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Inbox: There's still plenty of work to be done

Life doesn’t work like that

Packers offensive huddle
Packers offensive huddle

Mike from St. Louis Park, MN

Wes goes on vacation and stuff happens. I love it! Does this mean Mike has to keep a close eye on his lunch now, too? GPG!

We've officially entered the bizarro world.

Josh from Nicholasville, KY

Came across this quote from Calvin Trillin yesterday: "As far as I'm concerned, 'whom' is a word that was invented to make everyone sound like a butler." Other than that I feel like it was rather uneventful day.

Nothing to see here. Move along, folks.

Simon from Koege, Denmark

And now we sit back, let the dominos fall and wait for the dust to settle. One thing is sure though – AR, BG and ML have full confidence in the 2022 Packers' ability to compete for a championship!

That's why the Packers were willing to wait for Rodgers, because they believe opportunity continues to knock with him at the controls and they can manage the cap to stay in contention without gutting the team. His contract still needs to be finalized, but after that, the next few moves, financially speaking, will be very interesting.

Sal from Hailey, ID

I didn't realize how stressed I was about this whole ordeal until the announcement was made today. Yes, we don't know the details yet, and Davante Adams is still up in the air. But just knowing we will have 12 under center for at least a couple more years was a huge relief for me (and, I'm guessing, others). As for the $$, or should I say $$$$, we just need to let Russ figure that one out.

There's still plenty of work to be done with the cap, other contracts, pending free agents, and the like. But this is the first piece that needs to be in place before definitive decisions can be made regarding many other pieces.

Dennis from Orlando, FL

Please explain more about the updated cap and how Aaron Rodgers' new contract helps.

The league officially set the salary cap for 2022 at around $208M, which was expected. After Rodgers' contract was restructured last year, he was set to carry a massive cap charge this year, around $46M, or almost $20M higher than his 2021 cap charge. I'm not privy to any details, but I'd expect the structure of Rodgers' new deal to allow for his '22 cap charge to be much closer to his '21 figure, with bigger cap hits down the road as the cap rises with the new TV money factored in. I believe they're taking a similar approach with Adams and Alexander as well.

Dan from Waupun, WI

Did Marge retire so the Packers had enough money for Aaron?

Good one.

JR from Lanark, Canada

AR12 is way too good a QB to only win a single SB in his career (he probably thinks so too). Obviously he thinks his best chances are in GB, as he would get his money anywhere he went. At the end of four years, what would need to have happened for this deal to truly be a success? Thanks for your thoughts.

Another Super Bowl is the easy answer, because the Packers have shown how hard that achievement is to reach. But I'd never qualify it that simply, because life doesn't work like that. Those who know me know my belief, that all any team can do is stay in contention and try to be healthy, play well and catch a few breaks in the postseason. There are no guarantees, but I believe Rodgers at QB is as close a guarantee as there is to being a contender and giving yourself another shot or three.

Steve from Eau Claire, WI

And the rest of the NFC North says baloney without saying the word baloney.

The retooling division rivals' paths to contention just got a lot rougher it would seem.

Mutt from Blaine, MN

Good morning. With the impending LARGE contract going to AR and the cap issues, it appears there will be a premium on our draft picks performing well on affordable contracts. The last couple years and the next couple years will need some great impact from young players as it seems unrealistic they'd be able to afford too many free agents or catch the magic of so many lower-budget guys like this last year. Do you see that same picture or is it much more complicated than that?

If you draft well year after year, you get the production needed from players on their first contracts. That's a key to any team staying in the hunt on a regular basis. What'll be virtually impossible to replicate is the lightning-in-a-bottle the Packers caught with De'Vondre Campbell and Rasul Douglas last year. That's exceedingly rare, and not to be counted on annually. Campbell filled a major void, while Douglas was an injury-related move, so better luck in the health department would obviously help reduce the need to hit big like that again.

Jeff from Vandenberg SFB, CA

Wow, what a Tuesday! Bigger news, Rodgers coming back or the Wilson trade?

I'll leave the ranking to others. What a monster trade between the Broncos and Seahawks, though. Wow. Hackett is getting a chance to win right away, which doesn't always happen for first-time head coaches, and a nine-time Pro Bowl QB joins a division that already has Mahomes, Herbert and Carr under center for their respective clubs. Time to really buckle up in the AFC West. The Packers will face that entire division in 2023.

Peder from Muskegon, MI

What do you suppose a trade with Denver would have looked like had the Packers not extended AR? I'm curious if you think they would have given more for Rodgers than Wilson?

I don't know. Wilson isn't the two-time reigning MVP but he is five years younger.

Colton from Pleasant View, UT

I know they say all you need is Love, but with the Rodgers deal going down, what do you see in his future? As a former Aggie myself I was hoping he would get a chance for the Packers, but I don't see the point in keeping a first-round pick on the bench.

