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Inbox: There's a lot to figure out in the next 50 days

Let’s mix it up a little, NFL schedule-makers

Packers right tackle Bryan Bulaga
Packers right tackle Bryan Bulaga

Duane from Oak Creek, WI

What is your favorite part of the combine?

Seeing all the coaches and scouts out and about Indianapolis. Jerry Jones and his entourage walked right past my table at Prime 47 on Wednesday night. All in all, it was a good trip. Good morning!

Bruce from Bloomington, IL

Seeing a number of teams have multi-year runs at Super Bowl competitiveness, the ability to draft someone much lower than their eventual contributions is a difference-maker. Tom Brady and Russell Wilson stand out. Even Aaron Rodgers drafted lower than projected and Brett Favre in the second round. Don't miss on the first day, but hitting a winning lottery ticket in later rounds had the same effect of adding a virtual $10 million to your cap number. Keeping your low picks is stocking up on lottery tix.

That's why I say Bakhtiari belongs in the conversation as one of the best draft picks in franchise history – a fourth-round selection who became an All-Pro at a premium position. It doesn't get much better than that. Look at the roster of any perennial contender. Chances are they have a late-round pick or two contributing in a big way.

David from Appleton, WI

Hello Insiders. We know who the Packers' opponents are and Mark Murphy has asked for several weeks of non-Lambeau games. There hasn't been a meaningful late-December game at Lambeau for several years. What are the chances Green Bay has meaningful games in late December at Lambeau? Or is there a league bias against outdoor games in northern climates in late December?

They better have one. I have only two requests for the 2020 schedule – closing the regular season at home and make the game against either Chicago or Minnesota. Enough with the Lions already. Let's mix it up a little, NFL schedule-makers.

Tom from Woodbury, MN

Happy Monday! This is going to be a very interesting start to free agency. Last year turned out to be exciting, but Brian Gutekunst surprised us all. This year, we have our own with Bryan Bulaga and Blake Martinez. Some interesting names have been connected with the Packers (Hooper and Schobert). We also have Kenny Clark and Aaron Jones for future contracts. This year's cap is unknown, and what effect the new CBA will have. If BG doesn't get his initial guys, does he try to pick up our own? Lots of moving parts. Buckle up.

This has the makings of the most fascinating offseason the Packers have had in the last 20 years because there's a direct cause and effect to every move Green Bay makes (e.g. what re-signing 'Free Agent A' means for 'Free Agent B') and how the dust settles could affect the NFL Draft. The Packers can start their offseason program on April 20, so there's a lot to figure out in the next 50 days.

Bob from Wintersville, OH

CBS Sports showed the 40 times from 1986 to last year. All the athletes who had the best times never seemed to pan out as long-term outstanding stars in the league. Is too much emphasis put on these 40 times at certain positions?

It's an essential part of the job interview but probably not the be-all and end-all most make it out to be. Some players (like Chris Johnson) proved over time to be more than just an attractive 40 time. Others fall short because they aren't good enough with the Xs and Os. Natural speed is great but everything has to match up to really make it.

Jim from Woodbury, MN

Why are 40 times even tracked for DL and OL?

Two words – Terron Armstead.

Steve from Palm Springs, FL

Hi Wes, hope your combine week was informative and insightful. Looking forward to the draft and your coverage of it. The question is, did you hear anybody there use the phrase "high motor." If so, please don't use that term. Enjoy your work.

I noticed some sites using "high motor" to describe Neville Gallimore, the somewhat undersized Oklahoma defensive tackle. That phrase drives me nuts, too, but I guess it was accurate. You need a pretty good motor to haul 302 pounds 40 yards down the field in 4.79 seconds.

Mark from Cranston, RI

Gentlemen, I am a big Notre Dame Fighting Irish football fan and I was blow away by the speed of Chase Claypool at the NFL combine. Would you consider him the next Jimmy Graham?

At 6-4, 238, Claypool is not nearly as big as Graham but a 4.42 40 for a man of that size is impressive nonetheless. He's obviously a physical specimen but I'm curious to see how teams view Claypool at the next level. Regardless of where he lines up, Claypool certainly has the proper tools to be a matchup problem for defenses.

Take a look at photos of DL & LB prospects working out at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis on Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020.

Todd from Brighton, MI

Time to get big plate of poutine and grind more tape on Chase Claypool, eh?

