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Inbox: There's no reason to close the door

The coaches will dig into the roles they envision

TE Tucker Kraft
TE Tucker Kraft

Dennis from Parrish, FL

How much of that "free" coffee is charged against the cap?

It never ceases to amaze … the questions I come back to after a week off.

Mark from Bettendorf, IA

I second Cliff Christl for the Packers HOF. I've met him twice and both times he more than answered my questions. Like his column, he knows every detail of the information you ask for. And, he makes you feel like a long lost friend. What a gem.

When you add Cliff's work on the Packers Heritage Trail to his career as a journalist covering the team for which he now serves as historian, his candidacy deserves an immediate and extensive look.

Kent from Homosassa, FL

Regarding the question from Dusty of Pardeeville, would my friend Art Daley qualify?

Yes, Art was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 1993, three years prior to Lee Remmel. Art's time at the Press-Gazette dated back to the 1940s and he co-founded the Packers Yearbook in 1960.

Adilson from Rotterdam, Netherlands

Hey Mike, I hope you enjoyed your PTO. On Friday the NFL announced that the salary cap for 2024 will increase by 30.6 million compared to last year. Last year you explained that the owners decided to spread out the effects of COVID on the league revenue over four years (2021 through 2024) and that we would see what the "real" cap looks like in 2025. Does that timeline still apply and is this latest spike just an nice windfall, or has that timeline been moved up?

Unbeknownst to me, and apparently all the cap-ologists projecting a more modest $15-17M increase for '24, the Covid-related effects on the cap were accelerated by a year and got all wrapped up and settled between the owners and players in '23.

Lawrence from Missoula, MT

Guys, lots of talk about banning basketball fans from the court after big wins. How could that ever be enforced? Thankfully, we don't see fans rush the field too often in the NFL. Your thoughts?

Fans don't rush MLB and NFL fields because they're subject to prosecution and prohibitive fines. If the NCAA has to go that route to protect college athletes, then it should. I'll never forget the video footage from Camp Randall after the Michigan win in '93. It was horrifying. Anyone – athlete or fan – getting hurt by an out-of-control celebration is just not worth it.

Jeff from Montclair, VA

Another postseason, another potential change to the kicking-game rules. What do you make of the latest rumblings about adopting the XFL's kickoff rules?

I haven't studied the specifics, but the league must explore creative ideas if it wants the kickoff return to become part of the game again. The player-safety concerns have remained paramount, understandably so, but I'm glad the league seems open-minded about finding a reasonable adjustment.

Tom from Keota, IA

Hi II. In response to the Watson horse-collar tackle question, Wes's answer was that "The NFL will never start 'awarding' touchdowns." But Rule 11, Section 2, Article 1 states that "A touchdown is scored and the ball becomes dead when: (e) the Referee awards a touchdown to a team that has been denied one by a palpably unfair act." This is often about e.g. sideline players tackling returners. But it's not inconceivable that it could in the future be applied to defensive horse-collars, is it?

Sorry, but morphing a safety rule into a "palpably unfair act" is a bridge too far. Not gonna happen.

David from Crivitz, WI

Do you think a team would ever try a "starting RB" model like pitchers in baseball? With the number of big-name but older RBs to be available this year I would be curious what having two feature backs would look like with each getting an additional week of rest from their game (healthy scratch).

I don't see "workload management," even with such a demanding position, going that route. But with 17 games in the regular season and teams wanting their players to be at their best down the stretch and into the postseason to make a championship run, that's not likely to happen at running back if your top guy is getting 25 touches a game all through September and October. There's just too much risk. Aaron Jones being fresh and healthy in late December was a major reason for the offense's stretch-run surge.

Adam from Madison, WI

In response to Bruce from Jackson, WI, how many times did Jones block a blitzing LB? It isn't like he is just standing on the sidelines every time he doesn't rack up a carry.

Amen. Said duty also requires good health and stamina.

Ray from Phoenix, AZ

If GB does not resign Josiah Deguara for cap reasons, do you think Luke Musgrave or Tucker Kraft can fill that role? That would be another way to get both those guys on the field at the same time and not really tip the D to a run or pass.

There's no reason to close the door on any such possibilities. Ben Sims might be able to play H-back, too. Once the personnel dust settles, the coaches will dig into the roles they envision.

Kristian from Aarhus, Denmark

Hi Inboxers, I am as excited about Hafley as the next guy and what schematic and cultural differences he will install. When Barry was hired, we were talking about a "ball-hawking" defense. From what you may have picked up of Hafley's college game in what ways do you think he will approach that same ideal differently? "Vision-based defense," I get. But how do you see Hafley going differently at it apart from that? Thanks for your time and work.

I wasn't around for Hafley's introductory presser but I watched it from afar. I got the sense he really wants to learn about his players, including which will give the defense the best chance to make high-impact plays, and then, both schematically and situationally, provide them those opportunities. It'll be a process through OTAs, training camp and the first portion of the season. He won't know everything he needs or wants to about his players prior to Week 1.

