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Inbox: This NFL escalator never stops

Whether you pick or trade, the key is to maximize the value of your first-round selection

LB Rashan Gary
LB Rashan Gary

Jeff from Indian Lake, NY

Pick 15 is an interesting draft position to be in. Not quite high enough to grab a top-of-the-draft talent but not low enough to be selecting a borderline first-rounder. I remember Brian Gutekunst talking about how deep the last two drafts were because of how many players returned to school following COVID. Do you know if this draft class is regarded as deep all the way through? Preparing myself for the scenario where I stay up past my bedtime to watch the Packers pick just for them to trade back.

I can't speak to the overall depth of this year's draft, but it appears to be a strong year to pick in the first half of the first round, especially with four possible top-10 quarterbacks. Depending on how the board falls, the Packers could be in a spot to be taking the best offensive tackle, receiver, or safety at No. 15. Or they could be selecting a top edge or defensive lineman. Or, to quote the great Ted Thompson, the Packers "will get a very good player."

Derek from Sheboygan, WI

Should the Packers trade down in Round 1 and pick up some extra draft choices?

That depends on how the board looks after the first dozen picks or so. Gutekunst has played it both ways. He traded out of No. 14 (before moving back up and landing Jaire Alexander at 18) in 2018. The next year? He stood pat at No. 12 and picked Rashan Gary. Whether you pick or trade, the key is to maximize the value of your selection. The top GMs are cognizant of their situation and plan accordingly.

Kevin from Indianapolis, IN

I've thoroughly enjoyed the consistency and competitiveness of the last decade and a half. That being said, I can't remember a year I have been more excited to see play out than the coming one. We have a higher than usual draft pick coming up. We'll learn a lot about the coaches with a new QB and a highly talented defense. The division race will be more competitive than it has been recently. There appears to be so much opportunity, and I am intrigued! What else are you excited to see?

The future. I mean, how many times have you all asked who will succeed Aaron Rodgers as Green Bay's QB? Well, now we know. I appreciate all the memories Rodgers and this football team have provided over the past 15 years, but this NFL escalator never stops. This will be a new team in 2023, with new goals and challenges. I'm excited for the ups, downs, and everything between.

Shawn from Kissimmee, FL

Why would a player take a deal that has an obvious back-loaded contract where history shows they normally get cut after they play out the affordable beginning half of a contract? Sometimes you hear this amazing sounding four-year contract until you see Year 3 has an annual salary that is unrealistic and most likely a "potential out" spot in the contract and it happens. So, I understand the big push for guaranteed money in contracts.

Guaranteed contracts are the goal for players, but only quarterbacks have ventured into the "fully guaranteed" territory so far. In my opinion, I think it's just as important for players and their representation to run the numbers on which teams honor the full duration of their contracts. For the past decade, the Packers have been one of the most trustworthy in terms of keeping their word on deals, especially when re-signing their own players. Things happen that occasionally result in players being cut here and there, but it's never for poor bookkeeping in Green Bay.

Ray form Phoenix, AZ

Thanks guys, for my Packers fix every day. The talk here in Phoenix on all three sports stations is DeAndre Hopkins can be had for a second-round pick in this year's draft. Therefore, if the Rodgers deal is completed prior to the draft and GB gets the Jets' second-rounder this year as part of the deal, I feel you trade one of the two GB second-rounder for Hopkins. When healthy, Hopkins is better than any receiver in this year's draft and Packers get their productive vet in the wide receiver room right away – agree?

I'm sure that is the talk in Phoenix, but it's as much about the dollars involved than it is the draft picks. The team compensation is only part of the equation. Any team that executes a trade with Arizona must either work out a restructure with Hopkins or clear room to absorb his contract.

Mark from San Antonio, TX

Do you see the Packers trying to pick up a guy like Hopkins if the Cardinals cut him? Seems like they may try to bring him for similar reasons as signing Sammy Watkins last year.

