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Inbox: Who saw that one coming?

Joe Barry is inheriting a good foundation upfront in Green Bay

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LB Krys Barnes

Phillip from Corona, CA

"And here I woke up ready to be pelted with late-night talk show questions." Brilliant Wes. That was awesome. I'm still laughing about that comment. Thanks for making me smile. Wish you guys the best.

I still don't know whether to be proud or ashamed.

Bill from Wilmington, DE

Wes, Good morning. Last year I brought this up and you thought it may be a good idea, but it was too close to the draft. How about the readers predict the Packers' first two picks of the draft and the closest gets Inbox respect?

You got a deal, Bill. We'll use the second-rounder as a potential tiebreaker. Let's plan on it the week of the draft.

Justin from Virden, IL

What is the highest compensatory pick that can be received?

The 97th pick, at the end of the third round. Last year, it was awarded to the Houston Texans for losing Tyrann Mathieu in free agency to Kansas City. Many factors are considered but Mathieu had the highest average-per-year salary of any unrestricted free agent.

Phil from Oshkosh, WI

Is there any chance that AJ Dillon and Dexter Williams could be next year's "Thunder and Lightning" running back duo?

Anything is possible, but I'd expect the Packers to address the running back position if neither Aaron Jones nor Jamaal Williams are back. It's a long season and you need to have more jars on the shelf than just Dillon and Dexter.

Rick from Trempealeau, WI

What is the status/future of Tyler Ervin? Haven't heard anything about him in a while and it appeared that the offense really missed him.

We never really got an update on Ervin after he was placed on injured reserve other than he was pretty much done for the year. That's the extent of what I know other than he'll be an unrestricted free agent next month.

Chun from El Monte, CA

Will this be the year we focus on ILB? Kamal Martin and Krys Barnes showed promise but perhaps we might be looking into free agency like Denzel Perryman, etc.

I'm not banking on free agency with all the areas the Packers need to address, but I've also struck out so many times trying to predict what the Packers will do at inside linebacker I've stopped swinging at this point. Barnes is a perfect example. Who saw that one coming? Both he and Martin look like they belong but it's up to Brian Gutekunst and Co. to determine if they want to add in another young guy to compete for a starting role.

Scott from De Pere, WI

Was your response to Brad from Brookfield asking about retaining Tim Boyle a shout out to the Buccaneers coach John McKay, who when asked by a reporter what he thought of his offense's execution, said "I'm in favor of it." If not, people need to check that out, pure gold.

A few of you caught that Easter egg.

Check out photos of every Packers touchdown during the 2020 season.

Keith from Fishers, IN

I was at the first preseason game in 2018; it was interesting to watch the QBs. I saw Brett Hundley not see open receivers, misfire on passes to receivers he saw, and receivers have to work too hard to catch inaccurate completed passes. I remember thinking I was seeing the beginning of the end of Hundley's Pack career, which turned out to be right. But Tim Boyle showed strong potential (he's not AR, but no one on the planet is). Do you think Boyle has NFL starting talent; have you seen enough to judge?

Boyle passes the eye test. He has the requisite size, intelligence and arm talent for the position. More importantly, all Boyle has done over the past three years is play well whenever given the opportunity. Boyle has shown he's much better than his college numbers suggest. I don't know when Boyle will get a chance to prove he can start for an NFL team but he deserves a look just like Mark Brunell, Matt Hasselbeck, Aaron Brooks, Doug Pederson, Ty Detmer and Matt Flynn before him. He's earned that.

Gary from Wildwood, MO

Hi Wes, thanks for the daily read. For games at Lambeau Field, who makes the overnight accommodations for the visiting teams? Do the Packers book the rooms, or is it up to each team to make their own arrangements? Just wondering, because it seems that the visitors always stay in the same hotel in Appleton.

Every team arranges their own travel. Director of Football Logistics/Team Travel Matt Klein handles that for the Packers. The reason the opposing team often stays in Appleton is because the Radisson Paper Valley has the rooms and event space to accommodate a large NFL team. They've also expanded as the NFL has expanded and there just aren't many large hotels in the region that can handle it.

Tony from Cary, NC

What would keep the Packers from putting the franchise tag on Aaron Jones and then trading him for a first- or second-rounder? This would give the Packers a higher draft pick than they would get in a compensatory pick. It would also give the other team exclusive rights to work out a long-term deal with Jones and not get into a bidding war.

