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Inbox: We march on together

Lambeau Field
Lambeau Field
Lambeau Field

Blake from Itasca, IL

My thoughts are with Gary, his family, and all innocent parties involved. We are here for you.

This was an emotional weekend – and Inbox – for me. As a son, a grandson, a husband, a son-in-law, a godfather and a dad. Gary's story rocked me and I thought about him and his son quite a bit over the weekend. I cannot imagine what Gary and his family are going through. Please know, as Spoff said, you are all in our thoughts.

Stephen from Palos Park, IL

Welcome back Wes, and what a week that you took off. I am sure that you had to be keeping an eye on the news mid-week, on the Cornavirus that saw a lot of events being canceled or postponed. What were your thoughts with all sorts of events, including sports, being canceled, postponed, and the sports league suspending their seasons?

My thoughts aren't so much centered on what we lost but hopefully what we will gain from our actions over the last seven days. This whole thing has been a reminder of how delicate and precious life is – and how quickly everything can change. Spoff and I aren't doctors or rocket scientists. We're in the boredom-killing business. What we do pales in comparison to the men and women working around the clock to keep our country safe right now. I just hope Insider Inbox can be a temporary oasis from what we're facing. This week, I'm going to answer as many questions as I can – about football, about life, about anything you guys want. Just know I'm thinking of all of you and your families right now. Hopefully, we can all share a hot dog and a (root) beer together at a sporting event or concert in the not-too-distant future. Until then, we have to do what's right for our country. Now, let's get on with the questions. Good morning!

Jake from Eden Prairie, MN

What are your thoughts on the new CBA? Win-win?

For the most part. It's not perfect and I understand why some veterans have pushed back on it, but I am very much in favor of the increase in minimum salaries. That group accounts for more than half the players in the league, many of whom won't see lucrative second contracts. I think the reduction to three preseason games is the best part of the new deal. Giving teams an extra week to heal and prepare for the opener should only strengthen the regular-season product. I'm still not a huge fan of 17 games or the expanded playoff format but it is what it is. As Uncle Ellis once said, you can't stop what's coming.

Ryan from Chicago, IL

With the new CBA vote passing, I'm not concerned with a 17th game replacing a preseason game. I am, however, very concerned that an extra team in the playoffs will water down an already perfect playoff system and is extremely unfair to the No. 2 seed, which will no longer gets a bye.

No lies detected. I hope I'm wrong with my skepticism. Hopefully, wild-card weekend is thrilling with three games on Saturday and three more on Sunday.

Eric from Colorado Springs, CO

Unlike some other franchises, the Packers fill the stadium for their preseason games. What kind of an economic impact would it have on the community losing those preseason games?

My guess is the NFL will still aim to have 10 guaranteed home games, with teams that have only eight regular-season home games getting two home preseason contests and those with nine regular-season home games having only one. That's how I'd handle it, at least.

Dan from Rosthern, Saskatchewan, Canada

It seems the new CBA approval has sparked a wave of activity across the league. Might we see the Packers making some moves soon?

Maybe. The Packers now have a clearer idea of where things stand entering 2020 and beyond, so it could lead to them potentially re-signing a player or two. You also have to consider what potential impact the bump to minimum deals will have, too. It's going to be an interesting week. One way or another.

Terrance from Sun Prairie, WI

What areas can Aaron Jones improve his game on?

There aren't many holes left in Jones' game. He filled a lot of them last year. He's improved his pass-pro, route-running and ball-catching. Maybe ball security? Jones had three fumbles and two lost in 2019.

Monty from Hazen, ND

As I look at draft comparisons, seems like Zack Baun's comparison might be Tedy Bruschi. Both were edge players in college and considered undersized for the NFL. Bruschi ended up as a quality ILB in the NFL. Do you think Baun can have a similar path in the NFL?

I still would like to write that story I promised you guys on my 10 intriguing prospects but I ran out of time before vacation. Baun is on that list. I see him as equal parts Bruschi and Clay Matthews, a uniquely gifted talent who can fit in almost any defense. This is the most excited I've been about a linebacker prospect since Ryan Shazier. Whether he ends up in Green Bay or not, I can't wait to watch Baun's career unfold. He has a great story.

