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Inbox: They're just harder to find

Improvement from within will be paramount for Packers

T David Bakhtiari
T David Bakhtiari

Brandon from Oshkosh, WI

Does who and whom really matter?


Sal from Hailey, ID

What do you think of Devin Funchess' potential fit on our offense? Having played TE in college, he should be up for plenty of blocking as a WR, which we all know is imperative in our new and improved scheme. Injuries have kept him out of the conversation for a while, but I could see his arrival making the competition for WR 2/3/4 more interesting.

We're waiting for the acquisition to be official, but for the most part my view aligns with yours. Wes and I also talked about him a bit in our video chat yesterday.

Mark from West Bend, WI

Mike, a few weeks back you touched upon the Packers' running back situation going forward, and this week's list of 2021 free agents didn't even include Jamaal Williams or Aaron Jones on top of those listed. With the deals Ekeler and Gordon signed there is a good feel for what the cost of re-signing Jones will be. If Dobbins or Edwards-Helaire was available at 62 would you choose either? Unfortunately I just don't see JT still being there.

My list of future free agents absolutely should have included the Packers' running backs. If it didn't, poor oversight on my part. But I'm not sure about taking a running back in the first two rounds unless he's a clear BAP on the Packers' board other teams are letting fall. If several players are closely ranked, I suspect other needs will be addressed first.

Tim from Saint John, Canada

I think the Pack is having a very smart, productive offseason so far. Cheap veterans allowing for flexibility during the draft and cap space for big upcoming extensions. I believe Kenny Clark and David Bakhtiari must be re-signed, but Jones is a risky call simply because of the position. Do you think it's worth it to sign RBs to huge-money contracts regardless of how skilled they are? Hope everyone stays safe and healthy during these tough times!

Cautionary tales on contracts for running backs are plentiful. I think those could help the Packers find the right balance to keep Jones at a palatable price when the time comes, but it may depend on how everything goes with Clark and Bakhtiari first. As I said in the video chat with Wes, top-flight big guys take priority because they're just harder to find.

Bob from Racine, WI

Greetings. When I see these free-agent signings, I think of "...give me your tired, broken, etc." It appears we're signing players who have physical issues. What's your take?

Recent injuries certainly brought the prices down on Christian Kirksey and Funchess, which has helped the Packers' cap situation, and the team has the chance to reap the benefits of a bounce-back season without as much financial risk. It's a worthwhile approach given Green Bay's bigger picture, which we've discussed here at length.

Ethan from La Crosse, WI

"I've learned there's less appreciation for the sausage once it's seen how it's made." I'm not sure you would be able to convince Kramer and Newman.

Another reader tweeted that video clip at me. Made my day.

Edwin from Dallas, TX

A Chargers fan asked me: "Would you ever play Bulaga at LT?" I told him I'd ask an Insider. Mike/Wes: Would you ever play Bulaga at LT?

He could play it and the offense would be more than functional, but after a decade in the league, to get the best of Bulaga you play him at right tackle.

Robert from Verona, WI

While so much of the focus is on free agency and the draft, I'm still excited about the possibility that we're going to get significant contributions from players already on the roster. Players like Rashan Gary, Oren Burks, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown, Allen Lazard, Robert Tonyan, Jace Sternberger, and Montravius Adams all have the potential to have breakout years. Not all of them will, but I'm excited to see who elevates their game this season, because so many people seem to look outside the current roster for improvement.

I've often said I never underestimate a motivated professional athlete, and that motivation can present itself in different forms – opportunity, lack of job security, rebounding from a down performance or injury, or any combination thereof. Given the possibility of offseason programs being truncated or even eliminated, impact from rookie draft picks could be limited in 2020, especially early in the season. Improvement from within will be paramount for the Packers.

Dave from Germantown, TN

Why do you think there has been little or no interest in Jameis Winston or Cam Newton?

The quick answers are 30 interceptions and a bad shoulder, respectively. But that doesn't explain everything. Supply outpacing demand at QB this offseason is certainly a factor, so anyone still interested can keep waiting until the prices come way down. The potentially difficult fit, locker-room-wise, of placing either or both in backup situations, might be the biggest issue.

Nick from Hopkins, MN

OH. MY. GOODNESS. I've been watching vintage 2010's playoff games. I'd forgotten THE RIP by Peppers on DeMarco Murray with a huge hole. So good! Your top three Peppers in GB plays?

The strip of Murray is far and away No. 1. Next would be his strip-sack of Stafford in Detroit in '15, a huge part of the comeback in the Hail Mary game. After that, his pick-six vs. Minnesota in '14 was pretty cool. He had another one that year vs. Philly but the game was already a blowout.

Jason from Buchanan, WI

Have you thought of this? Regarding the road quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers has to face, except for Jimmy G, Cousins has to face all of them on the road, too. And, instead of Jimmy G he gets Wilson! So we have that going for us, which is nice.