And by the way, how about Canada churning out the NFL prospects as of late?

Mark from Ocala, FL

Watched the LBs run their 40-yard dashes and saw Isaiah Simmons from Clemson run 4.39, Wow! But then saw Kenneth Murray and another LB (LSU's Patrick Queen), tweak their hamstrings on their second run. What concern is that for teams and their draft board positioning?

Assuming it's not a complete tear, a soft-tissue injury is not a big deal for teams. That'll be healed up by the draft and shouldn't affect the draft stock of Murray or Queen. And Simmons' 40 was incredible for a linebacker. That young man just earned himself a lot of money.

Dave from Savage, MN

How cool would it be if Austin Jackson ended up wearing No. 71 for the Pack like his grandfather, Mel. Very good player and one of my favorites when the team wasn't very good.

The number is available…and it's not '88.' That's a plus.

Tom from New Berlin, WI

The talk about increasing the size of the roster to 55 does not seem fair. Why not increase it to 60 and then have 53 be able to be active? I have done a study that shows the majority of players get hurt between the six and eighth game. Perhaps creating a larger scout team, so a team would be able to activate 5-6 players at one time may make sense. What is your opinion?

Roster expansion is my favorite part of the new CBA, especially with the possibility of two extra game-day actives. I'm not hung up on firm 56- or 60-man rosters so much as the idea of empowering the practice squad. I'd like to see practice squads mirror minor-league baseball farm systems, where players can be brought up on a week-to-week basis.

William from Newburgh, IN

During the fast flow of an NFL game, how do the coaches communicate which players should be on the field? At times, both offensively and defensively, we see players shuttle in/out with only seconds to do so. With players strung out along the sidelines, are they watching certain position coaches?

Players know the game plan and their assignments. Depending on the call, Tramon Williams knows he's entering in the nickel (in most cases) and Chandon Sullivan in the dime. Beyond that, position coaches will handle the rotations to keep players fresh, especially upfront.

Brian from Alta Vista, IA

Was Antonio Gandy-Golden invited to the combine? I've been intrigued by him ever since James Jones put him on his top 10 wide receivers to pursue in free agency/2020 draft. He has quite the highlight reel even if he is from a smaller school.

Gandy-Golden was invited and I think the Liberty receiver helped his draft stock this past week. His 4.60-second time in the 40 probably won't knock you down like DK Metcalf's 4.33 but that's not bad for a 6-foot-4, 223-pound receiver. He put up 22 reps on the bench, too, which was second only to Quintez Cephus.

Garrett from Jonesboro, AR

Do you know if the Packers are high on Quintez Cephus? I watched about every Wisconsin game this past season and he popped on the screen a lot. Not to mention he went toe-to-toe with Jeffery Okudah in the Big 10 championship. He's a big body with a great release and strong hands. I think he could be a great pick if he falls into Rounds 4-7.

I don't know what the scouting department thinks of Cephus but he passed the eye test for this Packers employee. Okudah even went out of his way to praise Cephus during his media availability on Friday. The Wisconsin receiver had a good showing in the bench press and posted a solid vertical. He's someone to keep an eye on over this next month.

Jessi from Sterling, KS

You're so gracious for not banning Julian for suggesting changing one of the oldest NFL team's uniforms (and arguably one of the richest in NFL history). Especially since it appears he wants our team to look like bumble bees flying around, or like a copycat of the Steelers. However, this did get me thinking of what you would change about design in Packers uniform if you couldn't change the colors?

I'm pretty sure I'm in the minority here – but I loved the 1980s jerseys with the stripe and 'G' on the sleeves. I'd go back to that.

James from Mount Pleasant, WI

Is Jimmy Graham going to be a Packer this year?

Gutekunst didn't want to get into discussing potential free agents and roster decisions (like Graham) when he met with the Green Bay media corps last week. Regardless, we're two weeks from the start of the new league year. As I've been saying, those answers will come soon enough.

Tom from Douglassville, PA

So what is your gut feeling on the CBA passing?

I initially had reservations about it getting done this offseason but I'm starting to feel better about it. It looks like a favorable deal for lower- and mid-tier players who make up a majority of the league (increased minimum salaries, needing one fewer season to earn the pension). The only sticking point is where the PA stands on the 17th game.