Hopkins getting cut would change things, but I highly doubt that happens. Although Hopkins will turn 31 in June, I still think he's too valuable for the Cardinals to just let him walk.

Joe from Ormond Beach, FL

Establish the run has been the mantra for three years. I think it will happen this year because Jordan Love will be less likely to check out of run plays. I believe the main factor the previous two years has been Rodgers checking out of the run because he preferred to pass. Thoughts?

Again, I'm not going to deliberate RPOs. Green Bay benefitted significantly from Rodgers' keen eye for diagnosing plays at the line of scrimmage. With a first-year starter at QB, it makes total sense to put the ball more in the hands of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon.

Don from Aurora, Ontario

If I was a defensive coordinator facing the Packers and Love early in the upcoming season, I'd be stacking the line of scrimmage and force JL to beat me with his arm. Do you think at least early on we will see defenses do this?

I'm sure coordinators will throw the sink at Love and see if they can rattle the young QB. It doesn't mean they'll be successful, though. Again, I've been most impressed by Love's poise. He does not sweat under pressure. The mistakes Love makes – and there will be early mistakes – won't be due to panic. If he passes that test, Love soon will be dictating how the opposition must defend him.

Samuel from Skokie, IL

The other day the offensive linemen were listed. Caleb Jones was not on the list. He impressed me as he was dominant in last year's preseason. Did he just look good due to the level of competition? He has great size, and in those games, he looked quick enough, but I am watching on TV and in person it's different. What's his status?

To be fair, the Packers have like 15 offensive linemen under contract right now. Like Yosh Nijman, Green Bay viewed Jones as a long-term prospect at tackle, but I liked everything I saw from him as a rookie. Jones obviously put in the time and effort to get in the best shape of his life last season, and I thought it translated. He looks very agile for a man his size.

Scott from Palos Park, IL

Peter Skoronski would be a very cool pick for the Packers due to the history but there is a potential concern about shorter arms as you guys noted in the primer. Does that typically lead to a move to RT in the NFL, and could that push him down the board to still be there at 15?

It could be enough to cause Skoronski to sit for a few hours on the first night of the NFL Draft, but it also could be scouting subterfuge. Skoronski's arms measured in at 32¼ inches. Comparatively, Bryan Bulaga (33¼ inches) had his own arm-length questions when he entered the league but still was a top NFL right tackle for a decade. Skoronski possesses elite athletic gifts and is as smart as humans come, so I think he'll be fine wherever he plays. Even in the worst-case scenario, I think he'd be fine bumping inside to guard.

Scott from Hudson, WI

How much of this Aaron Rodgers info is true? "Rodgers said he went into his four-day darkness retreat 90% sure he would retire, but upon completion he heard the Packers were shopping him in trade talk." He said he was told after the season to take his time to decide whether he wants to play and wished the Packers had told him they didn't want him anymore and wanted Jordan Love to be their quarterback. "They're ready to move on," Rodgers said. What are the facts? I don't believe any of it.

I'm not the ombudsmen of who said what. I deal in objective truth. Whatever happened, the end result is Aaron Rodgers wanting play for the New York Jets and the Packers being open to a trade. I am sitting patiently on the sideline until a resolution is struck.

Chip from Bev Hills, MI

Do you think flipping 15 for 13 in the first round is part of the negotiation?

I'm sure everything has been discussed in talks between Gutekunst and Joe Douglas. It would only make sense that Green Bay would want to jump up two spots, but at what cost? There's a 100-point difference between No. 13 and 15 on DraftTek's draft-value chart, which is in the neighborhood of a third-round compensatory pick.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

The Packers and the Jets are in a bit of a pickle. Neither team can afford to have this trade not happen. I propose binding arbitration. Listen to each team's reasoning for an hour and then have each submit two proposals, one that includes the Jets' first-round pick and one that doesn't. Twenty-four hours later, the arbitrator picks one and it's done. I suspect in 24 hours they'd get it worked out themselves. P.S: Tell Gutey I'm available.

