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Inbox: There are numerous candidates

Plus a list of former Packers in the AAF


Randy from Mukwonago, WI

Years ago it was stated in this column if you wanted a question printed ask better questions. "Tell us about your puppy"? Really? You guys have become too smarmy! I'm going to go throw up now. Don't bother responding I'm done reading you guys. You've been banned.

But I just got back. Where's that Lombardi hologram when I need it?

Ken from Wells, MI

What is the biggest focus for the Packers in the NFL Draft?

Finding good players. There, everything feels normal again.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Welcome back, Mike. What was the highlight of your time off?

Opening the Inbox on Sunday night to read how everyone's trying to figure out what you've got on Wes to make him publish your questions all the time. Other than that, the beach and my book were wonderful.

Bill from Raleigh, NC

Hi Mike, I'm not sure you're aware of what's been going on while you've been gone, but Wes's wife is part of the II response team now, and neither Wes nor his wife nor the II readership has suggested a good overtime solution. Here's mine: though I'd like this to be true for all the game, add one rule for OT field goals ... FGs cannot be longer than 40 yards. In that way, the kicking team really gained some yards to get down the field or there was a turnover.

Sounds like I need to ask my wife how to fix overtime.

Maggie from Kenosha, WI

Has the league explored international preseason games? I'm curious what fans would think. I know I'd be disappointed going to a Packers game where Aaron Rodgers was a healthy scratch, but it seems like a way to explore different markets without the travel during a high-stakes stretch of the regular season. I wonder if preseason games would lead the league to explore other markets/countries.

I know the Packers had that Tokyo game about 20 years ago, but the league has acknowledged the preseason is not its best product, so I don't think it would want to employ that product in an effort to grow.

Packers CB Jaire Alexander celebrates his birthday on Feb. 9.

Kate from Ravena, NY

Gotta say I like the AAF so far. I love having football to watch during the offseason! Since I don't have any particular cheering interest for these southern cities, do you know if any of the AAF teams have former Packers or Badgers on their rosters?

I'm sure I didn't catch them all, but in perusing the rosters for former Packers (though not all those listed here were on a Green Bay 53), I saw the names Jhurell Pressley and Carl Bradford for Arizona, Montay Crockett and Donatello Brown for Atlanta, Beniquez Brown and Ryan White for Birmingham, Rajion Neal for Memphis, Charles Johnson, LaDarius Gunter, and Jordan McCray (Justin's brother) for Orlando, Joel Bouagnon, Austin Davis, Chris Odom and Greer Martini for Salt Lake, and Marquise Williams, Joey Mbu and Jayrone Elliott for San Antonio. San Diego was the only team without a Packers name I recognized, and Austin Traylor for Salt Lake is the only former Badger I came across.

Bryan from Madison, WI

So the AAF huh? I just don't understand.

I'm glad there's an opportunity out there for players to continue and/or resurrect their pro football careers, but whether it's economically viable as a spectator sport over the long haul remains to be seen. As a fan, I know I need to move on to different sports at different times of the year, but the early reviews were positive.

Dale from Wilton, WI

How much do agents and teams talk right now about re-signing soon-to-be free agents? Or do they wait for the legal time to compare interest and offers from other teams?

At this point, unless his current team blows him away with an offer, a player is likely to test the market and find out what he's worth. Knowing that, teams often are inclined to let that market define itself rather than take a guess.

Jackson from Sydney, Australia

I can tell you as a passionate Green Bay supporter who rarely misses a game and someone who works on the front line of mental health in Australia, coffee is essential. But the most important thing is you just ready yourself for a very slow Monday, especially after a loss.

On which line do website writers fall?

Dave from Sparta, WI

When did the position label of "edge" become standard? We used to have defensive ends and outside linebackers, but now we simply have "edge." Reading through some mock drafts, I see three of the top five picks to be "edge" players...and five of the top 12. Is this truly a position so deep, or a product of some huge individual success recently in the NFL and others doing the copy-cat thing.

I see it as just a label to differentiate outside pass rushers from off-the-ball outside linebackers. Those players can have similar height-weight dimensions but very different job descriptions.

Hank from Cabot, AR

What are your thoughts about Kevin Durant's comments about the media needing to "grow up"?

I can appreciate Durant's frustration with the constant media speculation about his future when he's in the middle of a season. I think no sport focuses on players' and teams' futures more than the NBA, and it's a byproduct of a league that begins each year with barely 20-25 percent of its teams as legitimate title contenders. The rest are always focused on the future, so the media follow suit.

Aaron from Maryville, MO

Who will be our next great coach?

I guess some NFL fans focus on nothing but the future as well.

Philip from O'Fallon, IL

Are the Packers going to make a bid to host an NFL Draft?

Yes, for early next decade.

John from Sheboygan, WI

Who do you look to make the biggest jump this next year in production? My first thought is Josh Jackson.

There are numerous candidates, including Jackson. I also see possibilities for King, Lancaster and Burks on defense, any one of a handful of receivers on offense, and Scott on special teams.