The last two times the Packers used the tag it was to either trade that player (Corey Williams to Cleveland for a second-rounder in 2008) or buy time to agree on an extension (Ryan Pickett in 2010). Again, I'm making no predictions on what the Packers will do but certainly the franchise tag gives a team options.

Jacob from West Allis, WI

If you had a time machine that allowed you to go back and experience one season of Packers football what year would you choose and why?

1942. I'd love to see how discombobulated defenders were at the sight of Cecil Isbell and Don Hutson throwing the ball against their defense at will.

Dar from Mansfield, TX

From what I've read, it seems the Joe Barry-driven version of the Staley-Fangio defense could emphasize five-man fronts (three DL and two OLB), with only one traditional linebacker and five DBS (with the safeties usually two-deep). In your opinion, does this heighten the need to beef up the defensive line this offseason? Or lessen the need at any positions? The Pack's current, versatile safeties might really shine in this new defense.

From what I can tell having watched Fangio's defenses for the last decade, there's no hard-and-fast rule for personnel. Fangio had some elite inside linebackers and defensive lines at his disposal in Chicago and San Francisco, and developed his defense accordingly. Barry inherits a good foundation up front in Green Bay so those cards could be in play for the Packers. I'm champing at the bit to hear from Barry on what his plans are for this unit.

Ted from Amherst, NY

Wes, you mentioned players only get one shot at a life changing contact. Fans get awed by multimillion-dollar contracts, but people making millions also pay high taxes. How much can a mid-to-late round player (who doesn't get a second contract) expect to save over the course of a rookie contract? If you use the rule of thumb, they can live on 4% of that a year, plus their NFL pension, what kind of financial future can they expect? What kind of help do they get planning that?

The NFL, NFLPA and Packers have resources in place for players to prepare for life after football. Director of player engagement Grey Ruegamer leads those efforts in Green Bay, serving as an advisor on everything from career-planning to finding housing in the area after a rookie makes the team. As far as what player's take-home pay looks like, your guess is as good as mine. I'm not anywhere close to that tax bracket.

Mike from New Orleans, LA

Good morning Wes! Regarding the list Matt from Clarkston, MI, provided yesterday, in your opinion, should a player's statistics while playing on another team play a role in having the Packers retire said number? Obvious hypothetical to prove a point coming: If Tom Brady came to the Pack for one season and won a Super Bowl, I wouldn't expect his number to be retired.

No, I would think some longevity needs to be attained for that type of honor to be achieved. It's hard even with Julius Peppers, for example. He played for so long in Carolina and had his best years there. Likewise, I wouldn't expect the Buccaneers to retire Brady's number unless he plays there for six more years and wins another Super Bowl or two.

Avida from Vienna, VA

Hi Wes, do you expect that with there being no combine, college players opting out of the last season, and a shortened college season that we will see more later round and undrafted players slip through the cracks more so this year than prior years? Higher likelihood we see later round picks perform better than their draft position would indicate? Also, on another note, does Mike have a monopoly of Mid-Week chats? I'm sure there are many that would enjoy a 'Wednesdays with Wes' chat! Thank you.

It wouldn't surprise me at all to see a few late-round picks and undrafted free agents sneak up and earn a spot on next year's PFWA All-Rookie Team. GMs and scouts do this for a living but the pandemic created challenging blind spots, too. Every year, there are one-year college starters whose draft stock spikes because of what they put on film that year. Given the unique circumstances, it's plausible a few prospects could slip through the cracks. The Mid-Week chat is Spoff's baby and that is fine by me.

Andy from Verona, WI

How many restricted free agents do the Packers have this year and what would be the approximate cost to sign them?

The Packers have six restricted free agents, including tight end Robert Tonyan, cornerback Chandon Sullivan and defensive tackle Tyler Lancaster. The estimated tender values by OverTheCap.com are $4.7 for a first-round tender, $3.4 million for a second and $2.1 million for the right of first refusal. We'll have a full primer before the start of free agency.

Ron from Bellaire, MI

Wes, in reading what you had to say about the tight end room yesterday, did I miss the signing of Robert Tonyan?

It's been 18 years since the Packers lost a restricted free agent to another team, so I don't get the hubbub about me penciling in Tonyan on next year's roster. If you guys want to be alarmists and look for something to worry about, knock yourselves out. I want no part of it. One way or another, I'm confident the Packers will do right by Tonyan.

