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Inbox: Those who pass that test often go far

That’s how the pendulum swings in the NFL

WR Christian Watson
WR Christian Watson

Arthur from Eau Claire, WI

Probability is possibility, not inevitably! Wow! One day back from PTO and Wes knocks it out of the park with an awesome II T-shirt. Color me impressed! Well done, Wes. Well done!

We're back and cranking out zingers at warp speed. Happy Pi Day.

Terry from Green Bay, WI

Hi Wes. The new league year starts Wednesday. Aaron Rodgers is a regular on a sports show on Tuesday. And most importantly, Mr. Spofford is off. All the stars are aligned for something big to happen.

It was (mostly) all quiet on the Rodgers front – so much so that Pat McAfee led off his show by saying he had no news to report. We'll see if the QB jumps on today. In the meantime, the wait continues.

Dave from Germantown, TN

I just glanced through a list of the 100 best free agents and was surprised at the number of safeties on the list? Who are some of the safeties that might fit in with the Packers from a contract and performance standpoint?

It is a deep free-agent class. ESPN currently has 11 safeties in its top 100, including C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Jordan Poyer. It's hard to say who would be a good fit for the Packers with lingering questions about where Darnell Savage will play next season, but one of my personal favorites is Julian Love. I liked Love coming out of Notre Dame and he seemed to realize his potential last year in New York. Like Savage, Love has slot versatility, too. If Green Bay opts for the value route, though, Rudy Ford could be an option to re-sign. He had some moments in a part-time role.

Pat from Hudson, WI

Rookies go from their college season and bowl games to the combine, mini camps, preseason, and regular season with no real break to heal their bodies. Do you think that schedule can add to the probability of injury?

That's why veterans take time off after their season ends, right? Meanwhile, most incoming rookies jump right from their college season into combine prep. Once drafted, they're on the first plane to their new team and their NFL career is off and running. That is a tough turn for any player, but those who pass that test often go far.

Avida from Vienna, VA

Amazing to think Keisean Nixon went from last returning kickoffs in junior college to becoming an All-Pro in the first year doing it in the NFL.

It really is an incredible story. You know how we do business here. Nothing is official until it's official, but Monday's reports brought a smile to my face. Nixon has earned every cent coming to him with how he stepped up for this football team last season. Along with being the best returner the Packers have had in 25 years, Nixon is a solid coverage player and an accountable slot cornerback.

Jeffery from Brooklyn, WI

Hey II, I'm also excited for this season but not for the same reason as most. First, the second-year jump for the receivers, as all three have shown they can be productive in their own way. Second, and more curious, is can Quay Walker harness his abilities as you said? He seems to play with fire, and it has cost them a couple harsh penalties. I get it but let's hope he can learn to contain his flames and not lose his heat he brings to the defense. MLB looks solid again this season and going forward.

Everyone knows the score with Walker. He's a talented young man and it's all right there for him to be a playmaker in this defense. Walker knows the standard and I'm confident he'll meet expectations in 2023. He's too important to this football team to not be on the field at all times.

Ray from Phoenix, AZ

Are the Packers high on Caleb Jones? I went to two practices and saw him dominate the guy across from him. On fourth-and-1, I think he needs to be in there.

The Packers are extremely high on Jones. He was one of the team's most coveted college free agents, further evidenced by the fact they promoted him to the active roster one week into the regular season. Jones is blessed with incredible size, but he also put the work in to drop more than 30 pounds last season. The Packers have a strong track record for developing undrafted offensive linemen (e.g. Yosh Nijman, Lucas Patrick and Evan Smith). Jones is on his way to being the next.

Dominic from Chesapeake, VA

Wes, welcome back! For the first time, I feel like we are going to be without our MVP QB this year. Do you get the sense that our front office would welcome AR to play one more year if that is his decision or do you sense the Packers are trying to find a way to move on? Personally, I don't want to see him go.

Maybe I'm in the minority here, but I don't presume to know anything on the Packers' QB front. Because whenever I do lean a certain way, the wind seems to blow back in the opposite direction. As Brian Gutekunst said in Indy, all options are on the table right now. Rodgers is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He's earned the right to take however much time he needs to make this decision. Once Rodgers does, the Packers will plot their next move.

Dennis from Beavercreek, OH

Wes, the problem with comparing having three successful QBs in a row with picking the right number on a roulette wheel does not fit. In roulette, it is all chance. In having successful players, it is a lot of study before the pick and then lots of work developing the player. Maybe it is the scouting personnel and the coaches that are the difference.

That's a good point. It definitely would be a roulette spin if I'm doing the picking, but the Packers' brass does exhaustive research on prospects. There will always be unseen variables in scouting, but Green Bay saw enough potential in Jordan Love to move up and draft him. The fact the Packers remain this high on him three years later tells me everything I need to know.

Ron from Bellaire, MI

If Aaron Rodgers stays in Green Bay, there will be plenty of happy fans, but reading II, I think there will be a lot of unhappy and disappointed fans. What do you think?

That's the human condition. You're never going to get everyone to agree with everything. You can only do what's in the best interest of your football team. But as far as Rodgers staying or going, I'm waiting on press releases, not tweets. Until it's written in stone that Rodgers is no longer a Green Bay Packer, he's still QB1 here.

Blake from Itasca, IL

An extension from Tom from West Palm Beach's question: If we do decide to extend Love after seeing his play (we will, positively), do we still have enough money on the books for 2024? What does our financial future look like even if we tag Love?

Let's work through what's in front of us in 2023 before we start projecting a year from now. But keep in mind Green Bay was tight against the cap this year and still found room to take care of Elgton Jenkins. The Packers aren't allowing premium quarterbacks to just walk out the door without compensation.

