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Inbox: Those in the know…know

Consistent winners build through the draft, not free agency

Head Coach Matt LaFleur

Craig from Brookfield, WI

What is your take on how Matt LaFleur is regarded around the league? He's 28-8 as a head coach, and likely doesn't get the attention he should because he stepped into a great organization with a top QB. But on the latter, it's no small thing to manage a very smart, face-of-the-franchise player and have him return to MVP form – at age 37, and in the second year of a new system. Personally, I don't think LaFleur is yet getting the accolades he deserves.

I don't know why LaFleur hasn't gotten more love in the Coach of the Year voting. Again, I know he does not care but it's still annoying. In football circles, however, LaFleur is held in high esteem. He wouldn't be in the position he is right now at just 41 years old if he wasn't. Those in the know…know.

Jason from Austin, TX

If there were ever a year to have a lot of draft picks, it's this year and next year. This year because of the uncertainty of the players being drafted due to the wacky '20 college season means you have to throw your picks on a wall and see what sticks. The more the better. Next year because of all the players that held out last season because of COVID and are opting to play another college season to get back in the swing of it. The '22 draft could be the most talent-rich draft we've had in years.

Consistent winners build through the draft, not free agency. Because even during a normal year, you cannot afford to pay premium money for free agents to fill out your starting lineup. You need to find a Pro Bowl running back like Aaron Jones in the fifth round or a Day 1 starter like Elgton Jenkins in the second. The Packers have 10 at-bats right now. Hitting a high average on those selections will keep this team competitive in 2021 and beyond.

Collin from Kirkwood, MO

Thanks for your feedback on this being a great year for the Packers to trade up in a big way. Your answer made a lot of sense if we were only playing with 2021 chips. However, it only focused on picks in the 2021 draft. No team would trade this whole draft to move up. The deal may include a swap of picks from this year, 2022 and maybe 2023 depending on the caliber of the player. Why would the Packers not explore trading future picks for a generational talent? It applies to future and now.

That's just not how the Packers operate. Call me conservative, but I feel like that's the right approach. Leveraging future draft assets can get teams into hot water. This is an extreme example but look at what happened after the Texans traded for Laremy Tunsil two years ago. Houston expected to be contending for a Super Bowl. Instead, that first wound up being the third overall pick.

Joe from Swansea, IL

"Delta miles." "Slivers of sun." Maybe I should get out more, but sometimes I measure the quality of my day by the chuckles I get from the II. And Thursday we got the added bonus of a moving tribute to Alvin Sr. Thanks, both you guys, for filling our offseason with Packers chat. For all the gripes you get, remember that's a fraction of the readers who enjoy and appreciate what you do every day. To quote my favorite "Star Trek" captain, "Nicely done, Wesley (and Spoff)."

Alvin Sr. was a special guy. I think the greatest tribute to both Alvin Sr. and Vurgess is how Aaron has carried himself during his four years in Green Bay. Aaron has to be the most respectful athlete I've covered, at any level. I can't think of one instance where he raised his voice at a reporter. One quick testament to the family's humility, Aaron recently told Larry that the car he drove to Green Bay to sign his extension was the same one he and Alvin Jr. drove in high school – all 214,000 miles of it. Incredible.

Take a look at photos of Green Bay Packers RB Aaron Jones through the years.

Tim from Greensboro, NC

During my trip to GB in 2018, to fulfill my only bucket-list item, I met the Joneses at O'Hare. His mom was wearing a No. 33 jersey. Not knowing, I asked if she was a relative or fan. She warily responded she loved Aaron Jones. I told her me, too, and I thought he should play more. She then told me she was his mom. I had a very pleasant conversation with them. They were gracious, pleasant and funny. When talking to Alvin about his boys, he sparkled. Condolences to the Jones family.

If I learned anything from my exposure to Alvin Sr., it's make the most of every moment you have with family. If you gotta work, you gotta work – something my wife frequently reminds me of. But when you're home, be there for your children. I'm so thankful Alvin retired from the Army when he did and was able to be there for his sons' games at UTEP and Aaron's in Green Bay. I hope Aaron takes comfort in that during this very difficult time.

