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Inbox: The Packers reserve that honor

No one really knows until the green flag drops

QB Aaron Rodgers

Scott from Lincoln City, OR

Mike, are you at the point yet where you just want Watt to sign somewhere, anywhere?

I don't know. Oh wait, I mean, um, yes.

Frogger from Marinette, WI

Passing on T.J. Watt for Kevin King now looks like an even bigger mistake with the J.J. Watt sweepstakes. How cool would it have been to have both on the team?

A popular sentiment this week for sure.

Jim from Lake Alfred, FL

Hi Mike. Regarding this J.J. Watt (hope we sign him) thing, maybe BG should use the same tactic that Holmgren used on Reggie White. (J.J., this is God and you need to go to Green Bay). Do you think it will work?

Yet another popular take in the Inbox. I have no knowledge of Watt's religious sensibilities. White was an ordained minister. And once again we are moving on from the Watt questions.

Brian from Rochester, NY

I agree OT, DL and CB and the three pressing needs that if fulfilled will keep this team in the mix and potentially take them over the top. It'll be interesting just to see how BG gets this roster under the cap without creating more needs. It will be difficult to get to a point a free agent can sign to create the needed flexibility in the draft. Everyone wants Watt but a Patrick Peterson would be a great start just to throw a name out there.

I think a lot depends on just what the prices are in the free-agent market. There's a lot of speculation the top-of-the-line players are still going to get the big bucks, but the cap crunch will push salaries down for the mid-level guys. No one really knows until the green flag drops, though.

Karl from Fort Collins, CO

The new cap floor of $180 million is $12.2 million less than last year. Is that of much help, or does it still leave a lot of tough decisions to be made?

The $180M floor is $5M higher than originally thought, but still $18M lower than last year, so we'll see what the final ceiling is. But decisions still await, because the cap had gone up by at least $10M per year for the last several years, and that projected increase isn't happening.

Steve from Wabasha, MN

One of my favorite Proverbs: "It is better to remain silent and appear ignorant than to open your mouth and remove all doubt." I have tried to live by this my entire life, even before I heard it. It has served me well except in my marriage. How are you doing with that?

It doesn't work in my marriage either.

Aaron from Brooklyn, NY

I recently saw a conversation about whether or not the Packers should retire Charles Woodson's number. That got me thinking. Outside of Aaron Rodgers, who will certainly be the last 12 in Titletown, are there any players you've watched or covered that you think would deserve that honor, or current players who might when it's all said and done? Assuming levels of play continue, my money would be on David Bakhtiari and his mountain of All-Pro awards as having the best shot.

No disrespect intended, but I don't see it for anyone but Rodgers. With this franchise, how do you retire Woodson's number but not Herb Adderley's or Willie Wood's? How do you retire Bakhtiari's but not Forrest Gregg's? The Packers reserve that honor for the ultra-select few, which is the best approach and one I don't see changing.

Tim from Braceville, IL

How many more years does Rodgers have left at this level of play?

After what he just did at age 37, winning the MVP, I don't see a reason to put a number on it now. When Tom Brady won his second MVP at 33, I don't think anyone predicted he'd win another at 40 and then two more Super Bowls after that. Let's watch and see.

Marty from Edgerton, WI

Wentz being traded to the Colts makes all the sense in the world. He played his best football when Frank Reich was his OC. Do you think he'll be able to regain his MVP-caliber play in Indy?

He has a better chance in Indy with Reich than anywhere or with anyone else. I hope he succeeds. The trade makes official one of the most incredible stats I've ever seen – none of the 22 QBs drafted in the first round from 2009-16 will be with their original team in 2021.

Russ from Henrico, VA

The 2021 offensive line combinations and permutations seem endless. Do you think Elgton Jenkins filling any gap time at LT is on the table? And for what it's worth I have fond memories of way too many players that were before your time.

I rule nothing out with Jenkins. Gutekunst will try to put together the best offensive line room he can, and then the coaches will make decisions based on what they have when camp starts.

Robert from Verona, WI

I'm surprised to see that some II readers don't think the Packers will be able to retain Aaron Jones or Jamaal Williams. I understand the price tag for Jones could be prohibitive, but it seems like Williams should be a player the Packers can retain if they want to. While nobody is going to pay me a dime as a talent evaluator, it seems that Williams could do well in an expanded role, and I'm wondering if you think Williams is in line to get "lead back" money, or "complementary back" money as a free agent?

No one's going to give him feature back money when he hasn't proven himself in that role. But he's certainly in line to make more than on his rookie contract.

Mike from Lake Villa, IL

Good morning Mike! I need to know, did Larry have to clear it through you to be allowed to use the phrase, "Most Bestest!"? If so, how were you able to sleep that night?

Larry gets to do what he wants.

Matt from Waunakee, WI

Ron Wolf makes a crazy trade for Favre. TT goes out on a limb and gets booed for selecting Rodgers. Without a courageous move by the GM there would be no MVP QB. Just one man's opinion.

Valid point, but you're assuming those QBs' talents would have languished forever if not for the GMs making those moves. It's debatable, but I believe the cream eventually rises.

Sean from Boulder, CO

No one will dismiss the importance of a good GM, but isn't it more important to find a coaching staff to work with whatever they are given? As to the Ravens and "subpar QB play," Joe Flacco had perhaps the best postseason ever by a QB that led them to the title. Eli did it twice. Does Newsome get credit for drafting Jackson or does Harbaugh because he knew how to use him? Do only good GMs win titles or average ones, too? I would say there's probably more average GMs who've won than average QBs.

