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Inbox: There's no telling where he goes from here

Long term, it’s not the best answer

S Darnell Savage
S Darnell Savage

Jeffrey from Eau Claire, WI

What are the Pack's biggest concerns this offseason?

Just one concern. Improvement.

Shilo from Murrieta, CA

Chris Berman suggested AL/NL regional rivalries for the MLB decades ago, and it's great. I think NFC/AFC regional rivalries is also the best option for the NFL 17th game (ex. Rams-Chargers, Giants-Jets, Cowboys-Texans, etc.). It would guarantee local interest and revenue each year, & neutral site or alternating home site decisions would be up to the two rival teams. Whaddya think, Mike?

Many Inbox readers have suggested this, and I'm just not sure an annually repetitive opponent is the right fit when so few games are played to begin with, and one win or loss any given year can be the difference between making the playoffs or not. Long term, it's not the best answer from a competitive-balance perspective.

Levi from Yankton, SD

With the 17th game would all the NFC play an extra home game and the entire AFC on the road? Then switch the next year? What is the best for keeping things fair for getting into playoffs? I would hope at least it would be the same in the division.

You know, if the everyone-plays-an-international-game idea doesn't take hold, this would at least help make things as equitable as possible.

Kevin from Holmen, WI

With the way the game is played now, you can never have enough good defensive backs. Although Green Bay's depth is decent, a corner in the draft shouldn't be overlooked. Especially with Kevin King set to be a free agent next year, Tramon Williams not guaranteed to come back, and Jaire Alexander presumably asking for a big contract in a few years if he keeps playing as well as he has his first two years.

If I were a GM, there are three positions I would never overlook in terms of adding depth in any given draft – defensive line, offensive line and cornerback. Draft at least one of each every year.

Thomas from Burlington, WI

If the NFL does go to 17 games, how will that affect the Green and Gold ticket packages? Only one preseason game, doubt they can make Milwaukee pay for that. Seems like it could get complicated.

Mark Murphy suggested in his monthly column that in the years with just one preseason home game, it would alternate between the different ticket packages.

Cindy from Oshkosh, WI

Mike, your favorite story from the combine of Jeff Okudah's response to the reporter gave me a newfound appreciation of just how much research you and all reporters must do to be prepared and not look like a fool. Not only did it win the combine for you, it cost that reporter his job.

Almost anyone can get a credential to cover the combine. Thank goodness it's not like that at actual games.

Rod from Chugiak, AK

Hi Mike, Gary from Belle Mead's question about Rashan Gary in a three-OLB rotation keeping the Smiths fresh set me wondering. Is he prepping to work both left and right? Za'Darius Smith flexes around, but if I'm not mistaken, not past center on his side, and Preston Smith, I think, stays put on his own end, no?

I don't recall those guys being locked in on certain sides. They flipped around plenty based on the offensive formation.

Christopher from Neenah, WI

Do you see a lot of QB shakeups on the free-agent market?

That appears to be where things are headed.

Lauren from Tampa Bay, FL

Mike, I'll make you a fake coffee for your take on Jonathan Taylor. I would love to see him in green and gold. Is it likely?

I don't think so. I don't see the Packers using their first-round pick on him, and I think he'll be gone by the time their second pick rolls around. I do think Taylor is going to make a RB-needy team very happy it chose him. He's a special player. His ability to gain yards that aren't there, or don't appear to be there, is underrated in my opinion.

Roger from McGrath, AK

Please correct my guesses. Reggie Begelton with a futures contract in hand gets to vote on the CBA but Bryan Bulaga doesn't because he's between contracts.

Bulaga is still under contract with the Packers until March 18, so he definitely gets a vote. Even released players, whose contracts have been terminated and don't yet have a new deal, are still union members if they haven't retired. Begelton's futures deal doesn't officially take effect until March 18, but I'm not sure how the union treats that in terms of the player's membership.

Dan from Rice Lake, WI

I can understand Aaron Rodgers's concern regarding an apparent lack of player interest in the CBA. But with 14 years in the league, he's the exception. NFLPA says average tenure for a player is 3.3 years. The primary interest for many players is the size of their paycheck for the next year or two, not the revenue split six years down the road. This isn't an indictment of the players, it's simply human nature, which is why a 17-game season seems likely.

