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It's a QB-driven league in countless respects

The NFL is about proving you belong first


Kevin from Tucson, AZ

Insiders, besides both being Jersey boys, are there any indications of possible chemistry (or friction) between Wilkerson and Daniels? I almost anticipate some chest bumping, but that could be a good thing.

Judging by their Twitter banter, they should get along just fine.

Daniel from Appleton, WI

What was it like the first time you walked into the Packers locker room full of players as a reporter? I feel like there would be a mixed bag of emotions when you are green in your field.

My introduction was a tad unusual. Working at the Wausau Daily Herald, the first game I covered was the 1996 NFC Divisional playoff vs. San Francisco (the mudbath), so I walked into an already cramped locker room – the Lambeau renovation was still seven years away – with a huge throng of reporters covering the playoffs and caked mud from cleat bottoms all over the floor. And I mean all over. I was just trying to survive it and get the job done.

Alex from Eau Claire, WI

Social media is alive with debate on the Packers-Bears-Fuller deal. Please explain how there can be such drastic and contrasting viewpoints on this? Some say the Pack negotiated a great deal for the Bears' benefit, others say they outsmarted them and forced the Bears into making an offer they didn't want to have to make. Give us absolution on this subject, please.

I don't know about absolution either way. The Packers thought they valued Fuller more than the Bears did. They were wrong. Life goes on. That's what's so weird about the transition tag. You just end up negotiating the other team's contract, unless you're obviously overpaying. Now we have to see what Gutekunst's backup plan is at corner.

Ryan from Oshkosh, WI

Can an NFL team make an offer to a transition-tagged player again if the original team matches the first offer?

Nope. Once the tagged player signs the offer sheet, that's his contract, either from the new team or the old team, depending on what the old team decides.

Venny from Montgomery, AL

While I really like the Jimmy Graham signing, I wonder how much of his production is related to who he had throwing to him. Brees, Wilson, and now Rodgers. Those three can definitely help inflate the production of a WR or TE.

Good quarterbacks find the right matchups. At 6-7, 265, Graham is a tough matchup for any defense.

Doug from Las Cruces, NM

Do you think losing Jordy can have the same effect on Rodgers as losing Megatron had on Stafford? Stafford had one of his better years and spread the ball a lot more instead of trying to force it to Johnson all the time. I really think Aaron will be able to spread it around even more especially with the signing of Graham.

I don't recall Rodgers ever forcing the ball to Nelson unnecessarily, and no offense to Nelson, Jennings, Driver or anyone else, but they aren't Hall of Famers. Megatron is/was one. So I don't see the comparison.

Jimmy Graham has registered 556 receptions for 6,800 yards (12.2 avg.) and 69 touchdowns (No. 4 in NFL history among tight ends). Photos by AP.

Carly from St. Joseph, MI

What number will Jimmy Graham wear for the Packers? I had to laugh a little when I saw the NFL official Instagram account post a picture of him with his jersey photoshopped to GB still wearing No. 88. I couldn't help but think of all the questions you guys would get about Ty's number.

It's the Inbox topic that wouldn't die until Friday afternoon, when it was announced Graham would wear No. 80.

Cody from Eagle River, WI

Why does it seem I'm one of the only people to think the Packers' O-line did a good job last year? All things considered we had reserves step up and play well, and we should be better for it.

I totally agree.

Corinne from Chicago, IL

Insiders, I have to thank you for teaching me that no matter how much we all speculate and conjecture about sports, the games are played, and there's inevitable unpredictability in playing the games. That makes me feel a little better about having NCAA brackets busted. If we all could guess who would win a 68-team tournament, well, the tournament wouldn't be played, and it wouldn't be exciting or worth watching.

Every March Madness game is a one-and-done opportunity. Every Sunday in the NFL is sorta like that, too.

Dave from Swisher, IA

My gut feeling tells me he said, "I can't have my wages garnished."