Eric from Reedsburg, WI

I just heard Tony Romo is going to get $17 million a year to announce football games for CBS. He will now be making more money than when he played football. Is this the new dream for kids playing football to get to the pro level and hope get an announcing gig?

Some might say the dream is to play college football at Eastern Illinois and the rest is just extra credit.

In celebration of Leap Day, Bose and the Green Bay Packers offered 29 fans the opportunity to attempt a Lambeau Leap at Lambeau Field on Saturday, Feb.29.

George from North Mankato, MN

The stories of Mike Mamula and John Ross are well-known around combine time. Are there any players who saw their draft stock fall considerably as a result of the combine, only to prove people wrong with a great career?

Orlando Brown Jr.'s horrific performance in 2018 cost him dearly but he's since been voted to a Pro Bowl and started all 26 games he's played for Baltimore. Vontaze Burfict's 5.09 time in the 40 and Christian McCaffrey's 10 reps on the bench are two other letdowns that also come to mind.

Daniel from Delta, PA

After seeing that guy get nailed in the face during the gauntlet drill, I'm rethinking my laser obstacle course. Has anyone suffered any serious injury during the combine, be it football to the face or otherwise?

Poor Mitchell Wilcox. It happens. The only major injury suffered at the combine I can recall is Billy Price tearing his pectoral muscle while doing the bench press. But he still was ready for the start of the season. I'm sure there have been others.

Nate from Naples, FL

My wife is originally from Colombia, and she didn't follow football until we started dating. She's always shocked by the size and athleticism of the linemen. Weight-gain strategies like the one you recently posted about Ben Bartch (a "shake" of seven eggs, cottage cheese, bananas, Gatorade...) are some of her favorites. What's the wildest strategy for packing on the pounds you can recall hearing about?

Bartch's magic shake is up there but Larry recounting how he used to juice raw liver takes the cake. Disgusting, but the man did play 12 years in the NFL and made two Pro Bowls. He must have been doing something right.

Dan from Allen, TX

Regarding Paul's question on players drafted after the fourth round becoming All-Pro or MVP players: Willie Wood (RIP) was an UDFA out of SoCal, and I'm pretty sure he was an All-Pro at least a few times. He also had a really cool way of signing his autograph.

One of the best to ever do it. And yes, a one-of-a-kind autograph.

Pancho from Neshannock, PA

A personal note for Wes. Please accept my apology for a submission I placed last week. Though not my intention, it obviously came across as hateful nonsense. That's my fault. I can only imagine how much garbage you have to wade through to produce an entertaining and informative column. As a regular reader, I am grateful that the nonsense goes in the trash bin. If that's the way mine sounded, that's where it belonged.

You have nothing to apologize for. It was an honest and refreshing take. I understand the connection you feel. I actually had the chance to catch up a little with McCarthy before he took the podium in Indy last Wednesday. He seemed happy and at peace. It was great to see.

Elliot from Minneapolis, MN

How does a player's salary go against a team when traded? Do any bonuses go against the salary cap of the team who is trading him, and the rest of the contract goes to the team acquiring the player?

The prorated signing bonus left on the contract will count against the former team's cap. It's no different than cutting a player. The team that acquires the player is on the hook for the cap number derived from the base salary and whatever workout/roster bonuses remain on the deal.

Greg from Lady Lake, FL

Having retired out of state, I can't survive without my daily perusal of II. This year I received an extra day of bliss! On this great holiday (Lambeau Leap Day), it made me wonder: which player(s) hold the team record for most Lambeau leaps during their career(s)? Gentlemen, I am very grateful for your endeavors. Keep up the great work!

That is a fantastic question. My guess would be Donald Driver. That would be one heck of a research project if someone ever found the time to go back through all the past games on NFL Game Pass.

Gabor from Budapest, Hungary

Wes, as Mike is out of town, do you have the power to let John answer questions in II?

I barely have enough power to get into the building every Monday, let alone tell John Kuhn what to do. Also, I like how many of you think John is just sitting at a desk, waiting for me to give him something to do.

Gary from Bear Valley, WI

An hour after I read your response to my question, a bicyclist ran a red light as I entered the intersection. I laid on the horn. He gave me the bird. I said to my daughter, "There really are more birds than moons." That's for the multiple laughs.

Now just imagine what the reaction would've been if the bicyclist mooned you.