I hear your point, but I'd also say there's a lot in there regarding post-retirement benefits that could mean a lot more over the long haul to players with those average career lengths than just their salaries for a couple of years. I think that's part of what Rodgers was trying to convey.

Take a look at photos of Lambeau Field on a rainy day in March.

Ryan from Somerset, WI

Kenneth from Greenfield should just turn in his underappreciated uniform and become a fan of all the Florida teams. They change their jerseys all the time, if that's what he cares about. Winners don't change...Green Bay, New England, Pittsburgh, New York Giants, Cowboys, etc. Big chunk of the Super Bowl wins in that list with no major jersey changes. Start cheering for Tampa Bay, trust me they have shirts for you.

But no soup. Definitely no soup for you.

Ron from Waukesha, WI

With seven Day 3 picks on their card, will Gutekunst and his team spend more time evaluating the bottom halve of the draft pool? In 2007, with three sixth-round picks, Thompson hit on Korey Hall, Desmond Bishop and Mason Crosby. With the salary cap tight and our first pick at No. 30, that's the kind of draft we need this year to take the next step forward.

No argument there on the value of hitting on late-round opportunities, but Gutekunst & Co. will evaluate the draft as they always do and grade/rank the players as always. They can never know when a trade could present itself to take advantage of where their board sits. The draft is all about maximizing value, and that can occur by hitting on the picks you have, or by using that draft capital to maneuver to find the best value.

Chuck from Antigo, WI

Will the Packers trade up or down or stay pat with their first pick?

Nothing's off the table, but I think the latter two options are the most likely.

Michelle from Ringgold, GA

Who will be the breakout player for the Packers in 2020?

The easy answer, as mentioned often already, is Jace Sternberger. Depending on your definition of "breakout player," I'm wondering if it's going to be Darnell Savage. There's no telling where he goes from here.

Kevin from Clane, Kildare, Ireland

Hi, how is Cole Madison's recovery going? With all the draft talk excitement and taking positions here and there, he's not really had a mention as a jar on the shelf. I'd love to see what he can do. I really enjoyed watching him play at Washington State and would love to see more of him, injury willing, at the next level.

I've heard no updates on Madison. His injury occurring in mid-November will make it difficult for him to be ready for training camp, but we'll just have to see.

Dex from Madison, WI

Back in the day, the practice squad was known as the taxi squad, and then sometimes, cleverly, the cab squad. Why the change and what's the difference? I'd advocate for a return to calling it taxi squad or even the more updated Uber squad. And btw, hope your time off gave you a Lyft.

Groaning aside, my understanding is the original "taxi squad" got its name because the first team to create one, Cleveland, put the reserve players on the payroll of the owner's taxi company.

Ren from Chicago, IL

Will you be attending opening day (baseball)?

At this point, no, unfortunately.

Dominic from Chesapeake, VA

Welcome back, Mike! Would you mind sharing your favorite, simplest recipe for grilled brats?

Speaking of opening day (t-minus 16 days and counting)…boil the brats in a vat of beer and onions for a few minutes, then turn off the heat and let them sit for a couple of hours, if time allows. Transfer from the beer to the grill, brown them over a charcoal fire, and then straight from the grill to the bun. It's the only way I know how.

Fr. Michael from Norwalk, WI

Not a question, just a comment. This past Saturday morning I buried Alice Isbell, the widow of Packers Hall of Famer Cecil Isbell. As we labor through this dead zone of hypothetical questions about everything football it's good to rejoice in the rich history and tradition that is our Green Bay Packers (whose uniforms I love!). It's amazing to me how it pops up in the most unexpected places and reminds us of how truly rich our memories make us.

My condolences to the Isbell family. Thanks for sharing. It's really too bad the former Packers QB didn't make Canton's special centennial class. That would have been a wonderful moment for Mrs. Isbell to take with her. May she rest in peace regardless.

Karen from South Beloit, IL

How do we know if we've been banned? Do you send us an email? Do we get a big red NO jumping out at us when we click on "submit"?

Uncertainty is part of the charm. Happy Tuesday.

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