Ken from New York, NY

Three of my friends are Jets fans, and they hate the idea of the Jets taking Rodgers because they want to see a young quarterback developed who can be "the man" for years to come. If this trade happens, do you think it means the Jets are giving up on the idea of developing a franchise QB?

That's how the pendulum swings in the NFL. If a team "misses" on a young quarterback it drafted high, it often chases a veteran to replace him – and vice versa. There obviously are exceptions (e.g. Kyler Murray and Josh Rosen), but that's usually how it goes. The Jets courting Rodgers makes sense on so many levels since it would be hard to draft another first-round QB after taking Zach Wilson at No. 2 just two years ago.

Darren from Wakefield, MI

Welcome back, Wes. We had this discussion in the II some years back. Now, should AR move on to a different team, where is he with beating all the teams in the league? Obviously one that he hasn't is GB. Also, who's in that elite group now? Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady? My memory is not great, and any research could be wrong, but I believe I'm missing one.

Drew Brees and Russell Wilson, too. Rodgers has wins over every NFL team besides the Packers. Rodgers has one regular-season win over Indianapolis (Oct. 19, 2008) and Pittsburgh (Oct. 3, 2021), though he also holds a fairly significant postseason W over the Steelers.

Richard from Canton, GA

On a wet, Sunday morning, where I was glad my daughters flag football had already been postponed so I didn't have to run in the rain, I stumbled on the full replay of Super Bowl XLV. Were you aware that the Packers had three fullbacks (John Kuhn, Korey Hall, and Quinn Johnson) on the squad that year? Things really have changed.

I was aware of that. The Packers actually started that 2010 season with more fullbacks on their 53-man roster than halfbacks (Ryan Grant and Brandon Jackson). To be fair, Kuhn's versatility helped to stem the tide, especially during that time between Grant being placed on injured reserve and James Starks returning from physically unable to perform.

Take a look at photos of Green Bay Packers LB De'Vondre Campbell during the 2022 NFL season.

Patrick from Folly Beach, SC

It just seems to me that the words "Legal" and "Tampering" don't belong next to each other. How does the NFL keep track of what's legal and what's tampering?

It's actually pretty simple. At 11 a.m. CT on Monday, it became "legal" for teams to negotiate with unrestricted free agents. "Tampering" occurs when a team speaks with a player currently under contract with another club, unless it was granted permission from that team (e.g. Rodgers and the Jets).

James from Chicago, IL

Adam Thielen is a free agent. How much money should the Packers throw at a 32-year-old receiver who hasn't played a full season in five years and whose recent production isn't any better than the WR currently on the GB roster? Also, can you agree that coming to GB he'll want revenge against his former team and that will be enough to get GB over the top? Just kidding. But seriously, how many Thielen emails have you received?

So far, this is the first and only one. It seems the Vikings have far more interest in Packers' personnel than the other way around.

Etienne from St-Joachim-de-Tourelle, Canada

If I was a quarterback that could only play in the AFC, I would choose the Titans for the easiest path to the playoff. AFC West and North are not going to be a cakewalk this year, and I never count out Steelers and Ravens.

Historically yes, but this isn't your grandpa's Jaguars. Jacksonville is nobody's underdog with Doug Pederson at the controls.

Mike from New Orleans, LA

Sports fandoms are such an interesting thing. In the NFL, most people glom onto a team early in life and stick with that team through the end. Basketball, however, seems to be a player-based preference with fans' loyalties following an individual around the league rather than a team. Any idea why this is? I would imagine the two fanbases are a large segment of the middle Venn Diagram sections.

It's an interesting question because I have friends who care more about specific NBA players than teams. Maybe it's how the NBA is marketed, but there is an even greater importance placed on "superstars" when there's only 12 active players on each roster. The very best rarely leave the court. Based on the schedule, the average fan is more likely to see LeBron James and Kevin Durant on TV during an 82-game season than Joe Burrow, Lamar Jackson or Davante Adams.

Louis from Milwaukee, WI

Can one answer their own II question? We will see if this gets published. Who wore No. 8 when Aaron Rodgers joined the Packers in 2005 and caused AR to pick another number? Ryan Longwell. Thanks for all you do, just trying to help with the workload.

This year's Outsider Inbox should have its own "Asked and (Self) Answered" section with the disclaimer: "According to my research, which could be wrong…"

Jake from Albuquerque, NM

Not seeing a lot of consternation between the playing and officiating in the XFL. Is the XFL rulebook much lighter?

For starters, there aren't nearly as many eyeballs on the XFL. But I also don't know how much there is to fuss about the officiating. Dean Blandino is literally explaining the calls and walking through replay reviews in real time. Agree or disagree, the calls are fully transparent.

Douglas from Bemidji, MN

I hope we have our answer before this would be posted, but I can't help but feel like Rorschach at the end of The Watchmen. "What are you waiting for? Do it!"

And how'd that work out for him? "Stay tuned"…and patient.

Kevin from Lake Forest, IL

Just a note to Kerry from Lakewood Ranch. As I recall, fans were salivating at the prospect of playing the "weak" NFC East last year. How did that turn out for the Packers?

About as well as Rorschach.

Sam from Greendale, WI

The suspense is terrible. I hope it lasts.

Nihil desperandum, my dear friend. Across the desert lies the promised land.

Andrew from Burke, VA

A quiet calm before the storm,

Although we have a hunch.

A note, from Spoff, left behind,

"I'm out, and I took your lunch!"

Longfellow couldn't have said it better. Have a fine Tuesday, folks.

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