Bret from Hertel, WI

Dear Wes, welcome back and I'm glad you had a great break from us. The Packers Hall of Fame is great and Brent Hensel and his staff do an outstanding job of preserving Packers history. If you could pick any retired Packer(s) to go into the Packers Hall of Fame, who would it be and why? Thanks!

My answer will continue to be Fritz Shurmur. There aren't many assistant coaches in the Packers Hall of Fame but I feel Fritz is deserving of the posthumous honor for what he accomplished.

Randy from Clarksville, TN

After seeing a comment about Jerry Kramer, I thought about a time I was working in Coeur de Alene, Idaho at a Shopko, checking out customers, when who should place his purchases on my checkout but No. 64 himself. I said "You're Jerry Kramer! He said, "As far as I can tell, yes I am." We talked several minutes about Packers memories and then to my surprise, he let me try on the Super Bowl ring he was wearing! Three of my fingers could have gone into the ring. Oh, Patty Duke was next in line!

Coeur de Alene is one of my favorite places. It's beautiful and majestic. What's more, "As far as I can tell, yes I am" is going in the archives.

Duane from Oak Creek, WI

Where do you think the salary cap ends up at this year?

$181,924,699.98 or so, depending on whether a team remembers to bring the in-store coupon for $10 off fullbacks.

Aaron from Scottsdale, AZ

Not a question, just a comment. With the issue of retiring jersey numbers tradition, I can't help but think how little foresight the league had in its early years. Obviously, dating back decades, TV was not even a part of it. Revenue could not have been forecasted to be what it is today. Ginormous stadiums and tens of thousands of fans filling them. I'm sure when the idea of honoring a great player came up, no one thought, "Someday, we're gonna run outta numbers." It puts time in perspective.

You can't blame them. Most teams, including the Packers, were just trying to stay afloat back then. I doubt there was much concern over whether the 2021 squad would have enough numbers to play around with.

Take a look at some of the best smiles of the Green Bay Packers during the 2020 season.

Jeff from Wentzville, MO

Dennis from De Pere: "Jack Vainisi ... wall in Lambeau...?"

Wes: "That's above my paygrade but they are two of the most influential people in this franchise's illustrious history. ..."

Me: Wes, I'm almost twice your age but never heard of Vainisi before. Any links to packers.com articles on him?

I consider this 2016 story by Cliff to be one of the best accounts of Vainisi's life and lasting impact on the Packers.

Sue from Tomah, WI

Wes: Your Christmas present for your wife is so sweet! It's a wonderful idea. My suggestion to your wife would be to save those calendars and do scrapbooks of the years. Not to mention how many cute pictures you can put on a memory board for his high school graduation party! Cherish every memory--time flies by with your children.

I'm just thrilled we were able to bring my son to Lambeau a few times before COVID-19 hit. We took some timeless photos of him in the locker room, down on the field and around the facility. God only knows when we'll be able to do that again.

Mike from Las Vegas, NV

After learning about MMQB going pay per read, I thought I would share how I discovered II. About 10 years ago I read a daily chat from a local newspaper (you probably know the writers) and I loved it. Well, then they started requiring a subscription. I tried to go incognito for a while, but that eventually failed, so I searched around and found Ask Vic. And I have been a loyal reader ever since. Thanks for keeping it free! And real! I truly appreciate you two and the work you put in.

We appreciate you, Mike. Viva Las Vegas.

Steve from Wabasha, MN

I think you need to be flagged entering the neutral zone too early. Don't you think it would have been more effective to wait until Friday to throw Spoff under the bus twice? Really, who is going to remember those slams until Saturday or Sunday?

I just couldn't resist. I was too proud of both answers to only print one of them.

Greg from Kingsport, TN

Wes, are you suggesting only one Spofford can be cut post-June 1? I wouldn't recommend that as it would double you II workload.

Not at all. We need at least one Spofford. They're like long snappers.

Charles from Omaha, NE

Hello Insiders! I hope this finds you well and you are having a good day. I was curious: were your plans always to become sports reporters? Or did you just want to be a journalist but the sports jobs just kept coming?

I was either going to be a lawyer, a history professor or a journalist. Those three roads diverged in a green-and-yellow wood, and I took the one the bouncing ball traveled.

Ross from Roswell, GA

Gents, why does the possibility of a sold out and full Lambeau for that first preseason game put a smile on my face?

Because we just lived through a year in which there wasn't nearly enough smiling going on. Here's to a new year with more smiles.

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