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Inbox: The true litmus test is always what happens on the grass

Managing expectations is half the battle in this business

LB Quay Walker, DL Devonte Wyatt and DL Kenny Clark
LB Quay Walker, DL Devonte Wyatt and DL Kenny Clark

Roger from Lakewood Ranch, FL

Good morning, Wes. Spoff announced that he will be "back late next week" (meaning this week). Even though we are in the "dead zone," we all know what happens when he is gone. What is your guess as to what the big announcement will be this time?

I would say Jordan Love and Ronika Stone got a head start on one big announcement Sunday. Congrats to the newly engaged couple. Their photos brought an immediate smile to my face. Wishing them a lifetime of happiness together.

Mike from Baraboo, WI

Which games are you most looking forward to watching?

Brazil will be fun. I did the math Friday and Arena Corinthians will be the 38th stadium in which I've covered an NFL game. In the United States, I still need to check off Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis (though I have been there for the NFL Scouting Combine), NRG Stadium in Houston and SoFi in Los Angeles, which I'll see in October good lord willing. Not traveling in 2012 and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 caused me to miss the Indianapolis/Houston rotations. But yeah, I'm becoming increasingly pumped for Brazil.

Tim from Fayetteville, NC

Who was the first GBP player to win the NFL Defensive Player of the Year?

The Associated Press award has twice honored Packers defenders: Reggie White in 1998 and Charles Woodson in 2009. Former Packers defensive end Bryce Paup also won the award while with Buffalo in 1995.

Lee from Hollister, MO

With the talk of 18-game schedules again, would it work to give three rostered players mandatory one game off per regular season? Move the roster to 54 players and one regular-season game where three players cannot play. It would cause some interesting strategy for coaching and keep players at a 17-game schedule.

I've spoken on this in previous Inboxes. The last thing the NFL wants to do is get in a "load management" situation with star players. Fans pay big money, especially in major markets, to watch their favorites play. You can't rob them of that unless players truly are not cleared for health-related reasons. You want a break? Win as many of those 17 or 18 games as possible to clinch a No. 1 seed and decide from there whether to rest players. But the league shouldn't mandate it.

George from North Mankato, MN

Good morning Inboxers. You found the genie in the lamp, and they grant you one position group to keep healthy throughout the season. Which one do you select and why?

Quarterback, right? For obvious reasons. So, let's dig a little deeper. My next pick would be cornerback. Jaire Alexander may be Green Bay's most irreplaceable defender. Carrington Valentine and Corey Ballentine did well to stem the tide last year, but losing Alexander changed the complexion of the defense and what the Packers could do schematically. Beyond just Alexander, Green Bay wants to see what Eric Stokes can do when healthy and available for an entire season. Valentine looks like a late-round gem, as well. I'd also expect Keisean Nixon to take another step in the nickel after his first full year as a "starter" in 2023.

Jason from Austin, TX

I saw that the Packers Instagram released the Green Bay Packers Ultimate Sandwiches book from the players, but I didn't see hot dogs or ice-cream sandwiches listed anywhere so I started to question the validity of the book. That is until I read Carrington Valentine's ultimate sandwich of "bread," and my hope was restored.

Valentine may be the most effortlessly hilarious person to stroll through the Packers' locker room during my time on the beat. Also, a tip of the cap to Lauren Anderson for her extensive work on that project. It has been a huge hit.

Barton from Tulum, Mexico

My hopes are high, and my confidence, is solid. So many 2024 playoff teams, many of whom have a legitimate chance, have new coordinators on offense or defense. Please comment...

Just like fans, every returning playoff team is riding high with the belief that it made the right moves to take the next step to the ultimate goal in 2024. But managing expectations is half the battle in this business. That's why Matt LaFleur always talks about the Packers needing to earn it over and over again. Green Bay feels good about the direction it's heading on defense, but the true litmus test is always what happens on the grass. This group – players and coaches alike – is ready to tackle that challenge head-on.

Darrel from Pueblo, CO

II, the QB pay scale seems to be an entity unto itself. Teams negotiate contracts for others based on performance, injury status and availability, yet it seems QBs get paid because they are QBs. Case in point, would you rather have Trevor Lawrence as your QB or Patrick Mahomes for several million dollars less?

The devil is in the details, Darrel. Based on the reported numbers, Mahomes' cap number won't actually be less than Lawrence's until 2028 when Mahomes' dips to $32.6 million and Lawrence's jumps to $47 million. Remember Mahomes' cap hit spikes to $66 million next year due to his 2023 restructure. It'll stay north of that for the next three seasons unless the contract is tweaked/extended.

James from Dover, NH

In reply to Clipton from Pasadena, CA, and his concern about a QB taking up 20% of the cap. He needs to become familiar with Over the Cap and see what players are actually making. At no point in the next four years is Trevor taking up more than 11.1% of the cap. Cap management is apparently one of the dark arts.

If I've said it once, I've said it at least four times…the pen used for these megadeals is notorious for its elasticity.