Chris from Clive, IA

Good morning! Are you surprised that we haven't really seen a second wave of free agency yet? At this point, do you think most of those deals will be on hold until after the draft?

That's where we're seeing the impact of the lowered salary cap. Richard Sherman had a good line the other day about how this is the point where he'll wait for all the dust to settle and then sign with a team that doesn't find the young corner it was holding out for in the draft.

Dar from Mansfield, TX

I see players who outperformed their contracts were this week awarded money as part of the NFL's performance-based pay system. Does this money count against the salary cap? I assume it's paid now, as sort of an offseason bonus?

No, it doesn't count against a team's cap. That's a pool of money written into the collective bargaining agreement that is used to reward players who played a lot of snaps relative to their contract. I won't share the player's name but I remember explaining this to a former undrafted free agent about five years ago. He lit up like a Christmas tree when he realized he was going to be coming into some unexpected money.

Nathan from Philadelphia, PA

First of all, thanks for writing the Draft Digest series! The draft value chart may say trading a late fourth-round pick should only move you up a couple spots in the first round, but the Packers traded almost that exact same pick last year to move up four spots and draft Jordan Love. I think teams have realized that first-round picks aren't worth quite as much as Jimmy Johnson thought. That said, even if the Packers could trade up to 24 or 25, is there any player or position that would be worth it?

Think of the draft value chart like MSRP. It's the assigned value of draft picks, but not the only acceptable rate on the secondary market. Some teams will value a player enough to give up more than what the chart says, while others sometimes will move back for less because of how the board looks. It doesn't mean first-rounders are any less valuable.

Nathan from New Berlin, WI

In response to Matty from Durango, the Cowboys picked a guy named Larry Brown in the 12th round of the 1991 draft mainly because he was from nearby TCU and transportation would be cheaper. Fast forward five years and he was Super Bowl MVP. I'm not sure how many other teams used that draft strategy, but it worked in that instance.

It happens more than you think. How fortunate were the Vikings to have Adam Thielen in their backyard? The same was true for the Packers in 1994 when they drafted Bill Schroeder out of UW-LaCrosse.

Joshua from Houston, TX

Is it possible to get to the draft without looking at one mock draft? I'm going to attempt to so I don't get hung up on any one player.

That sounds like an oxymoron to me.

Chase from Fort Leonard Wood, MO

Good morning team. The "Draft Digest: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame" doesn't read like a player that will be available in the late first round. Why is he projected to go in the 20s if he was one of the best defensive players last year? His stat line is pretty impressive. Thanks.

I'm still gathering information on this year's draft class, but it seems to have plenty of players with first-round grades. With how many QBs likely will be taken in the top 15, there's going to be a couple top players at their respective positions who'll slip into the 20s. And the Packers will be there waiting to pounce.

Matt from Fort Worth, TX

Our three best edge rushers have first names for last names. Should we read into that any further when looking to draft/sign future edge rushers?

Smith is a first name? I have to say I don't know a lot of Smiths.

Tyler from Fox Crossing, WI

I saw the Lions punter had a rule proposal awarding one point for a kickoff that goes through the uprights. What an interesting idea that could make up for a missed PAT or extend leads potentially. It won't happen but what an interesting way to bring not only excitement to special teams, but put more value on specialist players. Do you have any thoughts?

You're right. It won't happen. But I still love the idea. I remember thinking, "I'm just being silly," but Mason Crosby being open to the idea lent it some credibility.

Thomas from Rowlett, TX

Aaron Rodgers' preparation and execution on Jeopardy is pretty amazing. On the football field he obviously has physical talents, but do you think the majority of his success is attributed to his above-average preparation?

I wouldn't say it's the reason behind a "majority" of his success but it's certainly a contributing factor. Rodgers is the total package – from what's going on between the ears to his arm strength and accuracy. But a high IQ counts for little if you don't pick up the textbook – and that's something Rodgers has never been afraid to do.

Margeaux from Tallahassee, FL

Which one of the Draft Digest players presented so far would you like to see in a Packer uniform in 2021?

I remarked to my boss that Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley, whose Digest has yet to run on our website, has the look of a "Packers" person to me, though it's doubtful he's there at No. 29. He's a leader, makes plays, possesses great size for a corner and has an inspiring backstory.

