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Inbox: The timeline was not a coincidence

This league sets you up to be a victim of your own success

LB Za'Darius Smith

Ryan from Elmhurst, IL

While working from home with no office dress code, did either of you Inboxers ever put this column together in briefs?

And once again we're off, so we might as well get going.

John from Las Vegas, NV

I have asked this before and got no answer. Simple question: Why can't the NFLPA and owners just get together in this unique year and just agree to a higher cap?

And I've answered this before, though many must have missed it. The NFLPA would love that, but the owners just paid the players their full salaries under an unchanged cap in a year with empty or near-empty stadiums. The owners expect the players to share in the economic pain, plain and simple.

Patrick from Folly Beach, SC

What do you think of the new proposal from the Ravens for overtime rules? It works like this: One team picks the spot of the ball to start overtime, and the other team chooses whether to play offense or defense.

I'll be honest, I've reached the point I'm not totally opposed to just ending games as ties after 60 minutes (except in the playoffs, of course). But an overtime idea like this one changes the system back to pure sudden death while greatly reducing the value or importance of the coin toss, which I think are both positives. With overtimes as they're conducted now, the coin-toss winner in the NFL always chooses offense and in college always chooses defense, due to the inherent advantages. Baltimore's "spot and choose" proposal would have the coin-toss winner only getting to select whether it wants to pick the yard line, or go on offense/defense first. Color me intrigued.

Jake from West Allis, WI

The Packers need a CB or two and that's obvious. I saw some chatter stating that this was a sign of failures upstairs. While I agree we have had some busts in the defensive backfield over the past few years, couldn't you argue CB will be a relatively big need almost every year for almost every team? Any given team couldn't possibly afford to pay all the corners second-contract money, and in today's pass-heavy league you need to have a solid core group and depth guys for when the injury bug bites.

Absolutely, and I concur on all counts.

Andy from Verona, WI

Which positions appear to be the deepest in this year's draft? Which positions seem to have the least depth?

Truthfully, I have not yet gathered up the energy to dive into studying this draft in depth, which in the past has happened naturally by spending a week at the combine. I promise to summon the effort soon.

Mutt from Blaine, MN

Good morning II. I decided to take a break from the non-stop NFL cycle after the championship game loss. I've gone cold turkey since and am just now getting back into the news as free agency approaches. I've missed you but it's been good for the soul. What's the longest break you get to take to refresh your batteries and how do you prefer to spend it?

Welcome back. The longest continuous break each of us will take is two weeks (Wes is on such a hiatus now, and I'll do the same when he gets back). More often, it's just shorter breaks spread out. In one fashion or another, I like to devote offseason time to going somewhere warm with my family in February, binging on Madness in March, and making my way to baseball games over the spring and summer. I'm looking forward to resuming the latter two pastimes after losing out a year ago.

Nathan from Philadelphia, PA

Fascinating piece by Cliff on the Packers' retired numbers. Obviously 12 will be the next number to be retired. Once LeRoy Butler finally gets into the Hall of Fame, will 12 also be the next Packer inducted there? (Not counting Julius Peppers or others who played here only a short time.)

That's a reasonable bet, unless the Hall's senior committee makes a big push for someone like Gale Gillingham or Sterling Sharpe to get another serious look.

LeeAnn from Carefree, IN

Well, that explains it. You bought Wes lunch on his first day and he's been paying it off ever since. Sounds like money well spent. A wise investment on your part, Mike.

I've always thought so.

Robert from Glasgow, DE

Mike, regarding Hans from Tulsa's idea of teams near the top in the first round moving back, my thought was then in the 2019 NFL Draft Tampa Bay would not have drafted Devin White, the best player I was hoping for the Pack but out of range. The next best LB was Devin Bush to the Steelers, leaving the Pack's situation still in need a fast, powerful LB. I doubt Tampa Bay would take three second-round picks for Devin White today. The Pack would have loved to have Bush just a month ago.

And the Steelers would have loved to have Bush two months ago, but he tore his ACL in October, just more proof there are no guarantees in this game, even with two highly similar guys drafted two picks apart (No. 8 and 10). But yeah, I'm in tune with your point.

Bob from Sydney, Australia

Hi Mike. Hackett's answer about building an offense while some of the key the pieces are still unknown was to say his scheme should be able to integrate all types of skill sets. Does the O-line need to block differently for different back types (Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon). And if so, wouldn't that change the whole blocking and play-action system, especially given GB wants to do many different things while looking the same?

The blocking isn't different for different backs. There may be certain plays that are run more often with one back vs. another, but the concept is the concept.

Kurt from Des Moines, IA

Just saw the picture of Mason Crosby walking through the tunnel at Lambeau Field. It made me wonder, are the Packers the only team that uses the same locker room for both games and practice? I assume most have a separate practice facility with a locker room.

Most do. I can't say if the Packers are the only team, but it isn't all that common, and it's part of what makes Green Bay's facility special.

Take a look at photos of Green Bay Packers K Mason Crosby from the 2020 season.