I like the varying perspectives. There's a lot to sort out and plenty to ponder. I do agree there's no question in this era any non-elite QB has to play at an elite level to win when it really counts. The last 20 years have proven that.

Jennifer from Middleton, WI

Mike, outside of II, I have learned to only trust media reports that come from veteran "insiders." But this week on Pat McAfee's show they discussed how teams are using these "insiders" to forward an agenda by intentionally leaking false info to them so it becomes a social media story. I suppose one could argue leveraging social media is just them turning over every leaf and "playing the game." But as a fan, I feel used. No reporter can be trusted now. How do you feel as a journalist?

Unfortunately, the old standard from the Woodward and Bernstein/Watergate era of having at least two sources (if no one's going on the record) to confirm breaking news went by the wayside a long time ago. Now, one-source tweets and stories are common. Reporters want to be first and generate clicks. It's on the reporter to figure out if he's being used or fed bad info, and it's also on the consumer to figure out who gets things right versus wrong more often than not. Anyone can get burned by a source once. But if it were me, I'd never trust that source again without verifying any info with another source. Readers should do the same with those they read.

Jeff from Ripon, WI

When is the last time the Packers drafted an offensive lineman in the first round?

2010 (Bryan Bulaga) and 2011 (Derek Sherrod).

Eric from West Salem, WI

Good morning! Can you tell us more about the three OL drafted last year? I keep reading that the Packers need to draft OL, but I thought our depth showed to be good. I would agree with drafting another tackle though because you can never have enough big men! Have a great day.

The three draft picks last year – Jon Runyan, Simon Stepaniak and Jake Hanson – are all interior players. Runyan played tackle in college but the Packers pegged him as a guard right away. Hanson is a center, and both he and Stepaniak had different injury issues during their rookie seasons.

John from Green Bay, WI

It goes without saying Tampa's ILBs played with remarkable speed. Is that a product of Tampa's defensive scheme, or the mental and physical quickness of the players?

The players' tools come first, and then the scheme maximizes on them.

Brandon from Imperial, MO

Good morning, I know you've said the Packers are in the hunt for the draft in 2024, but with Covid shutting down live drafts do you think that will "bump" the cities that are currently scheduled into the subsequent year? Could the NFL possibly move those cities to the back of the line to not interrupt the scheduling and accommodations being prepared for a particular year's draft?

Great questions, and worth keeping an eye on for sure. In 2019, the league awarded Cleveland and Kansas City the '21 and '23 drafts, respectively. Then last year when Vegas lost its scheduled hosting, it was pegged for '22, which was open. Nothing else has been announced or determined, so stay tuned I guess.

Eric from Glyndon, MN

The resumption of the International Series will depend upon *gestures broadly*, but the Packers remain the only team not to have played in London, and Green Bay hosting the draft remains a real possibility. Is there any chance that the league would predicate awarding a draft to GB upon agreeing to give up a home game for one in the UK? If you're Mark Murphy, is that a deal that you would be willing to make?

Wow, I hadn't thought about it in those terms. It would not be Murphy's preference, certainly, but it's an interesting scenario with a ninth regular-season home game every other year soon to begin. Then again, the local economy just got clobbered by the pandemic season without fans, so he may be even more adamant about his longstanding pledge to not give up a home game. I don't want to put words in Mark's mouth, so I suggest you submit this to Murphy Takes Five.

Shannon from Ovilla, TX

Spoff, I know you are like most of us in your sports fandom. As a Packers, UW, Bucks, Brewers fan I feel like most of the II is with me in overall frustration that our teams come so close without winning a championship in the past 10 years. A national title game loss, two NLCS as the higher seed, two best-in-NBA records, four NFCCG losses. All of these with an MVP or national player of the year as well. Seems like we are continually looking for someone to blame.

The frustration is understandable and the desire to blame someone natural. Six of the nine close calls you referenced were really, painfully close in my book. It's a vastly unsatisfying thing to say, but that's sports, man. Call it my own twist on "don't hate the player, hate the game." As a fan, I wouldn't make a trade for one championship if it meant the other five (or eight) were ho-hum seasons.

Andy from Minneapolis, MN

This time of year for the NFL is just all speculation so why waste time asking a question about what should the Packers do? So with that I want to learn more about Mike. With all the forms of media you guys do for the Packers like the Inbox, longform stories and videos, what is your favorite one to do? How have you adapted over the years to the ever-changing media world? Must feel something like being a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none?

I consider myself first and foremost a writer, and at different times in my career that's meant hard news delivery, feature storytelling, fan interaction, analysis, and editorializing. I've appreciated the opportunity this job has given me to branch out more into the latter two in recent years, but I still enjoy them all. The biggest adjustment was when all the on-camera duties started, and they've increased along the way. It's been fun to be challenged and to expand skills, but I'll always take more personal pride in what I write than any words I say on camera.

Kyle from Wallingford, PA

For Curt from Algonquin, I do have a couple of important dates. March 18 is the start of "Why didn't we sign player X?" and April 30 starts "Why didn't we draft player Y?" submissions. Please mark your calendars accordingly.

Happy Friday.


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