Brian from Maple Grove, MN

Hafley mentioned watching film at his introductory press conference. He wasn't asked if he was watching film of the Packers, but I think it was implied. Do you think Gutey would ask Hafley to look at film of say pending free-agent safeties and draft-eligible safeties for his input on who he likes, to rank them, etc.? Also, will the coaching staff being traveling to Indianapolis for the combine this week?

I'm not privy to all the coaching staff's plans (or lack thereof) regarding the combine. But the answer to your first question is, I believe, yes absolutely. The personnel department regularly involves the coaching staff in player evaluations, and with the coordinator change they'll compare plenty of notes to make sure they're on the same page.

Keith from Middleton, WI

As was pointed out by several today, talk is cheap. But, what I took from Hafley's presser was "be demanding but not demeaning." To me, THAT is the basis for good/great leadership. Have you heard from any players regarding the intro presser?

No, but they're the last ones who will care about it, honestly. What players want to know from any new coach is, "How are you going to make me better? How can you help my career?" Those conversations occur outside our purview.

Brian from Bemidji, MN

Any "backstory" on the guy in the Pro Shop's Tommy Bahama ad? Don't know why, but color me curious. Am I wrong in assuming that all people in ads on are employees, and not just "extras"?

That's longtime equipment assistant Bryan Nehring, who's been mentioned in this space previously. Looks awfully sharp in that ad, for sure.

Don from Boise, ID

I was looking at our coaching lineup today. Why don't we have a linebackers coach?

Not all the position coaches have been officially announced yet.

Dwight from Brooklyn, NY

Shannon from Ovilla's question about an extension to Love's contract got me wondering. Prior to that date in May, is Gutey, or someone from the front office, allowed to speak to Love's agent in order to sound out parameters of a deal? Or is it like the offseason relationship between coaches and players where the former can't talk to the latter until the seasons starts? I'd think they're allowed to at least broach the subject as it has a ripple effect regarding cap room.

They can talk to one another anytime and almost certainly will be talking soon if they haven't already.

Scott from Sunburst, MT

Does a half a year of solid QB play really equate to being paid in the top 10 of QBs or are they jumping the gun a little? I would like to see a few years in row before we open the bank vault. Don't get me wrong, I'm tickled with Jordan Love's play, but I would like to see him stack a few years before we crown him the next HOF quarterback.

Nobody's crowning him the next HOFer, but paying mega money for difference-making, face-of-the-franchise play at QB is the cost of doing business in the NFL. See a few years in a row? Good luck with that. As it stands currently, Love will be an unrestricted free agent after 2024, and to ask him to absorb full injury risk this season on a (now) substantially below-market deal not only would represent organizational malpractice but also risks alienating both him and the locker room he inhabits and leads. Of course, everyone would prefer to be absolutely, 100% sure Love's arrow remains pointed up and he'll be worth every single penny he's about to be paid, but that's not how you treat a guy you believe is "the guy" if you want him to remain "your guy" for the long haul.

H.R. from Henderson, NV

Can someone explain to me what the purpose of the combine is? Top prospects no longer are doing drills at the event, instead holding out for their own pro days. It was announced today that neither Williams nor Daniels will do any throwing at the combine. Why hold this event at all any longer? All the relevant stuff will happen at their pro days, including additional interviews and medical tests. Just end the darned thing.

But they don't do interviews and medical checks at pro days. If they canceled every on-field drill for every prospect here, the combine would still be worth it for all the NFL teams for the interviews and medical checks alone.

Richard from Racine, WI

How many total draft picks will the Packers have in the upcoming draft? Thanks.

The Packers are expecting 11 total once all the compensatory picks are announced. They currently have eight, with the extra second-rounder from the Rodgers trade with the Jets, and an extra third-rounder (in lieu of a fifth-rounder) from the Douglas trade with the Bills. The three anticipated comp picks are in the fifth, sixth and seventh.

Paul from Ledgeview, WI

Mike will we see "gutsy Gutey" in action during this year's draft, or will we see a more conservative approach given we do not need to find the next QB1? Is there any situation you could anticipate that would require a gutsy move for GB during this draft? Trading up to grab a CB maybe? Are there any generational talents at positions of Packers' needs that might prompt a bold move?

I don't see the Packers trading up into the top 10 if that's what you're asking. But a so-called bold move could be based on a player Gutey has rated as, say, a top 15 talent in the draft but he's still sitting there in the late teens/early 20s, and the difference between him and the next player on the Packers' board is worth the cost (a third-round pick? fourth-rounder?) to move up. But we won't know what the board looks like when the time comes, so trying to project specifics is a fool's errand.

Hal from Lanesboro, MN

With the combine looming, I'll re-ask the question I posed last week. Are there any specific drills for a particular position you'll be watching? 40-yard dash for cornerbacks, high jump for OL, etc.?

To clarify, our stay at the combine is very short. We're just here to cover the GM's media sessions today. We're not staying all week, so we won't be here for the player workouts.

Dustin from Kansas City, MO

Any chance I could get Jake from Decatur to write my bosses and ask them to give me Mondays off?

Go for it. Happy Tuesday from Indy.

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