If they get a really good offer, I could see the Packers trading Jordan Love, but they aren't just going to move him without getting worthwhile value in return. More likely in my mind is the Packers will continue to develop the young prospect knowing they have a reasonably priced, capable (and improving) backup to Rodgers for the last two years of Love's rookie contract. I'm fairly certain a veteran backup would cost the Packers more money than they're paying Love.

Barb from Marengo, IL

I'm feeling a little hypocrisy in the NFL air. Calvin Ridley is suspended for gambling (which I believe he should be) but the NFL advertises gambling during pre-game and games. Am I misunderstanding? What are your thoughts?

As those who read this column regularly know, it's difficult for me to reconcile the league's insistence on the integrity of the game with its embrace of the gambling industry via sponsorships, etc. There's a blurring of lines that doesn't feel sustainable over the long haul. I'll just leave it at that.

Will from Milwaukee, WI

Good morning, Mike. Since everyone will comment today on the obvious big news (didn't 12 get the memo on making big announcements while you were gone?), here's a change-up pitch. What if anything can be done by the now O-line coach to improve on the remarkable 2021 performance, and keep 12's jersey clean on game day? Other than possibly right tackle, it looks like the line will be deep and experienced this year. Thanks for all you do, enjoy the day and GPG!

Luke Butkus' job as he rises to take over the offensive line will be to continue developing young players the way he and Adam Stenavich have for the past three years. Myers, Runyan, Newman and Nijman all look like ascending players to me. Bakhtiari should be back for the start of everything in '22. Jenkins is expected back at some point. I'm not sure what will happen with Turner, and the depth will take a hit if Patrick and/or Kelly don't return, but there's plenty of reason to believe this will be a very strong unit for the Packers once again.

Matt from Tea, SD

I know a ways off, but with Elgton Jenkins' contract but do you think with his versatility he will be paid as a tackle, guard, or center?

That's a negotiation for another day, but chances are it won't be as simple as giving him a specific position label.

CJ from Cedar Rapids, IA

Just a ballpark figure please. Just wondering how much cap space do the Packers need to sign their draft picks? Thank you for your time.

Generally speaking, it ends up in the $8-10M range, but it's impossible to peg right now. Players/contracts currently in that top 51 will be released/restructured between now and next Wednesday, and more moves could come between then and when the draft picks sign, changing all the equations. But no space is needed for the draft picks until after the draft.

Dale from Aurora, CO

Is there any consideration given when evaluating draft prospects to the conference of the prospect? I would think a prospective OL player from a Big Ten school would be held in higher regard than one from say the Missouri Valley Conference.

Studying the film on a prospect includes studying his competition.

Mike from Katy, TX

With regard to the combine becoming a moneymaker, what can the NFL do to make it more entertaining for fans to want to attend? It is hard for me to watch more than a few athletes before I'm bored.

That's understandable. Somewhere down the line the league probably will create more direct competitions amongst the prospects and pay them to participate.

Jim from Bentonville, AR

Hi II, I am wondering if you can confirm if the practice squads are reverting back to the 2019 rules? I know they were updated for flexibility during Covid, and the NFL suspended their Covid protocols. I am not sure, however, if the updated practice squad rules are a part of that or not. The Packers' front office seemed to work those updated rules very well last season and I am hoping the expanded roster and lessened restrictions on returning to play stay in effect.

I'm not aware of any reversion to old rules, but we'll likely get more clarity on this following the owners' meetings at the end of the month, which Wes will be covering for us.

Bob from Rome, NY

Gentlemen: I've been thinking a lot about this the last few years. What are your thoughts of giving the conference regular-season champion the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and let their respective tournament champion have a shot at an at-large bid? Might give some excitement to the long regular season and allow some of the smaller conference regular-season champions not to lose their bid during a three-day weekend tournament to a sub-.500 team. Thank you!

Amidst all this craziness, I am legitimately looking forward to March Madness. I'm sure your suggestion has been kicked around by various conferences over the years, because it seems grossly unfair in a one-bid league for the regular-season champ to be forced to essentially win the conference twice to get a bid. But my guess is without the automatic bid tied to the league tournament, those smaller conferences wouldn't get the attendance nor TV audience for that event, which translates into a lot of dollars.

Stan from Merrill, WI

Could we have a rule that all future questions with the term "OT" must refer to offensive tackles?

I'm getting close, believe me.

Matty from Troy, MO

On whether Ludwig and Therese lived happily ever after, not so much. King Ludwig never married and was found dead at age 40. His body was found floating in Lake Starnberg near Munich along with that of his physician in 1886 under mysterious circumstances, one day after his imprisonment for "insanity." Not exactly a fairy tale ending.

So they got that goin' for 'em, which is nice.

Brian from Bemidji, MN

What will we ever find to talk about now 'til August?

T-minus 50 days and counting until the draft. Happy Wednesday.