Chuck from Horicon, WI

I knew it was just a matter of time, but wow the Viking are cleaning out for cap space! More than $8 million in dead money. I always hate to look at the dead money on overthecap.com and always think that is poor money management! What's your thought when teams have a lot of dead money? Thanks for letting us read your website during this very, very dead zone time in sports! It keeps me going.

Dead money isn't always a direct reflection of poor cap management but is an indicator of missteps along the way. Consistent winners manage their checkbooks accordingly.

Paul from St. Paul, MN

Is keeping Lane Taylor for this season a realistic option for the Packers?

Yes. I've been saying this since the season ended. Taylor's contract isn't as large as everyone keeps saying it is. To me, it comes down to fit. If the Packers feel Taylor fits in the scheme, he's a great insurance policy to have on the O-line.

James from Mount Pleasant, WI

With Jimmy Graham gone, is Jace Sternberger the answer at tight end?

Sternberger doesn't have to be the answer but he needs to be part of it. At the moment, Sternberger is the only tight end with an accrued season signed for 2020. Robert Tonyan is an exclusive-rights free agent who must be tendered a contract and Marcedes Lewis is an unrestricted FA. Even if both are back, I think the Packers need to add a tight end through either free agency or the draft, but Sternberger is undeniably the future at that position.

Diane from Hot Springs Village, AR

I guess I was a little surprised to see Graham released this week. Any thoughts as to why?

A lot goes into these decisions, including past production, age/projection and salary. At the end of the day, everything has to line up and make sense. The answer to your question will come in the days and weeks ahead with how the Packers proceed at the position. Do they want to go younger? Do they have a veteran in mind who might be a better scheme fit?

Gary from Sheboygan, WI

Insiders, the value of extra sixth- and seventh-round picks keeps going on. Defenders keep mentioning the few successes but ignore the many failures. One year's sixth- and seventh-round picks usually last one or two years only to be replaced by another sixth- or seventh-rounder.

You'll never catch anything if you don't cast the line, Gary.

Sandy from Green Bay, WI

With the conclusion of the NFL's 100th season, what changes do you feel have been most significant in changing the nature of the sport? Keeping in mind that change doesn't always equal improvement and that some changes may have resulted in issues that have needed "fixing," do you think the game of football was better in its original, simpler form?

No. I think the game of football is better – and safer – today than it's ever been. You've seen the culture shift from physicality to finesse. What make today's NFL great are those dramatic, gravity-defying moments that make your jaw drop. The game can always be better but I think it's in a good place.

Jeff from Milwaukee, WI

Will the NFL Draft be postponed?

That's hard to say because I don't know how invested the NFL is in maintaining this spectacle the draft has become. In the absolute worst-case scenario, the draft can be handled remotely. The question is really where the dominoes fall over the next month and how the league wants to proceed.

Chris from Frederick, MD

Of these cuts that are popping up, is there one or two that have really surprised you?

Nothing has really surprised me so far. I get why the cap-strapped Vikings cut Linval Joseph but I still feel like the big defensive tackle still has good football in his future. Some of you have asked about possible "street" free-agent targets. Joseph would jump right to the top of my list.

Luke from Verona, WI

What do you think the first words out of Aaron Rodgers' mouth were upon hearing of the CBA passing?

No clue. I look forward to hearing what he has to say whenever the first offseason availability takes place. Rodgers is a leader and leaders have opinions. I'm glad he shared his on ESPN Wisconsin. Communication and the expression of ideas are critical in any negotiation, especially when it's one your union is going to be locked into for the next 11 years.

Lori from Brookfield, WI

When Mike wrote, "If you bat .400 with those five picks in the sixth and seventh, you're doing twice as well as batting 1.000 on one pick in the fifth," I wondered if the "No Math in the Inbox" rule still applies.

If it was a rally, I'd be the guy clapping and shouting "Yeah!" behind Spoff at the podium and then asking my wife to explain it to me on the way home.

Steve from Lake Stevens, WA

Can you explain the significance of a $10 million increase in the salary cap? It seems minor compared to the way salaries tend to increased.

It's a complicated formula but that number is based on total revenue that's divided amongst the league's 32 teams.

John from Yakima, WA

At the end of a season, is it permissible for a club to be under the salary cap but over the overall pay cost due to unexpected bonus paid (i.e., not expected to be earned)?

