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Mike's Mid-Week Chat: Which position groups might change the most?

Senior writer Mike Spofford answered fan questions in an offseason live chat

TE Jace Sternberger
TE Jace Sternberger

Hey everybody. Thanks for logging in. Not sure how often I'll be doing offseason chats, but today I thought, why not? Ask away.

Hi Mike, what is your take on XFL week 1?

I didn't watch any of it and don't plan to, but I did read about the experiment on kickoff returns and it sounds intriguing. I'd hate to see that part of the NFL game go away completely, and they might have a starting point for a compromise between safety and still a potentially exciting play.

How long until there is any meaningful news regarding free agency? Most everything I can find right now is clickbait nonsense, when can we expect to start seeing the real stuff?

Teams can sign their own free agents at any time, but usually when it gets this close to free agency, players are interested in testing the market to see what's out there. Teams might want to see what the market is for one of their own players, too. The negotiating window doesn't start until March 16, so honestly, I wouldn't expect a whole lot of big news before then.

Sure is tough without Packers football on Sundays, is it pre season yet?

Ha, I'm actually enjoying my Sundays off, to be honest. I love the season, don't get me wrong, and I want it to last as long as possible, but once it's over, I appreciate the break. I have more time to pay attention to other sports, too.

Mike, you're a baseball guy. What do make of what the Brewers have done this offseason?

They're undergoing a pretty significant roster overhaul for a team that reached the postseason, but I can understand most of the moves, and I think David Stearns and Craig Counsell have earned a measure of trust. They've proven they know what they're doing. The NL Central is going to be one brutal division, though. Four potentially really good teams going at it all spring and summer.

I know it's a long way off, but will you be coming down to the Tampa Bay game this year? I live across the state in West Palm Beach and definitely will be going. Would like to meet you.

I travel to all the games so I'll definitely be there. If there's a pep rally the night before the game, that's usually the best chance to say hello, because on game day I'm swamped from arrival to departure. I don't know if there'll be a pep rally in Tampa next season or not. We don't even know when the game is yet.

Mike, What are the Packers biggest needs going in to next season?

A lot will depend on what they do with some of their own free agents, like Bulaga, Crosby, Martinez, etc. If Martinez isn't re-signed, inside linebacker becomes a huge need. Whether or not Bryan Bulaga is back, you need future plans at offensive tackle regardless. Defensive line, too, you never have enough big guys. Gutekunst clearly said he's planning to add at wide receiver. Tight end might not look the same next year, either. The Packers have plenty of work to do.

What are your thoughts on Jimmy G? We finally got an extended look at him this season and I'm curious to hear your evaluation. It's looking like the 49ers rivalry might be rekindled the next few years.

Totally agree on the 49ers rivalry. The Packers certainly don't want it to get as one-sided as it's been at other times (GB dominated in mid-90s, SF in charge earlier this decade). Don't let that get rolling the wrong way. As for Graham, I'm not into predictions. I can see the potential desire to save cap space, but making that move means you're basically starting over at the position, so I guess we'll see.

What do you think about the possibility of the packers trading up for jerry jeudy? Is that too much to ask? What about henry ruggs?

I'm not sure the Packers have the pick haul to allow for a trade up in the first round this year, plus they have plenty of needs to address anyway. They have a lot of picks on the third day and I could see some shifting around with those picks. If the WR class is as deep as it's being reported, it would seem at first glance the Packers could get a pretty good one in the second round if the pickings are slimmer at other positions at the end of the first. But we'll just have to see how it plays out.

Hi Mike, thanks for taking my question. Has LaFleur interviewed anyone for the Wr's coaching position?

I would imagine he has, but he's not making his process public. When he makes a decision and a hire, he'll announce it.

Hi Mike, I just want to know where I find info about the game, schemes, formations, rules, etc. Thanks

The NFL operations website has the complete rule book. There's no all-encompassing text on schemes and formations that I'm aware of, because there are so many varieties. Just read and absorb all you can as you go along. It's what I've done for 25 years in this business.

I see Greg Olsen is out testing the waters in FA. Already visited a couple teams. You think he would be a good fit in Green Bay or are the Pack ready for younger talent in that position?

My gut says the latter.

Do you think GB will play on Thanksgiving this year?

I keep wondering when the league is going to put the Packers back on Thanksgiving. The last time was 2015, which is the longest drought since I've had this job. The Packers have been at Detroit in Week 17 three of the last four years, so maybe that game shifts back to Thanksgiving again.

Mike, Taysom Hill is saying he see's himself as a franchise QB. I tend to agree with him based on what the QB play landscape looks these days. If GM Spoff was in the market for a franchise QB what kind of guy are you looking for?

It's too bad for Hill he's already as old as he is, but I do think he'll get a shot to be somebody's QB. I've come to believe that young QBs who haven't been "the man" yet have a better chance for success early if they're mobile and can create and improvise. It makes it harder on defenses to figure you out. Hill would fit that bill, even though he's not 23 anymore.

Why do so many players test FA when they admit Green Bay is a great place to play and they will have a legitimate shot at a post season run?

