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Inbox: There's plenty of growth to be had

They aren’t close to finished products

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T/G Royce Newman

John from Oxford, UK

Checking my pencil pack I don't see an "intrigued" colour in there. Should I be checking in the greens or the golds?

Humour from across the pond kicks us off today.

Rich from De Pere, WI

I haven't heard much lately about future NFL Draft sites. Is Green Bay still under consideration for hosting the draft in the next couple of years?

I believe Green Bay, Detroit and Washington, D.C., are the finalists to host the draft in 2024. I would think the league would announce a decision at one of the owners' meetings this spring.

Thomas from Cedar Rapids, IA

I liked the lack of flags in the Super Bowl but since then, I have seen where Donald was lined up offsides on a Bengals failed fourth down, and the Rams had multiple false starts on their third-and-goal from the 8. I don't recall the situations but if Cincy had challenges available, are those reviewable? And I also agree with De'Vondre Campbell on the pass interference. He won't get a fine for that, will he?

No, those aren't reviewable, and goodness no, I certainly wouldn't expect Campbell to be fined for respectfully stating his opinion, with which I happen to agree wholeheartedly.

Phil from Madison, WI

I admit I haven't seen a minor league game in a while. With the robot calling balls and strikes, does the home plate umpire still stand over the catcher's shoulder, or does (s)he call HBPs, foul tips, catcher's interference, balks, and plays at the plate from a safer distance? And do they just stand there and do nothing on most pitches?

I haven't seen the automated strike zone in action, either, but my understanding is the home plate umpire is in the same position and does everything he normally would – except he receives a signal on a device indicating whether the pitch is a ball or strike to dictate his call.

Joe from Hampshire, IL

Hi Mike, not sure if you ever shared your perspective on the NL finally getting the DH this coming season (even if it is not officially official yet).

I'm going to miss the strategy involved in effectively using the bench, making double-switches, etc. But I departed from my previous purist stance when Brewers pitcher Jimmy Nelson practically ruined his career, and his team's playoff chances, by diving back into first base and wrecking his shoulder at Wrigley Field in September 2017. OK, sorry for the extended baseball diversion. Back to football.

Bob from Fisher, IL

Mike, I am hoping for some clarity on Aaron Donald's contract. I have seen reports that he has three years and something like $45 million left, but no guaranteed money. So, how does that contract work, if they do not extend him? Does an amount kick in on the first day of the new league year? I read he has a $5 million roster bonus, but what about the rest of the money, and how much will he get paid? Just asking an offseason question. Thanks for all you and Wes do!

For any vested veteran like Donald, regardless of financial guarantees elsewhere in his contract such as roster bonuses, his salary for the upcoming season becomes fully guaranteed if he's on the team's roster for Week 1.

Check out photos of Green Bay Packers TE Marcedes Lewis from the 2021 season.

Matt from Fort Worth, TX

Hello! With all the talk of players getting into the HOF, does Clay Matthews have a shot at getting in? I will admit I've done no research to see how he stacks up.

First off, I'm guessing he'd much rather see his father get in, and it's too bad the cards haven't fallen the elder Clay's way. As for the younger Matthews, I'm just not sure. Trying to look objectively, his six Pro Bowls highlight an impressive 11-year career, but he had only two All-Pro selections (one first team, one second) and no major accolades over his final four seasons in the league. He also lost out at OLB/edge rusher on the NFL's All-Decade Team for the 2010s to Von Miller, Chandler Jones and Khalil Mack. Don't get me wrong, there's still a case to be made given his switch to inside linebacker to save a sagging run defense in '14, the extra attention he drew from opponents, and a long list of high-impact moments – including 11 sacks in 15 career postseason games and the huge forced fumble in Super Bowl XLV. But it's too bad he lost such a close vote (17-15) for DPOY in 2010 to Pittsburgh's Troy Polamalu. That would've given the discussion a nice boost.

Nate from West Salem, WI

Hey Spoff, this time of year everyone wants to talk about the draft being the big opportunity for growth for next year, but from experience we know it'll be the year 2-3 players. Is there enough to look forward to in that regard? (Always speculation and projection, I know). Thanks, hope you're well.

Just looking at the rising second- and third-year players who have played a significant amount already, there's plenty of growth to be had. AJ Dillon, Josiah Deguara, Jon Runyan, Jonathan Garvin, Krys Barnes, Dominique Dafney, Eric Stokes, T.J. Slaton, Rodgers (Amari), Royce Newman, Josh Myers … all those guys (and others) have a lot of experience to draw upon, and they aren't close to finished products.

