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Inbox: The upside is there

LB Oren Burks
LB Oren Burks

John from Jacksonville, NC

With everything almost said and done, what do you think the Packers' chances are for this coming season?

Everything almost said and done, you say? Oh, sweet summer child. We’ve only just begun. Good morning!

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Welcome back, Wes. Quiet week, you didn't miss much... Seriously, where were you and what were you doing when the news (times four) broke Tuesday?

I was eating pancakes with son and nephews who were on spring break. Before I left for “vacation,” I seem to recall telling anxious fans, “You can walk loudly or walk softly – you still get to the same place.” Funny how things work out sometimes.

Luke from West Newbury, MA

I haven't heard anyone talk about the lack of depth behind Blake Martinez at inside linebacker. Please enlighten us with your great fire of knowledge.

Well, that great fire of knowledge you reference is probably the size of the pilot light in your water heater. At any rate, I think you sell the depth at inside linebacker short. There are some open spots, but Oren Burks is a young, athletic player. The upside is there. Remember Martinez wasn’t a finished product as a rookie, either. I’d also bet the Packers don’t go the entire offseason without adding another player or two.

Markys from Madison, WI

How much of an upgrade is Adrian Amos?

Significant. I know some pundits have taken issue with Amos only having three INTs over the past two seasons, but picks aren’t the only metric for judging safeties, particularly in this defense. It’s the linchpin for Mike Pettine’s scheme. Amos is intelligent, sound in his assignments and only 26. Plus, never underestimate a guy playing with a chip on his shoulder. Amos most certainly brings that edge to the field.

Chris from Madison, WI

If the season started today and Randall Cobb was not on the team, which young Packers WR would be best in the slot position?

Equanimeous St. Brown seems the most natural of the three draft picks from last year in the middle of the field.

Chris from Madison, WI

Prior to FA, most mock drafts had the Packers taking a pass rusher. However, it seems the Packers’ potential pick at that spot is truly now a mystery. Does this prevent potential trade partners from guessing their 'hand,’ increasing the chance of enticing a deal similar to the one made with the Saints last year, and garnering yet another future first-rounder?

It keeps the league guessing. I’m not saying the Packers wouldn’t still consider an edge rusher at No. 12, but it’s not as pressing of a need as it was a week ago. In the end, everything depends on how the board falls April 25 and what’s available when the Packers go on the clock.

Brian from Ridgefield, CT

Any chance Clay Matthews re-signs to play ILB with the departure of Jake Ryan? I would prefer to sign Zach Brown, but I know that's not likely.

I don’t think one has anything to do with the other. If the Packers re-sign Matthews, it’ll be for everything he brings to the defense – not just the position he plays.

Karl from Fort Collins, CO

6-9-1 was very disappointing, but five games could have been swung by a few points: MN1 - 3, LA - 3, Seattle - 7, AZ - 7, MN2 10. While that is a cherry-picking analysis, it could also suggest that this team does not have to climb Mt. Everest to get back to the playoffs. Some of those games might have been won with just good ST play. There's a lot of work to be done between now and opening day, but is it wrong to think that some optimism is justified?

The Eagles were 7-9 in 2016 during Doug Pederson’s first year before going 13-3 and winning Super Bowl LII. Sometimes it only takes a season to turn everything around.

Jay from Saint Paul, MN

In regards to everyone saying Ted Thompson never did these types of signings, that's true, but us as fans don’t see the whole picture. Maybe Ted never saw a FA who could help our team for as long as the contract. Those few big names he did sign were productive for the length of their contracts. Can we stop the TT hate until we look at everything? As a Packers GM, you need to look at more than just productivity. We have a high character standard here and maybe Ted didn't find young guys who fit.

People forget what Thompson built in Green Bay. The Packers hit on a lot of draft picks during TT’s prime years, which kept them out of the market for the top free agents. However, he had a better track record than he gets credit for when dipping into free agency – Charles Woodson, Ryan Pickett, Julius Peppers and Jared Cook to name a few.

