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Inbox: This is just the third draft since 2009 …

The money was going to go somewhere

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CB Jaire Alexander

Vic from Livingston, TX

If they put chips in the football, will it be potato chips or corn chips? When they play in Mexico, it could be tortilla chips. When in the UK, perhaps fish & chips...the offseason gives one too much time to ponder such things.

Whoa, how long was I gone exactly?

Bob from Plymouth, WI

I would love to see chips to show the football location. Win or lose, it will be fair. You only need a chip on each end because the cylindrical orientation is irrelevant. If you have a sensor that can sense both angle and distance for both chips, you only need one sensor for the stadium. If the sensor can only give you accurate direction, you need three equally spaced around the stadium. The problem might be available sensor range and accuracy. If we are lucky, that only means more sensors.

Note to tech support: I need a button that plays the voice of Charlie Brown's teacher, pronto.

Arthur from Eau Claire, WI

Welcome back, Michael. How are you? Rested up and clear of mind I hope. The wonderkid did a fine job while you were recharging. No breaking news I know of this last week. I wish you, Wes, Larry and whomever (?) goes to Indy for the combine a safe and ticket-free ride. We look forward to the pearls you investigators dig up.

Just to clarify for everyone, Wes is our official combine sleuth this week. When it was determined the coverage crew needed to leave Monday morning, and I would be returning Sunday afternoon to a driveway with a foot of snow (plus the plow leftovers) to clear out before getting into my house, I decided the more sane approach to returning to work would be to support Weston from afar and take the Inbox off his hands for a few days while he tackles Indy. So we're both working this week, just with different duties.

Brian from Mackenbach, Germany

Wes, have fun and good eating at the combine! I wish you safe travels and no spillage on your nether regions.

He'll be looking out for faulty pumps that give gasoline showers, too. That was truly awful and I don't think Wes has returned that oasis since.

Dale from Prescott, WI

Welcome back Mike! Baseball has started, a few issues with the new rules but looking at the length of games, I believe they are accomplishing what they set up to do. Brewer game was 2 hours, 21 minutes, watching the game it just seemed more crisp. I like it.

Everyone's up in arms over a pitch clock violation resulting in the final strikeout of a game with the bases loaded, but hey, it's spring training. This should get both sides paying attention so it doesn't happen in a real game, and increased pace of play has been desperately needed in MLB.

Gina from Waukesha, WI

Not a question. Although I have never been on a darkness retreat. I usually go on a silent retreat once a year. It was "different" not listening to anything but the sounds of nature. Not giving in to your thoughts. It can be very enlightening and spiritual. When I first heard about AR's retreat I was skeptical but like you said. Who are we to judge.

I honestly don't get the questioning, judgmental and at times vitriolic rants regarding Rodgers' vacation decision(s). I'm guilty of a little playful humor at the expense of something so unheard of for an NFL player, but keep the chuckles innocent and let's all get on with our lives and let others live theirs.

Megan from Minnetonka, MN

So many different possibilities this offseason. The draft will be interesting.

Always is, and this is just the third draft since 2009 the Packers are entering with a pick in the top 15.

Drew from Croton on Hudson, NY

Wouldn't it also be cool if Bob Skoronski's grandson ended up having Vince Lombardi's grandson as his offensive coordinator?

Whether now or down the road, it seems inevitable those two careers will intersect at some point.

Doug from Neenah, WI

Good morning, Insider Inbox. Was it Mike or Wes who thought "mock draft" was just another name for non-alcoholic beer?

Had to be Wes, but any sports bar would be silly not to use the moniker for an N/A tapper, right?

Dean from Ottawa, IL

I understand the Packers do not release the details of new contracts, however do they announce when contracts are renewed or extended? My reason for asking is it has been reported that two players contracts have been extended.

Not really. Reportedly two more players, Preston Smith and Jaire Alexander, had their contracts restructured to create cap space for '23, so that's three restructures now including Aaron Jones. The Packers don't announce those because they aren't new deals or extensions.

Keith from Truro NS, Canada

Hey guys, with the Pack readjusting two more contracts to free up more cap space, does that give them a better chance of possibly being able to keep Lazard?

We shall see.

Brian from Sussex, WI

Now that the Packers have so much cap space, who are the big-name free agents they should go after? Welcome back Mike. ;-)

It's like I never left.

Jeff from Muskego, WI

Do you think the Packers should re-sign Mason Crosby?