Nathan from Williamstown, MA

Earlier this offseason, one of the Packers' UDFAs, Trente Jones, retired from football, but the Packers never filled his roster spot. Do we know if the retirement could have just been a procedural move to give Jones time to get his health issues resolved, and he could return at some point this season? Or has Gutey just not seen anyone worth pulling the trigger for the last roster spot?

I have no update on Jones other than it looks like he's living his best life right now – and good for him doing that. As far as the roster spot, I assumed the Packers were keeping that open to sign a possible UFL free agent. They obviously weren't going to carry four kickers on the roster for training camp, so it made sense to let Jack Podlesny go when they reportedly claimed James Turner off waivers.

Samuel from Skokie, IL

What can you tell us about the new kicker, James Turner from Michigan? Detroit had him in camp, and beat writers were saying he was very accurate, and the Lions may have made a mistake cutting him. They really liked that UFL prospect that the Packers were reported to be interested in. From what I read, Turner could make a difference.

Nothing is official until it's official but credit the Packers for not getting complacent in their kicking search. Brian Gutekunst saw an opportunity to get better and moved on it. A native of Saline, Mich., Turner kicked four years at Louisville before returning home in 2023. In his one season at Michigan, Turner made three field goals from 50 yards and established a new single-season record with 65 converted point-after attempts. He had a shaky 2021 campaign at Louisville (14-of-22) but still made 81.3% of his field goals in college. To win these jobs, specialists mostly need a chip and a chair. Turner now appears to have both.

Jeremiah from Fitchburg, WI

I read on PFT that teams can now place players on IR before/during cutdown and now be eligible for playing that season instead of it being an instant lost year. If true, I think that's great!

That's the right call, too. I get the league didn't want teams "stashing" players, but teams were still finding ways around it (e.g. the Packers cutting Matt Orzech last year and re-signing him one day later because he was a veteran not susceptible to waivers). This cuts through the red tape.

Steve from Hurricane, UT

Chris from Weston asked Mike about the green dots on Friday, "If all helmets had it on offense and defense, would it not be 'fair.'" Wouldn't more ability to pass communications eliminate homefield advantage and take the fans out of the game? Wouldn't you hope the NFL would be against that?

Even if it were possible, good luck getting every headset to function like it's supposed to for an entire game. It would be a nightmare.

Steve from Rhinelander, WI

Regarding Caleb from Knoxville's heritage question, I disagree with including the Cowboys. Compared to the Packers, Bears, Steelers, and Giants, Dallas is a Johnny come lately expansion team.

I don't think there's a right or wrong answer to this, but I would've gone with the Bears, Giants and Steelers. Those three teams, and the Packers, are the first ones to come to mind whenever people say the letters: N-F-L.

Bruce from Lakewood, CO

Gents: Interesting question about teams that have had the most impact and significance. I'm not a fan of them, but I would put the Raiders in that group.

If you throw in the AFL, the Raiders also would be high on my list. Given that's where Ron Wolf got his start, I've always viewed the Raiders as in-laws to the modern-day Packers.

Mike from Granite City, IL

Referencing David from Janesville, WI, I think Mike (or Wes) should throw out the first ball at a Brewers game. That way we can actually see them throw something out besides submissions.


Scott from Sauk City, WI

Ahmad Rashad? The "NBA Inside Stuff" guy? Used to play football? Man, I'm old.

I remember the first time I realized that (many years ago). I was stunned – not that Ahmad Rashad played football but the fact he was a four-time Pro Bowler and considered one of the greatest players in Minnesota Vikings history.

Sue from Three Lakes, WI

When will the questions for the Outsider Inbox be posted? Do you post all the questions at one time or one at a time? When do you run with it?

Funny you ask…today is indeed the official unveiling of the 2024 Outsider Inbox questions. I want to get a head start on this year's column, so I'm posting these now. Responses will be posted over five columns from July 2-8. Please continue submitting regular Inbox questions this week, as well. The traditional column will continue through next Monday, July 1, and return Tuesday, July 9. And here are the questions!

Tuesday, July 2

Who is your dark horse candidate for Packers breakout player in 2024?

What piece of football knowledge have you gained from Insider Inbox that has most increased your enjoyment/appreciation of the game?

Wednesday, July 3

What two individuals (player, coach, or GM) made the most impact on you as a fan and why? (Erwin from Albany, GA)

What's your most regrettable posted Ask Vic/II question or comment? I know I have a few I wish I could take back. (Shilo from Wildomar, CA)

Thursday, July 4

How has a Packers game impacted a noteworthy event in your life? (Dar from Mansfield, TX)

What would you like to see at the 2025 NFL Draft?

Friday, July 5

In which stadium(s) have you seen a Packers game and what was the final result? (Dan from Tallahassee, FL)

If you could sit in the stands and relive an old Packers game, which one would you pick and why? Regular season and playoff. (Ferdinand from Woodbury, MN)

Monday, July 8

Tell us about your experience randomly meeting a Packers player in the NFL offseason in another country. (Joe from Hampshire, IL)

What is the best part of being an NFL owner (We're referring to YOU, not Jerry Jones)?

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