If a player hits an unlikely to be earned bonus, that incentive doesn't count against the cap until the following year. It's no different than when a team is awarded credit toward the next year's cap if a player doesn't hit a likely to be earned incentive.

Nick from Hartford, WI

What is a transition tag?

It gives teams the first right of refusal on any contract a perspective unrestricted free agent may sign. It's not as expensive as the franchise tag but it also doesn't award a team draft-pick compensation if the player signs elsewhere. The franchise tag would net the previous team two first-rounders.

Eric from Reedsburg, WI

Will you be doing a breakdown of the new CBA details?

Yes. Later today.

John from Green Bay, WI

What are the key factors when the college player wants to enter the NFL Draft?

Value. It's like the stock market. Each player wants to maximize his value. Every player's situation is different but any early entrant must look within himself and do what's best for him and his family. Furthermore, I'll never fault a running back for declaring after three years. Their clock is already ticking.

Dave from Savannah, GA

With the XFL closed down early and players available to sign right away, do you see any chance the Packers will sign a few of the stars from that league? Personally, I would love to see QB Jordan Ta'amu in the Green and Gold!

We shall see. The Packers didn't sign anyone from the AAF last year but maybe they'll find a XFL alum they like.

Unpaid Intern from Zissou Society, International Waters

Welcome back, Wes. Do the UDFAs get their own lockers, or do they all share one?

I needed that laugh. Thank you. All undrafted free agents get their own lockers – except in small road venues during the preseason. Several undrafted rookies had to share in Oakland two years ago.

Rod from Chugiak, AK

Hi Wes, to help point out shortcomings (stupidity?) this past week I loved Mike's leaving inane submissions in their writer's exact poor English. On the other hand, I have appreciated the couple of times you have plumbed up my own submissions a wee bit either to help you make a point or keep my writing from looking bumbling. Sometimes with only a flick of your finger on the keyboard you can show care to your faithful and true. And you probably do that more often than we know. Thanks and thanks.

Depending on who's asking the question, there are some days when it's so tempting to just leave it. But we strive to publish a clean column.

Nate from Pueblo, CO

Mike and Wes, were you the first sports writers to be cloned? Are you making Spoff and Hod do all the dirty work?

That really took on a life of its own, didn't it?

Daniel from Delta, PA

This question might be better suited for Wes, or possibly even Hod, but seeing as he retired due to multiple injury concerns, what do you make of Gronk joining WWE? The wrestling world will undoubtedly benefit from his personality but it just seems like it's not a safer alternative.

Given his friendship with Mojo Rawley (a.k.a. former Packers defensive lineman Dean Muhtadi), it seemed like only a matter of time before Gronk joined the WWE. I can't imagine Gronk will be a full-time wrestler, though. I could see him working a Brock Lesnar schedule.

Geoffrey from Rosemount, MN

Watching the PBA today, with no fans aside from family members, is really weird.

I watched UFC Brasilia under the same circumstances. What a strange new world we're living in…but a necessary one.

Jake from Shoreview, MN

With COVID-19 raging across the country, does Green Bay really wanna host a draft?!?!?!

Well, not in six weeks. But yeah, eventually.

Chris from Frederick, MA

Why did no one listen to Davante Adams when he told us all to "Wash your hands and wash your butts"?

Adams is pretty good at branding. Maybe he should trademark that line?

Jim from Marengo, WI

If possible, please tell people we're all in this together and help our senior population if you can as they most certainly will be anxious or frightened. Be kind to each other...we shall get through this. Thank you.

Absolutely. Please be mindful of our senior citizens. They're among the most at-risk in our population and also the ones who may be least equipped to distance themselves physically from grocery markets and stores.

Paul from West Allis, WI

I would like to thank ALL the people involved in the Packers informational process. I have lost a nephew, uncle and sister in these past five months. One of Lombardi's best quotes is on the priorities in life. While I enjoy the content, let's not lose focus on enjoying the short time we have with those we hold dear. Bless you all.

Well put. My thoughts and sympathies are with you, Paul.

Ken from New York, NY

Keeping to myself is beginning to take its toll. I hope we continue to hear from you guys through this.

These days, weeks and months to come will not be easy. Our mettle and resolve will surely be tested. I'm kind of glad we have this column to steer us through it. Personally, this edition was somewhat therapeutic. We march on together. Talk to you tomorrow.

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