Jim from Woodbury, MN

Which recently signed free agent will have the biggest immediate impact for Green Bay?

The Packers signed four ascending players whose best football is ahead of them, but Za’Darius Smith looks like the real deal. As Jay alluded to in the previous question, it’s not every year the Packers sign perhaps the most coveted free agent at his position. Smith is coming off a career year and only has been playing this sport for like eight years. His versatility should fit Mike Pettine’s defense perfectly.

Jason from Wabeno, WI

I hope I wasn't the only one who smiled at the end of the interview with Amos. Such a good feeling seeing a guy so excited to help people and give back. Good dude. Skill aside, does that moment help shine a light on the culture the Packers want in the locker room?

I came away impressed with all of the new additions. Za’Darius definitely was the most gregarious, but all four represented themselves well and left a good first impression with the media, I felt.

Darrell from San Antonio, TX

Wes, with the upcoming draft I have a question about evaluating value of a pick and what determines your decision to move up or down. What I mean is if we have a chance to trade our two first-round picks to move up to the Raiders' spot (if they're willing) and select a guy such Josh Allen or Quinnen Williams who may be perennial All-Pros or stay put and get two players who are 10-year starters what would determine what you do in that situation? Glad it's not me making the call.

Those calls test a GM’s moxie and skills as a talent evaluator because it pulls at his convictions? To me, Thompson moving back into the first round in 2009 and taking Clay Matthews was the ultimate sign of fortitude. You’re relinquishing valuable assets for a player you feel won’t be available where you’re picking. Fortunately for Green Bay, Matthews was a home run and the rest was history.

Dan from Rice Lake, WI

I sure hope Mike is correct re "Alexander-King pairing" being one of the best strengths of our defense, even given recent FA signings, but I don't see it. Kevin King clearly has potential, great measureables, but he's played only 15 games in two years. Availability is a crucial ability. Falling in love with potential risks, losing sight of production. I’d love to see King prove me wrong, and Mike right, in 2019 and beyond.

Two seasons don’t make a career. Casey Hayward and Davante Adams are proof of that. Year 3 will be critical for King, though. He needs to put his best foot forward in 2019.

Jamie from Rhinelander, WI

To me, the best thing about free agents is getting to see Family Night! I can’t wait for them to see it, since they’ve been on other teams and there’s nothing like it.

Family Night is a terrific experience for veteran additions and rookies alike, but there also are a handful of guys each year who don’t have anyone at the event, so they stick around the locker room a little longer than most. I approached one of those veterans a few years ago and asked, “(Player who shall remain nameless), are you gonna go check out the fireworks?” His response: “Nah, I ain’t about that life.” One of my personal highlights on the beat.

Collin from Omaha, NE

Thank you to II for distracting me while my state becomes one big lake. What do you think about taking an Iowa TE at No. 12 and Bryan Bulaga’s heir apparent at 30, knowing that the pick (hopefully) won’t play this year?

The Packers shouldn’t feel pressure to draft for need, so maybe the Iowa tight ends could make sense. What I’m not on board with is this idea of pushing Bulaga out the door. The guy is still only 30, and before you bring up injuries, Mark Tauscher and Chad Clifton played through a lot during their careers, too. If there’s a versatile guy available who projects as a future starting lineman, go for it – but that has nothing to do with the situation at right tackle in my opinion.

Dale from Prescott, WI

Does the “Performance-Based Pay” bonus Martinez and the others received go towards this year’s cap?

No. It’s written into the collective bargaining agreement. All 32 teams disperse the same amount of money to players who out-perform their contract based on playing time.

Jim from Appleton, WI

John from Clintonville suggested a youth movement in the league, but I don't see it as targeting youth. Wade Phillips? Andy Reid? Bill Belichick? These guys are not young, but they're innovators. That's what teams look for. Can you continuously implement new ideas, schemes, and techniques for a competitive advantage, or do you bang your head against a wall trying to force an old, stale concept to work? Age is just a number.