Nicely done, Irwin.

Jeremy from Appleton, WI

For years now, the armchair GMs have complained that the Packers have wasted Rodgers' window, but now that we have someone making the moves they have been clamoring for, they want us to make sacrifices for sentimentality. Maybe they just didn't realize what they had been asking for all this time.

Oh, they knew what they'd been asking for. They just didn't accept it wasn't realistic.

Tim from Lino Lakes, MN

Just a couple questions regarding Cousins' contract. The assumption was made that the contract was guaranteed for injury. If Cousins does suffer a season-ending injury or worse, does it still go against the cap? If so, aren't the Vikings betting the farm against the next three years? That signing will define Spielman's legacy.

The same way Pace's trade up for Trubisky will define his, and Thompson's decision to hand the keys to Rodgers defines his. It's a QB-driven league in countless respects. And yes, anything paid to Cousins, healthy or not, counts against the cap.

John from Los Angeles, CA

Say a player signs an incentive-laden contract this offseason. The player plays well during the 2018 season, qualifying for the incentive bonuses. Do those count against the 2019 cap?

If they qualify as "not likely to be earned" incentives (NLTBE), yes. If they qualify as "likely to be earned" (LTBE), the cap room has to be available in the current year and the money counts right away. LTBE incentives not earned produce a credit on the following year's cap.

Jacob from Milwaukee, WI

I noticed in the answers about young receivers getting a chance there was no mention to Yancey. Why is that? I'd prefer him over any of the young guys that were mentioned. I predict him making a big jump this year if given a chance.

You may be right, but in my book he's competing for a spot on the 53-man roster first, before I'm making him a legitimate candidate for WR3. One step at a time.

Ron from Waukesha, WI

Guys, Jordy's gone and Cobb's contract expires at season end. I see a Day 2 wide receiver picked by Gutekunst. What do you see?

I was saying that when I thought Nelson would still be here in 2018.

AJ from Brisbane, Australia

Sixth grade spelling bee champion? The real question is how he did in seventh grade.

I made it all the way to the state competition in eighth grade. I might have done even better in a geography bee, but they didn't have those where I was growing up.

Cody from Dickeyville, WI

Hey Insiders, do you think Gruden and the Raiders will be able to keep Jordy's night life under control in LA? We all know what a party animal he is.

Dickeyville is 10 miles from my hometown. Cody was never in a geography bee, either.

Bill from Staten Island, NY

I love the addition of Wilkerson to our D-line. But when talking about that group, I don't see any mention of Montravius Adams. I know his first season was a bust due to his foot injury, but he was a stud in college. Is there a reason he's not included in these discussions?

Because he hasn't done anything yet. I think he can definitely help the unit, but in the NFL it's about proving you belong first. Again, one step at a time.

Chris from Minneapolis, MN

In my mind, the true changing of the guard establishing Adams as our No. 1 receiver occurred when Rodgers went to Adams on consecutive plays with the game on the line at Dallas.

And Dallas might have been the last team not to put its top corner on Adams the rest of the season.

Patrick from Tampa, FL

With the deals these other QBs are getting, I am thinking anything less than $30M a year with a $90M guaranteed would be an insult to "THE Man" among "The Men."

I don't know about insult, but I think your projected numbers are in the right ballpark.

Evan from Durango, CO

I like Jarvis Landry's recent quote, "Everybody's 0-0 right now." The season isn't won or lost in March. The Packers are a draft-and-develop team. We've got the draft next month and an offseason to develop those picks, as well as King, Biegel, Yancey and a bunch of others. Our draft position is better than it has been in a decade and we have THE man. Jordy was my favorite player, but I'm excited to see how the rest of 2018 unfolds for Packer Nation.

With all due respect to Wilkerson, Graham and any other veterans brought in, the Packers will be better off if the bigger story in 2018 is the 2017 rookies who earned their stripes moving up to true front-of-the-line status, specifically players like King, Jones and Jones for me.