Dex from Madison, WI

Good morning friends, all the recent chatter about games overseas has me wondering. What is the NFL's ultimate goal in scheduling intercontinental games? Is it simply to increase brand exposure in hopes of generating additional revenue through advertising, merch sales and TV revenue? Are there plans to create a full-fledged standalone European league? Do they believe one or two expansion teams playing games against the rest of the league on a weekly basis would even be possible?

It's all about exposure – because exposure means dollars. It's no different than the Premiership wanting to make inroads in the states. As for NFL expansion overseas, I don't see that happening in my lifetime unless it's a reboot of NFL Europe. Too many concessions would have to be made to send a professional team abroad.

Jeff from Eveleth, MN

Looking at the photos of Curly Lambeau from Friday's column, I had to wonder. Was "Curly" his actual given name, or a nickname given to him based on that awesome head of hair? I'm a bald man that needs to know.

That's correct. And Earl Lambeau just doesn't have the same ring to it.

Curly Lambeau, who co-founded the Packers in 1919, served as head coach through 1949 and led the Packers to six NFL titles, was born on April 9, 1898.

Mark from Richardson, TX

Good Morning Spoff/Hod and II readers. In response to Zak from Somis, CA, I thoroughly enjoy the smart-aleck responses and hope they keep coming.

Wanna know what's funny? I almost responded to that question with "OK" the day before but then deleted it because Inbox was too long. I laughed when I saw Spoff had the same response the following day. Great minds think alike, right?

Dan from Morehead City, NC

After reading all the complaints about questions about non-Packers related questions, I realized I must have missed the rule that it was mandatory to read all the questions and answers. I had been skipping over questions that I didn't care about, is this going to get me banned?

I'm not sure if I should be honored or insulted. Maybe hon-sulted? But yeah, nobody is requiring you to eat every Skittle in the bag. Grab the ones you like and get on with your day.

Sawyer from Simpsonville, SC

I guess Mark from Byron, IL, and Zak from Somis, CA, must've never read Vic in the offseason because all the baloney would be flying until the season. Then, the baloney stops (and I don't mean baloney).

That baloney wasn't lost on me, either.

Sue from Tomah, WI

To all of those readers who complain about IIs Q&A on other WI sports: If you don't like it, don't read it! I sometimes get lost in all the details of drafts, contracts, etc., so I simply skip to the next question. Readers who are interested in those details get their answers, and my day is not ruined if I skip forward. So what's the big deal?

Correct. If you're annoyed by how Spoff and I run the bingo around here, feel free to frequent any of the other Q&As with Packers beat writers that post six times a week.

Robert from Glasgow, DE

Wes: The issue of "nonsense" questions and not every fan cares about other Wisconsin sports. The Inbox reveals the worldwide fan base, as the Pack were the first "America's Team." But at least 50% of Packers fans see the Pack as Wisconsin's team, with the old Braves, Brewers, Bucks, Marquette, all Badger teams, Andy North, Stricker, Whistling Straits, Erin Hills, muskies and walleyes. Give me my daily fix of the Inbox, the Milwaukee and Madison papers. Love all Wes and Mike's comments.

And we love you, Robert from Glasgow, Delaware.

Sam from Germantown, WI

Gee dang it, Mike/Wes. Why can't you guys only answer the questions I'm interested in and in ways that I, specifically, will agree with? I swear, if you guys don't do this column perfectly 13 or 14 more times, I'm out of here.

Maybe this year's Inbox fan of the year should get to ask all 15-20 questions for the following day's Inbox. Kind of like how the winning panelist on "Around the Horn" gets 30 seconds to spout his/her take.

Shannon from Ovilla, TX

Hey Mark and Zak! I read this column daily for Packers news, opinions, and entertainment. Reading about laser goalposts, the No. 88, other Wisconsin sports teams and Culver's bonds us together. Snarky responses make the column more relevant. The personality shown by Mike and Wes and regular writers such as Margeaux, Dean, Derek, Dar and others makes me feel like this is a community. If you want football-only questions and answers maybe try another forum. Thanks for all you do Mike and Wes!

And that's why we're here. Have a weekend, everybody.


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