Exactly. Vic Fangio didn’t get the Broncos’ head job because he graduated last fall. Fangio won over John Elway with how he continually evolved his scheme to fashion two of the NFL’s top defenses over the past 20 years in San Francisco and Chicago, both of which were near-complete rebuilds.

Dan from Tomah, WI

Hey guys. I've done about 15-20 mock drafts where I'm the GM at the Packers' current picks. I have to say, the possibilities this year are endless. I'm excited to see how this draft falls.

I tend to agree. The NFL Draft could very well be the Packers’ oyster at No. 12 with all these highly-regarded prospects at the top of the first round.

Derrick from Rockaway, NJ

Are you aware if Muhammad Wilkerson is currently rehabbing in Green Bay? If so, I think it would indicate that they are most likely re-signing him, but waiting for him to get healthy.

Wilkerson was in Green Bay during the early part of the offseason, but that’s not atypical for players coming off serious injuries – especially in Wilkerson’s case, with his ankle surgeon, Bob Anderson, now residing in Green Bay. Per the CBA, I believe players with expiring contracts are allowed to train at team facilities until a week or so before the start of the new league year.

Ryan from Hartland, WI

What has been the most surprising trade so far aside from OBJ?

While not one compares to OBJ, I was somewhat surprised to see Cleveland ship Kevin Zeitler to New York and Miami dispatch Ryan Tannehill to Tennessee.

Jeff from Ripon, WI

Would the Packers consider trading a third-round pick for Josh Rosen? I think it would help Rosen like it did Rodgers to sit for a year or two and then step in.

Aaron Rodgers is 35 and signed through 2023. Moving forward, I think this is going to be my standard reply to these questions about finding QB1’s replacement.

Ed from Wisconsin Rapids, WI

Good morning II. Faithful reader from the Vic days to now you guys. When a player decides to retire as a Packer, how does that work? Does he need the team’s agreement? Does he go back and get paid for one day so his last paycheck is from that team. Maybe a retirement party? Or a T-shirt?

Players occasionally sign a contract and are placed on a team’s reserve/retired list. I think the Steelers did that with Jerome Bettis years ago. Today, it’s become more common to hold a ceremonial retirement news conference to welcome a beloved player back into the family.

Al from New Franken, WI

While there’s plenty to write about for the current roster, do you want to write about former players in a ‘What ever happened to’ fashion? So many training-camp darlings and guys with great short runs with the team. I’ve always wanted to hear more on how their careers and lives have gone since their Packers days.

Do I want to? Sure, but there are only so many hours in the day and I have to go home at some point. If you ever have a question about a former player, though, I’ll do my best to answer it.

Matt from Waukesha. WI

I've always said if I were to buy a Packer jersey, it would be a John Kuhn jersey. Do the Packers re-release a player’s jersey when they retire?

I don’t think so, but I guess you could try ordering a custom jersey through the Pro Shop if you really, really need one.

Jeff from Black River Falls, WI

Just wondering guys...when these newbies come in to town for the first time, do the Packers arrange temporary quarters for them and/or and their families until they return to actually find living quarters for themselves? Thanks....just wondering!!!

The team puts them and theirs up in a hotel (in most cases).

Michael from Manitowoc, WI

If D.K. Metcalf is available when the Pack picks at No. 12, do you think that's a good pick?

I think that’s a “strong” pick. Get it? He did 27 bench reps. I’ll see myself out.

Joel from Shawano, WI

Having experienced my own flooded basement, my heart truly goes out that many homes flooded. It is truly an emotional time.

I can tell you firsthand there is no more helpless feeling than walking down your stairs and seeing water pushing out from under the door. My sympathies to all of those affected in the Green Bay area over the past week.

Rick from Sterling, CO

In reference to Justin from Ames: I believe that Spoff would still be stealing Wes’ lunch if he got that huge pay bump. Some things in life are done for the sheer joy of it.

I have no doubt about it. Have a great Monday, world.

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