Bruce from Las Vegas, NV

Is Saquon Barkley a better once-in-a-generation talent than Reggie Bush was? There was a lot of talk about Bush being that guy a few years ago.

Barkley is 230 pounds to Bush's 200 running the same speed. So, yes, I think.

Mike from Madison, WI

"Jordy, Jordy, Jordy, that's all anyone talks about." Over, done with, time to move on. Draft coming up, who do you like at wide receiver?

I was working on "Prospect Primers" from the Big 12 the other day (we're launching the series on Monday, if all goes well) and James Washington from Oklahoma State really caught my eye.

Ed from Minneapolis, MN

If you see a juicy or salient piece of information, a free agent in the building or a Montgomery jersey with a different number, can you report it, or do you have to wait until things are officially announced?

I could report it in advance as a farewell post.

Joe from Asbury, IA

Am I crazy for being excited about Cousins to the Vikings? He doesn't scare me, I've seen above average in his play but nothing great. Also pressure and expectations are very real. Anything short of the Super Bowl now is going to be a disappointment. That's a lot to carry on their shoulders. The Packers now know how they need to elevate their play, but the pressure cooker is on the purple guys.

They won the division in 2015, but they were never the team everyone was chasing the next year because Bridgewater went down. Now they are.

Jim from Lima, OH

You know in college they used to call me the little bulldog. What was your nickname?

As a freshman on my college baseball team, I got all kinds of nicknames, but none of them really stuck. One of the fleeting attempts was to peg me "Flanders," apparently because the upperclassmen saw my dad in the stands at a game and thought he looked like the Simpsons' neighbor. I figured since they kept trying I was fitting in OK.

Shalom from Little Rock, AR

This is a counterpoint to the "next man up" philosophy. As a team, we need people specialized and in their role. This is a specialized game now. We do not need more hybrid cornerback/safety/linebacker players. We need a true safety. A true corner. A true linebacker who will do each job proficiently. We need to stop going for the tweeners. My thought is that putting players not in their natural position probably wears them down since they have to go for different angles/play roles that don't fit them. Thoughts?

While your thoughts sound good in theory, the 46-man game-day roster doesn't allow for specialized backups at every spot should a starter go down. Specialization is a product of sub-packages, and the more sub-packages a team employs, the more the 46 players are stretched to fill all the roles. It sounds like you want to reduce the number of sub-packages, and while there may be some merit to the idea, the fewer looks you give an opponent, the sooner they'll know everything you do. The key is finding the happy medium, which is where McCarthy gets his "less volume, more creativity" mantra. With injuries a constant battle, I just don't know if anyone's found the optimal levels.

Chris from Denton, TX

I feel like I'm the minority here, but the Jordy Nelson release makes total sense to me. We drop a big contract with an aging wide receiver, and as you wrote today, will probably live his second life in the NFL in the slot. We already have that slot position filled by a younger receiver, Cobb, and ample depth at the position to fill in at deep threats, Allison/Adams. I understand how much he means to the community, but as a roster move this makes perfect sense.

I'm just spiffballing here, but part of me wonders if McCarthy and Philbin, in rebuilding the playbook, are in some fashion resurrecting the 2010 offense that had to be scrapped when Grant and Finley were lost for the season in the first five weeks. Nelson wasn't much of a factor going into that year. You have plenty of depth in the backfield, plus Adams (Jennings), Cobb (Driver) and Graham (Finley) as your top three receiving options. Or maybe I just need to take a week off.

Tom from Dunkerton, IA

Jordy was my favorite player and I will miss him as much or more than the next guy. But how about we make mine the final question on Jordy for a while? The fans need to get over him being cut. The Packers have and so has Jordy.

We will revisit it again in a month when the offseason program starts and Aaron Rodgers, presumably, speaks to the media for the first time in a while. But until then, good idea. Have a good weekend, everybody, and go easy on Wes next week.

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