Craig from Appleton, WI

In a down year for the special teams one of the few bright spots was Corey Bojorquez. He is set to become a free agent. Obviously there are other free-agent positions garnering all of the attention right now, but how high of a priority is it to get him re-signed to a long-term contract?

I don't want to speak for anybody here, but I suspect the Packers want him back. He seems to possess a lot of talent with which to work. What price will he command? I think that's the key question.

Joe from Las Vegas, NV

Glad that you had a break. Besides D.B. returning to the O-line next season what other changes do you think might happen to the O-line?

It's tough to say. Patrick is a pending free agent while Billy Turner's contract might be on the list of cap puzzle pieces, which could mean a lot of different things. The bottom line, as we've said all along, is the Packers will have a better handle on their cap situation when there's some finality to Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams.

Jeff from Victorville, CA

With salary cap issues being what they are and the Packers protecting practice-squad kicker JJ Molson on a weekly basis as it appears the team likes what they see, I would venture to guess Mason Crosby (with close to a $5 million cap hit in 2022) may be on the way out which would save the Packers plenty in cap room. This to me seems inevitable but you never know. Have you seen much of Molson during practices to let us fans know what we may or may not have in the young kicker?

I don't like to call anything inevitable, but Crosby's contract is another one of those puzzle pieces. We haven't seen Molson since training camp because we don't get to watch regular-season practices. He certainly seemed like a capable kicker, but I'm of the belief you never know about anyone at that position until they're kicking in real games and clutch situations.

Bob from Sydney, Australia

Hi Mike. If Rodgers and Adams stay and we load up again, you have to think it's a higher degree of difficulty next year. Right now I'd take the many small victories amongst the losing records of a rebuild year or two over a diminished chance at fulfilment (and another playoff heartbreak). I'm scared of how long on final run will keep the Pack out of contention. I feel guilty for feeling this way, especially when Jordan Love remains unproven; but in the short term, maybe winning doesn't fix everything?

I agree it would be a higher degree of difficulty, not having the No. 1 seed, bye and home field, for example. That does put a team in the best position, and it's always worth getting. But the margins in this league are so thin, I don't think it's as large an increase in difficulty as you're projecting. The last two Super Bowl champs – seeded fifth and fourth in the NFC, respectively – are evidence. It still comes down to staying healthy, catching a few breaks, and playing good football when it matters most. None of that happened for the Packers the last two years, despite being in the best position.

Kyler from Redding, CA

With the league expanding its international series to where all the teams will play over there, in Germany or the other, now knowing our opponents for next season which game makes the most sense for the Packers to go?

This is pure spiffballing here, but with any games in Europe falling into the U.S.'s early Sunday TV window due to the time difference, it would seem unlikely a potential 3:25 p.m. or prime-time matchup would get moved. That might rule out Bears, Vikings, Cowboys, Rams, Patriots and Titans. So if gambling were legal at Bushwood, I'd put my money on the Giants or Jets, or maybe even the Lions. The league has scheduled five division games in the international series thus far.

Bob from Myrtle Beach, SC

CBS Mock Draft: one picked a WR, another picked a CB, still another picked a DL. I think the last time, I got it right was B.J. Raji. The problem with predicting the GBP is that they usually pick so late in the draft, that not knowing who is going to be picked prior to GB, makes it all a crapshoot. Let the stupid arguments begin?

I promise you I won't look at a single mock draft until after the scouting combine, at the earliest. Even then, the value in them is to see not who's projected as the Packers' pick, but rather all the players frequently slotted to be chosen around that spot, which gives a reasonable idea of the guys who may be available.

Josh from Green Bay, WI

Can the Packers afford to have the highest-paid QB in Rodgers and the highest-paid receiver in Adams and still field a competitive (Super Bowl-caliber) roster for next season? Seems like that's too much of a cap hit for two players while trying to get others what they deserve.

If both players are signed to long-term extensions, their cap numbers for 2022 can be held down to very manageable levels, and the larger cap hits can come due when the new TV money kicks in.

Steven from Lake Worth, FL

Good morning Mike, may we all hope that Russ Ball be the MVP of the offseason.

I'd love to barge into one of Russ's salary cap meetings with Gutey this offseason and pipe up in my best Leslie Nielsen voice, "I just want to tell you both good luck, we're all counting on you."

Matt from Keswick, VA

Good day II, so, which is more complex: the U.S. tax code, the NFL rule book, or rules governing filling a roster (salary cap/compensatory draft picks/injured reserve/franchise tags, etc.)?

What constitutes a catch might still take the cake. Happy Friday.

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