Annette from Hoedspruit, South Africa

Having dragged my husband to a London pub at midnight to watch the Pack lose to the Giants and woken at 6 a.m. in Chang Mai, Thailand, to walk to the only restaurant showing the game to see them lose to the 49ers, both in the playoffs, I can honestly say that South Africa is the worst place to watch the NFL. It's almost impossible to find coverage here. I've missed the last two Super Bowls because of it.

I know the world is different now, but an indelible memory of my college semester in Spain was seeing Joe Carter's Game 6 homer off Mitch Williams live at like 5 a.m., all by my lonesome. I didn't care who won, but it was the first World Series in my lifetime to end on a walk-off homer. Given the setting, I might have been the only person within something like a 10,000-mile radius who cared about the sports history made at that moment. It was a rather surreal feeling.

Dan from Prescott, AZ

With Aaron Jones locked in at back and Jimmy Graham at tight end, the question is, which one of the WRs will step up and be the MAN opposite Adams?

I don't know, but I like the fact there are multiple options.

Dennis from Wisconsin Rapids, WI

Wes's reply to the Madison question led me into two other questions. If I may double down: 1) Since he's signed but didn't report, am I correct in assuming his salary doesn't count against the salary cap? 2) If he were to report to camp, am I correct in assuming the Packers would have him for the full length of the contract and that the year(s) he missed wouldn't shorten the commitment to the Packers?

Yes and yes.

Ryan from Plymouth, MN

I was born in '95, so I don't have actual memories of the Favre Super Bowl or the Freeman catch, but I just wanted to weigh in regarding spectacular Packers moments. There were a few memorable plays in the 2010 Super Bowl, but I'll always remember the Greg Jennings touchdown where he caught it over the middle and then got blown up by Troy Polamalu about half a second later. To make the catch, take that hit, and hold on to the football in that situation was nothing short of heroic.

The Packers have made some tremendously difficult TD catches in their Super Bowl appearances (McGee in I, Freeman and Chmura in XXXII, also Nelson in XLV) but the Jennings one might have been the toughest of them all.

Andy from Clive, IA

All of this reminiscing of touchdowns pulled one of my favorites as a kid from the memory bank. Snowy December in Milwaukee, Favre throws a bomb to Sharpe, but Sharpe didn't know where the end zone was. No championship was on the line that day, but that '92 season was the beginning of the franchise turnaround. Do you have a favorite touchdown?

Yes, but it's not a Packers one. Illinois at Wisconsin, 1982, the "Oh my" play, Wright to Toon to Nault. My all-time favorite, and the Badgers didn't even win the game.

Paul from Beaver Dam, WI

Fackrell, Martinez and Lowry all earned raises because they all qualified for something called the "proven performance escalator." Could you please explain what that is?

It's a stipulation that allows for a fourth-year player, originally drafted in the third round or later, to get his salary boosted to the lowest restricted free agent tender for that season. A player qualifies by playing 35 percent of his team's offensive or defensive snaps in any two of his first three seasons, or 35 percent in aggregate over all three years. Morrison also qualified.

Darin from Madisonville, KY

Wes mentioned in an answer that he has other passions outside of football. Just curious, what are some of your other hobbies when you are away? I love to play poker, hit the links, and also am an avid bowler.

I did my share of golf and bowling years ago, but my competitive outlet is racquetball now. I also love to read. Otherwise, I'm doing whatever my family is doing.

Tom from Palatine, IL

What do you think about baseball and football's need to attempt to shorten games to better match the limited attention span of today's fans? Part of baseball's charm has always been the lack of a clock (depending upon who is pitching may go two or four hours) and football has always been roughly 3 1/2 hours but can't go beyond that even if it takes extra time to get the call correct (yet everyone wants to get the call correct). They appear to be trying to perfect something that is simply imperfect.

Nobody's trying to perfect anything with regard to game length, but minimizing down time is a laudable goal. The idea being discussed in baseball about having a pitch clock with no one on base seems like a no-brainer to me.

Bruce from Bloomington, IL

Butkus the dog. I was at a home game years ago and Ray Nitschke was set up in the parking lot doing a Wisconsin Lottery booth. People had a chance to throw a football at a target and win a lottery ticket. Ray was there by himself, just having fun with the fans and telling stories, handing out tickets. I asked him about his friendship with Dick B. Without hesitation and in his gruff voice, "I got a dog named Butkus. I go home and kick him every day." Memories make us rich. He was a treasure.

Rocky named his dog Butkus, too.

James from Racine, WI

What's next for the Packers?

Our road trip to Indy for the combine is in 15 days.

Karen from Wilmette, IL

How much more snow are you expecting on Monday?

I'm not sure, but the storm has a name. That usually counts for something.

Eddie from La Crosse, WI

Wes the Wise, you said, "There were way too many folks abusing the privilege." You just described the cause of almost every problem in the world today. Have you ever considered running for political office? Or perhaps becoming a Tibetan guru, with pilgrims climbing snowy mountains to beg an audience with you?

Wes did a bang-up job in my absence, no doubt, but now he's up for elected office and wilderness worship? That's it, I'm heading for the fridge early today. Happy Monday, everyone.