Gretchen from Dousman, WI

I'm gettin' it now, Mike, especially with your answers to other cap and draft questions. It's looking to me that Gutey and Ted and their scouts have done such a great job in the later rounds that we have a wealth of talent, not to mention great coaches that develop said talent. That leaves us open to losing great players to teams who haven't done as good a draft-and-develop job.

This league sets you up to be a victim of your own success. The flip side is true, too, when the draft-and-develop doesn't go as planned. What year in the Aaron Rodgers era did the Packers make their biggest free-agent splash? 2019, with Preston Smith and Za'Darius Smith, Adrian Amos and Billy Turner. How was that possible? Because no one from the 2015 draft got a second contract. Draft-pick contracts are four years. The timeline was not a coincidence.

Shaun from Cottage Grove, WI

Looking around the division, in your mind, who is the Bears' starting quarterback next season?

Your guess is as good as mine.

Joe from Ashburn, VA

Of all the new coaching hires and promotions, which coach do you think will have the more immediate impact on the team?

As much as I don't see a major transition to the scheme, a new defensive coordinator will be no small impact, and it'll be felt in the first game. But as far as others, I'm curious to ask Jerry Gray what the title of passing game coordinator adds to his plate.

Terrance from Sun Prairie, WI

What surprises can we expect from the draft this year?

Hopefully fewer from the Packers, just for my own sanity. As everyone knows, I'm not into predictions, but if you had told me before last year's draft the Packers were going to trade up for a QB in the first round and then not draft a defensive lineman nor wide receiver over nine total picks, I wouldn't have believed you. But that's why I'm sitting here and not next to the Bat phone in the Bat cave, er, I mean, draft room.

Al from Green Bay, WI

It should be a lesson to all of us who seek insights on the NFL news of the day. The pundits had J.J. Watt landing in Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Cleveland or Tampa Bay. They had "pegged" his market value at $6-8 million/year. Swing. And miss. What is Watt's real market value? The highest number a team is willing to pay him. Which teams are in contention for his services? The teams that are willing to pay top dollar. Thanks for resisting the urge to speculate on these things.

You're welcome.

Tyler from Calhoun, GA

In a situation like there is now with Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson, the home team holds all the leverage over teams wanting to trade for the players. At what point does the home club start to lose some of its bargaining power?

When the QB starts holding out in training camp, fines be damned.

Mark from Minneapolis, MN

Mike, relatively new news, but it sounds like "roughing the QB" is getting a review as a reviewable penalty? Do you think this potential review is an isolated scenario based on the importance of the QB position, or could it be a stepping stone to eventual reviews of targeting/head shots? You have been a huge advocate of reviewing roughing, in general, and am interested in your review of the potential review. Looking forward to reviewing your thoughts.

Yes, I've long been an advocate of using replay review for safety-related rules. In that vein, it seems shortsighted to me to make sure you're going to get RTP correct but not apply the same standard to, for example, the defenseless receiver. Big picture, I don't want to see endless reviews from New York, so the "sky judge" concept in each stadium continues to sound more and more appealing.

Shilo from Murrieta, CA

Mike, you know how Beckett trading card magazines used to have base prices for common players as well as minor stars? To me it feels like every time I open nfl.com I'm getting another minor star trading card, with all of the releases going on right now. Didn't Gutey say something about the best values being the mid-level veterans this year? They are getting released all over the league for sure.

This was predictable. Less predictable, as of now, are the prices at which they can be had.

Randy from Westminster, CO

As Vic used to say, instead of spending big bucks on J.J. Watt in free agency, find the next J.J. Watt in the draft. Which always made sense to me, though drafting isn't an exact science. Of what you know about players available, is there the potential for the Packers to draft the next J.J. Watt to shore up the defensive line?

Probably not at No. 29. Watt was a No. 11 overall pick. The track record over the last decade of finding high-impact defensive linemen late in the first round isn't great. Though five years ago, the Packers did get Kenny Clark at No. 26, and five years before that, the Saints got Cam Jordan at No. 24 and the Steelers got Cam Heyward at No. 31, so it has happened.

Darren from Wakefield, MI

Hey Mike, I guess I was poor in college. In rich man's Euchre is there table talk and stealing of the deal there, too?

Ha, the "poor man's" reference had nothing to with what we were wagering (which was usually nothing), but the level of simplicity vs. sophistication of Euchre vs. sheepshead, which have similar foundations. As for your question, table talk was absolutely forbidden and imminently punishable, and there's really no stealing of the deal in sheepshead. But the latter was encouraged in both Euchre and cribbage if you could get away with it.

Shannon from Ovilla, TX

Spoff, you are talking about Euchre, cribbage, and sheepshead but you look forward to Steak-n-Shake in Indianapolis? As a person who grew up in the hometown of Culver's, and playing all three games, I am disappointed in this response. Surely/Shirley you have to miss something more.

Oh, don't misunderstand. There's a Culver's just a mile from my house.

Brian from Chesapeake, VA

Just how many baskets of chips did you and Wes go through? Sounds epic.

We'll leave that as part of the legend. Happy Friday.