Personally, I hope they do. Moreover, the league is full of self-created kicker conundrums that teams come to regret. But the Packers have legitimate cap concerns, so I honestly don't know which way this one's going to go.

Dan from Kenosha, WI

Mike, people wonder why Eric Bieniemy took what was essentially a lateral move. What I want to know is how much bringing Matt Nagy back played in him making that decision. Especially since Nagy has since replaced Bieniemy. It had to be a little awkward having the guy you replaced brought back. Just a thought on the human side of things.

I didn't look at it like that. Bieniemy took the Washington job so he can be a coordinator who calls plays, which was not his job in KC with Andy Reid at the controls. It's the same thing LaFleur did when he left McVay and LA for Tennessee to work under Vrabel. He had the same OC job title, but as the play caller, and one year later he became a head coach.

Jackie from New Freedom, PA

How much personal involvement does Matt have with the scouting season?

The personnel department will ask LaFleur and his staff to review film and write their own brief reports on certain prospects as part of the process. They also will meet with anyone the team brings in for a pre-draft visit and perhaps talk to prospects via Zoom if appropriate. In past years, the coaches were more involved at the combine with the meet-and-greets and interviews, but it sounds like those personal contacts with coaches are relegated to Green Bay only now.

Ted from Findlay, OH

Hello guys. I just read that Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson literally lived at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati his first two years in the league. If true, how would that even work? Could it happen in Green Bay? Are there sleeping accommodations at Lambeau for coaches and staff that put in long hours and don't want to drive home? Who protects the lunches that are left in the fridge?

There has to be some exaggerating going on there, but back when Ocho played, a lot of teams (Packers included) provided players all three meals during the day because in-season days could get really long. CBA restrictions since then have curtailed that somewhat. I've also seen player lounges with recliners that are as comfortable if not more so than some beds. The second floor digital department has no such lounge, though, thankfully.

Camden from Altoona, WI

Will Lambeau ever go to actual seats instead of bleachers?

I doubt it. Such a makeover would reduce the stadium's capacity by about 10K.

Terrance from Sun Prairie, WI

How many scouts do the Packers have on staff?

The personnel department, including Gutekunst as GM at the top, plus the directors/executives just beneath him, and all the scouts and support staff, totals 18-20 employees most years.

Jeremiah from Fitchburg, WI

A decade ago, top QB money was 20 million a year. Now, it's over 50 million. This is rising faster than college tuition. And like college tuition, I gotta think the bubble has to burst at some point. What will be the tipping point? Will teams start just drafting a QB every four years rather than pay a la running backs? Or will players have to take a reality check at some point?

The cap is roughly 90% higher than it was a decade ago, so the money was going to go somewhere. QB salaries have risen at a faster pace, yes, but it's awfully rare these days for a team to compete for a Super Bowl without an upper-tier QB. The 49ers were loaded enough they almost pulled it off this past year, but that loaded roster had to stay exceptionally healthy for them to be in that position (their 2020 season proved what can happen otherwise). Quarterback is the hardest position to play on the field and the most important to any team's success. That's the game now, and the salaries reflect it.

Dan from Cross Plains, WI

What type of education does Russ Ball and some of the other top NFL cap managers have? Seems like a good accounting background is required in order to keep track of all these cap moves.

They come from all realms. The Packers last two cap gurus, Andrew Brandt and Russ Ball, have very different backgrounds. Brandt got a law degree, became a GM for an NFL Europe team, and then an agent, before taking over player finance for the Packers. Ball began his career as a college strength and conditioning coach, got a graduate degree in human performance, and then eventually moved into administration and finance in the NFL. Having known both over the years, I've learned the job is about way more than numbers. It's about seeing all the pieces to the puzzle, big and small, how they fit, and projecting what the final picture can look like.

Etienne from St-joachim-de-tourelle, Canada

I miss the days when big news was breaking in while Spoff was on vacation.

Me, too. That was my most uneventful week away in quite a while. But I've some more time off coming up in March, so stay tuned.

Larry from Carney, MI

Hi Mike, did you ever write an Inbox at a rest stop?

Don't think so, but I did write one at a Culver's once. And another time I gave deadline approval for the Yearbook cover design from the parking lot of a coffee shop in Pittsburgh. I still made the first pitch of the Brewers game that night, too.

Adam from Rapid City, SD

Shout out to the amazing job you guys do providing reliable info on the best team in the NFL. My question is, during the void what is your favorite family activity to participate in?

Well, my kids are grown up now, so I guess I'd say … cocktail hour? Happy Monday.

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