We'll just have to omit the part about you being a former MVP of the team website's daily column. Like Mike Pettine's illusion of complexity on defense, Dean from Leavenworth's illusion of impartiality must be protected at all costs.

Spence from Thermopolis, WY

I know it's a little late, but I found it fun to ponder. If you had to pick one player from the recent NCAA tournament to try out for the Packers, who would you select? I'd go with Adama Sanogo from UConn.

I'll stay in Storrs but go with Tristen Newton instead. He seems to have the genes for it.

Mike from New Orleans, LA

Are starts an official NFL stat? If so, how are they determined? Is it simply the players on the field for the first play? If our defense's first play requires a sub-package do those players get the starter designation, or is it the player on top of the depth chart for a base package? What about special-teamers? Do all kickoff/kick return players get a start under their belts?

The first 11 offensive and defensive players on the field get credit for starts – not special teams. While Mason Crosby has played in 258 consecutive regular-season games for Green Bay, Crosby's consecutive "starts" streak remains at zero.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

The Packers Tailgate Tour will be stopping in Eau Claire this afternoon. I know one particular 8-year-old boy who is very excited about that. What is your favorite childhood memory of meeting /seeing a player?

When I was 6, my family went to the NASCAR Winston Cup time trials at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. My dad and I were walking around the infield when we spotted Dale Jarrett signing autographs. Pa Hod lifted up a young Hod and Jarrett reached through a mass of humanity to sign my NASCAR yearbook. I still have it, by the way. That was my first interaction with a professional athlete. I can't thank Jarrett enough for that memory.

TK from Grafton, WI

Can the rights to a player be traded before that player signs a contract?

Only when it's a draft pick who hasn't yet signed his NFL rookie contract…or Spoff.

Zak from Huntington Beach, CA

I was just on Wikipedia, reading about the city of Green Bay, and I learned that it's known as the "Toilet Paper Capital of the World" because of its paper industry. I also learned that "splinter-free" toilet paper wasn't sold until the early 1930s, which begs the question: Would the Packers be subject to discipline from the league if they stocked the visiting locker room with TP from the 1920s?

I'm gonna have to defer to Cliff on that one…and he may well defer it right back to me.

Jay from Altoona, WI

I saw recently on social media that Wes is a fan of a certain meat market in Stangelville. My favorite item would be the wieners, but the brats, ring bologna, and meat sticks are also top notch. There is definitely a heavenly aroma when you open their door. What is your go-to product from there?

Their venison beef jerky. For my money, it's the best in the state.

Jim from University Park, MD

I told my 96-year-old brother, who lives in Green Bay, that people have been writing in about the first Packers game they attended. My brother said the first game he attended was with our dad in 1935. It was Don Hutson's first game also. On the first play from scrimmage, Hutson caught a pass from Arnie Herber in front of the Bears' Beatie Feathers and outran Feathers the rest of the way for a TD.

Simply remarkable, though that was Hutson's second game. The Packers lost 7-6 to the Chicago Cardinals a week earlier. However, Hutson registered his first NFL catch on the play you outline. Fittingly, it was an 83-yard touchdown and the lone score in a 7-0 win over the Packers over George Halas' Bears at City Stadium. It was the longest catch Hutson had until his career-long 92-yard TD in 1939.

Kevin from Louisville, KY

The latest U.S. mass shooting happened less than two miles from my house in a neighborhood I frequent, and once again football seems far, far less important than it does most days. Thanks for what you guys do, which is provide a fun and informative distraction during times like these, and please, everyone, hug your family and friends every chance you get.

I am terribly sorry to hear that, Kevin. I've been to Louisville several times. It is a beautiful and vibrant city. Yes, these moments put a lot into perspective. I'm praying for you, and all the individuals affected by this heartbreaking tragedy.

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