Because they only have so many years of earning power in this business, and I don't blame them one bit for trying to maximize on that. Unless you're going to be the next Troy Aikman or Tony Romo in the booth, you'll never have the opportunity to make this kind of money again the rest of your life. That's just reality.

Former Packers CB Davon House played six of his eight seasons in Green Bay.

Any word on a new receivers coach?

Not yet. I don't want to speak for LaFleur, but I would think he'll want to have one in place before the scouting combine, which is two weeks away.

Hi Mike, I've heard draft class is deep at WR but what are GB's chance of drafting a stud MLB?

If there are only one or two big-time inside LBs in the draft, they're usually gone well before pick 30. But we'll see what this class looks like. A run on other positions can push guys down, or maybe trading back from 30 you can still get your guy high in the second and add another pick. Lot of different things can happen.

How does a Punter / Kicker work on inconsistencies? What percentage of the job is mental for them. It seems like there is not much they can do other than just keep kicking the ball for practice.

I've learned from a lot of conversations with Mason Crosby the mental part is all about believing in your process -- preparation during the week, warming up before the game, etc. If a kicker has a process he believes in and has proved successful, the mental side of his game stays intact even if a result here or there is not the best.

Have you got any ice pops from Aaron Rodgers and Danica?

Ha. That was a pretty funny story.

I've heard what the draft is deep in. have you heard what positions are very thin in the draft?

We'll start hearing a lot more once the combine is done. It's not the be-all, end-all, but it's a significant piece of the evaluation pie, and it provides a lot of comparables with everyone getting tested and measured, etc.

Hi Mike, what is the Packer's cap space for signing FAs, and draft picks this year? Could we go out and land a big fish in FA (ie the smith bros) and get their picks paid?

The Packers aren't going to be able to sign four free agents the first day like last year, but I could see one significant free-agent addition that doesn't break the bank, and other mid-level moves along the way after the first wave of signings wraps up. Cap-wise, it's pretty clear the Packers are trying to set aside space for an extension for Kenny Clark, too. Gutekunst made no bones about that in his last press conference.

Which do you think is tougher for the players: losing in the game before the Super Bowl or losing in the Super Bowl?

No question losing in the Super Bowl is tougher. To be that close to a championship, and a measure of immortality, can be tough to get over.

Mike, Ryan asked about punting. Do you remember when Don Meredith on Monday Night Football called a punter Old Thunder foot whenever he played? It reminded me of that and I cannot remember who the punter was do you?

Boy, I want to say it was Ray Guy because the Raiders were on Monday Night Football a lot. But I can't be sure. Great line, though.

What's Larry up to in the offseason? I sure miss him this time of year

He's trying to chill a bit here and there like the rest of us. He'll be going to the combine with us, like usual.

Thoughts on Dom Capers becoming a defensive assistant for the Vikings?

I'm really happy for Dom. I can't believe he wants to keep coaching, because he certainly doesn't have to, but it just shows how much he loves it. He's a tremendous individual, and the NFL is better with him in it.

What's the contract status on Curtis Bolton? Prior to his injury, he was looking like a solid contributor. While needs at O-line and LB are clear and urgent, many others should be at least somewhat addressed with existing rostered players providing their development continues. Who's your early pick for player to breakout after being on IR last year? I'll go with ESB

Equanimeous St. Brown and Bolton will both be interesting stories to watch through the offseason and training camp. Injuries are a cruel part of the game, but both players showed they have a chance to succeed in this league.

If Lamar Jackson and Mahomes are the new prototype, especially for young QBs just coming into the league, how does this start to change the landscape of defenses? It's obviously really difficult to find fast guys that can still thump.

Speed on defense is more important than ever these days, and it's not as much about guys who can thump as tackle well in space. Just get the job done. These guys are defending these types of QBs in college, so in the scouting process you get a sense of which guys have a chance to do it here.

Take a look at photos of Packers T Jared Veldheer from the 2019 season.

Hey Mike, what is your beer of choice?

I'm all for trying seasonal stuff at different times of year, but if I have a regular go-to variety, it's usually an amber of some sort.

Vic has noted that OLB has been given a lot of attention. He says (paraphrasing) Why not put Rashan Gary at ILB...he's big, fast, can rush and cover (by all accounts). Do you see that as a waste of talent, or getting your best 11 on the field?

I think the long-term vision for Gary is for him to be like another Za'Darius Smith -- able to line up in different spots across the front and have an impact. But I don't see Gary as an off-the-ball guy, which is what an inside LB is. You want a guy like Gary at the line of scrimmage in my opinion.

Hi Mike, thanks for all your hard work! Do you see a tight end addition coming this offseason? Or will Jace Sternberger be the guy next year?

I wouldn't rule out both. I think Sternberger has a chance to be the guy, but why not have more options?

When a team wants to match a contract their restricted FA agreed to, does it have to be the exact contract or can they adjust some things?

It pretty much has to be the same thing, at least in terms of length, pay and how the pay is structured (bonuses, salary, etc.).

Do you follow college basketball?

I follow the Big Ten mostly, which is one heck of a league this year. Very entertaining and competitive.

BTW say hi to KUHHHN and Larry for me

Will do, and with that my hour is up. Thanks for checking in today and we'll talk again soon. Have a great day everybody. Best, Mike

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