Whaddaya know. I hadn't noticed that.

Bill from Maple Grove, MN

Does the rest of the NFC North have to face the same elite quarterbacks as the Packers?

For the most part, yes, because the NFC North is matched up against the NFC South and AFC South in 2020. But the Bears and Lions get Brees, Brady, Watson and Rivers at home. And while the road slate of NFC West matchups includes Garoppolo for the Packers and Wilson for the Vikings, it's Kyler Murray for the Lions and Jared Goff for the Bears.

Adam from Madison, WI

Shouldn't we be more worried about what running backs we'll be facing next season?

The 49ers were just different last year, and they had a QB and other weapons to lean on if their running game wasn't clicking. They were the exception in 2019, not the rule. That said, the running back who could change the balance of power (again) in the NFC North would be Dalvin Cook, in my view. The Packers didn't face him after Week 2 last year.

Al from Green Bay, WI

Working from home is an adjustment for many of us, but there are always things to learn in new circumstances. For example, I now know when mating season occurs for squirrels (wooded back yard). What have you learned by working from home?

How cold my house can get during the day. I need to reprogram the thermostat.

Elliot from Minneapolis, MN

Maybe it's all the years of my 'Bama-loving uncle talking into my ear but the one player that I don't want our division rivals to draft is Jalen Hurts. I think he is going to be a player that will drop into the middle/late rounds and end up becoming a great starting QB.

I can't imagine he'll be available in the draft as long as you suspect given what Lamar Jackson has accomplished in such a short time in the NFL.

Matty from Janesville, WI

What leads to the difference in 40-yard dash times between the combine and pro days? Why are these times so different (most of the time)? Devin Funchess ran a 4.70 at the combine but a 4.47 at his pro day. Sensor-driven versus hand timing?

Sometimes it's the running surface. Or a player can be more relaxed and loose in a familiar environment. The slightest miscue leading to a slow start can easily cost a player one or two tenths on his 40 time.

Mark from Marxville, WI

Hello guys, during this tremendous challenge that our world is up against, it has brought many devastating losses and challenges for all. In my little world it is not being able to hug (or see in person) my week-old grandson and his parents. We will get through it. My question is, what do you think will be the biggest change in life in general and sports in particular when we return to normal? Thank you. Stay Safe!

I'm hoping sports really don't change once we're back to normal, but I don't think we'll know the answer to the life-in-general question until we see how long this lasts.

Tony from San Juan Capistrano, CA

We need Jack Bauer.

And his flip phone with the everlasting battery.

Scotty from Lombard, IL

Hi Insiders, I am confident our GM will continue to get the BAP and fill holes to improve our team. However, all of this effort will be wasted if Rodgers for some reason cannot play. I do not know if Tim Boyle can come in off the bench and take over. Every year, I feel this way, regarding our backup quarterback situation. Could you please shed some light on this?

Allocation of resources is tricky, and devoting a chunk to someone you hope never has to play is always a tough sell to me. Everyone brings up the example of New Orleans and Bridgewater last year. Well, it was a luxury the Saints could afford because they had a top running back, left tackle and cornerback on rookie contracts. In the end, Bridgewater's 5-0 record in Brees' place still didn't help them get out of the first round of the playoffs. There's no perfect answer.

Steve from Bloomington, IL

With some of the Packers' greatest needs (LB, OT, WR) having been at least partially addressed via free agency, it seems less predictable who the Packers might be picking at No. 30. Do you think this makes it less likely that a team trades up in front of the Packers to take a player they thought the Packers were likely to pick?

I don't know. Maybe it's more likely they jump up to make sure they get the guy they want because it's not as easy to peg where the Packers' interests lie.

Jerome from Midland, MI

Insiders, I believe that Oren Burks will have a breakout season, as I remember Morgan Burnett had a rough first two years, missing tackles, being in the wrong place, and considered one of the worst safeties in the league. Morgan's third season he found his groove and became a solid bookmark for the defense. Oren needs to stay healthy and find his groove to become the player the Packers drafted him to be. I see him more of a natural safety than ILB but I will let the coaches do their job.

Interesting analogy. Worth keeping in mind.

Nancy from Concord, CA

What do you think is going to be the biggest challenge for the Packers' upcoming season?


Spencer from Rockford, IL

"Progress is slow, but I'm in it for the long haul." – Will McAvoy. That's how I'm seeing the Packers' offseason so far, and the situation with COVID-19. One of my favorite lines from "The Newsroom." I certainly wouldn't complain if Aaron Sorkin wrote another season. Supposedly he wrote the entire script for the show.

He never got enough credit for "Sports Night." Maybe the best show I've ever seen that lasted only two seasons.

Chris from New Canaan, CT

I've adopted a new reading format for II. First, I read your answer, then I read the question – provided the answer is witty or entertaining. I end up reading most of the questions ...

Whatever works. Happy Thursday.