On the first Saturday of every month, Mark will write about a topic of interest to Packers fans and the organization, and then answer five fan questions. Fans are encouraged to email Mark with their name and hometown at: MurphyTakes5@packers.com.
The first day of the NFL Draft is typically a very busy day for all NFL teams, with plenty of newsworthy events. For the Packers, though, Thursday was definitely a day filled with more intrigue than usual. The day started with the report that Aaron Rodgers is upset with the Packers and doesn't want to return to the team. When a report like that involves the reigning MVP, it is obviously a huge story, and it dominated the sports news for most of the day. This is an issue that we have been working on for several months. Brian Gutekunst, Matt LaFleur and I have flown out on a number of occasions to meet with Aaron. We are very much aware of Aaron's concerns and have been working with him (and his agent Dave Dunn) to resolve them. We remain committed to Aaron in 2021 and beyond. He is not only a tremendously talented player, but has developed into a true leader for us. The relationship that Aaron has forged with Matt and the other offensive coaches has propelled us to the brink of the Super Bowl in two straight years. We look forward to competing for another Super Bowl championship with Aaron as our leader.
Oh, and by the way, we drafted a pretty good player in the first round, in cornerback Eric Stokes from the University of Georgia. We had him rated very highly and I saw a lot of smiles on the faces of both scouts and coaches when the pick was announced. The way our game has evolved, you never have enough good cornerbacks.
Now, on to your questions…
Don from Milwaukee
Mark, when considering team needs in an upcoming draft, do you place a higher importance on immediate need or need for depth in two to three years? Or is it more of a blend?
Thanks, Don. This is an issue that teams have been grappling with for years. Ideally, I think you would want a blend of picks that will help immediately and those that may not help for a few years. It also obviously depends on the strength and depth of your roster. Last year's first two picks of Jordan Love and AJ Dillon were good examples of picks for the future. Another factor with Jordan was the importance of the quarterback position in today's game. Finally, injuries are such a huge factor in our game so having a deep roster is essential.
Rob from Green Bay
In an effort to have more meaningful games at the end of the season I would like to see a promotion/relegation format for the NFL. Has this been discussed yet as an idea at the league level? It would also allow for further expansion without diluting the top-level league.
- Split NFL into two tiers currently each 16 teams
- Season has 18 games – one vs. every other team plus three more for your division home/away.
- Relegate the bottom three teams from top tier and promote the top three teams from second tier
- Super Bowl only available to playoffs of top eight teams from first tier
- Some playoff in second tier to decide promotion of third team, a-la championship league to premier league.
Take a peek inside the Green Bay Packers' Draft Room inside Lambeau Field on Thursday, Apr. 29, 2021.
Great question, Rob. I appreciate your creativity. No, the promotion/relegation concept has not been discussed at the league level. I know that it has been utilized in the European soccer leagues for years. I don't follow soccer that closely, but I know that the top teams in Europe recently tried to establish a Super League in order to subvert promotion/relegation. I just don't see that there would be any support for this concept in the NFL. I wonder what Ted Lasso would think about having relegation in the NFL, given his football and soccer background?
Sawyer from Simpsonville, SC
Is the league going to decide which home game the Packers give up in their ninth-home-game season to play overseas, or does Green Bay have some say? For example, let's say the NFC is hosting first instead of the AFC, and the Chiefs were coming to Lambeau. I'd imagine the Packers would rather keep that one stateside and give up the WFT home game to go overseas. Or if the NFL was picking, they might want Packers, Bears or Vikings moved because of the rivalry.
Thanks for bringing this issue up, Sawyer. As I've discussed here in the past, growth of the game internationally is a high priority for the league. In order to have a larger inventory of international games, starting in 2022, the league will require teams to give up home games to play internationally. It will be done by division over an eight-year period. So, for instance, in 2022 the NFC will have nine home games and the league could determine that the four NFC North teams would each give up a home game to play in an international game. The thought with doing it by division is that international trips can be taxing, and it is competitively equitable since every team in the division will have an international game. With regard to which home game teams will give up, that will be up to the team, as it is now (although the league may provide some input). Most teams are reluctant to play a division game internationally since those games are so important and you would be giving up the home-field advantage.
Niels from Barbados
Dear Mr. Murphy, I want to point you to a news story about a spit test for concussions that ran recently: Concussion in sport: Saliva test is 94% accurate in rugby union trial. The text says that this test could be several years away from being usable as a rapid test on the sidelines. I would encourage the NFL to throw some money at speeding up this development. I could see so many ways this would be an advantage both for the game and for the NFL as a business. Do you agree?
Thanks for bringing this to my attention, Niels. (We don't get many questions from fans in Barbados). I was not aware of a spit test. As you know, concussions (and the impact they have on our players) are an important issue for the league and the future of the game. I agree that it would be smart for the NFL to invest in technology that would be able to determine quickly and accurately whether a player has suffered a concussion. Interestingly, TitletownTech has invested in Oculogica, a company that has developed the only FDA-authorized test that objectively diagnoses a concussion through ocular nerve function measurement. Its device is called the EyeBOX.
Lori from De Pere, WI
When will the NFL release the schedule? Isn't it usually right after the draft?
You're right, Lori, the NFL schedule is usually released around the time of the Draft, often a week or two before. This year's release will be a little later – on May 12. The league often talks about its tent-pole events, such as the Super Bowl and the draft. The league would like to turn the schedule release into a tent-pole event, and separating the release from the draft will make it more of a separate event. Another new tent-pole event this year will be the unified start of training camp. With the move to 17 regular-season games and a change in when the preseason games will be played, there is an opportunity for 28 teams (all teams except for those playing in the Hall of Fame game and the NFL Kickoff game – another tent-pole event) to all start training camp on the same day. This will provide tremendous publicity for the league and all teams as training camps get started.