise me picking at No. 30. That's why teams build the boards and keep every option on the table.

Sean from Arverne, NY

II, is there any chance Drew Brees goes back to the Chargers?

I don't think so but what a story that would be.

Robert from Verona, WI

What (if any) kind of help do TV/radio broadcasters get during the game to help them know what happened on the field? Often a flag will fly, and before the refs even announce it, the broadcasters will indicate they think it's going to be a specific penalty against a specific player. Sometimes it's obvious, like when an O-lineman commits a holding penalty to save their QB from a big hit. But what about the less obvious calls? Do the broadcasters get any help or are they just that good?

Sometimes announcers are that good and ultra-aware, but they also have producers, spotters and statisticians to assist their commentary.

Andrew from Green Bay, WI

Why do the Packers wear the same throwback jerseys every year?

Third/alternate uniforms run on five-year rotations.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Did you realize Chicago, Detroit, and Minnesota did not have team valentines on their websites? continues to exceed expectations and blow away the competition. Thank you to everyone for all their hard work.

That's a credit to Ryan Hartwig, Steven Hudy and Jennifer Fisher. Our social department did a terrific job with those.

Mark from Bettendorf, IA

What do you think of the Astros' response to their getting caught, and subsequent punishment? Does the punishment fit the crime?

As a casual observer, could this have been handled any worse by the Astros? Like every part of it since Mike Fiers' original testimony?

George from Manassas, VA

Not a question, probably not the first compliment. I'm not a baseball guy, Mike. You really clarified the Rose argument – hope the younger guys quoted you on social media.

I was like three years old when the whole Rose fiasco went down, which is why I left the Astros/Rose comments for Spoff. And he didn't disappoint. I gained a new perspective on Rose that I hadn't considered before Friday's column. Based on the Inbox comments, I know I'm not alone. Have a good weekend, everyone.