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:
The week of the draft is always a busy and important week for NFL teams. For the Packers this year, though, it was especially important given that the historic trade of Aaron Rodgers was finalized on the eve of the draft.
We had been working with the Jets on the terms of the trade for quite a while. As is the case in most negotiations, it takes a deadline to bring the parties together. In this case, the draft was the key. We wanted picks in this year's draft, and let the Jets know that if the trade took place after this year's draft, the compensation would have certainly been different because the picks would come in the future. Ultimately, I think the trade was a win for both teams. I give Brian Gutekunst a lot of credit for his patience and determination in finalizing the trade. Russ Ball and Matt LaFleur also deserve credit for their roles in finalizing the trade.
It was bittersweet seeing Aaron's career with the Packers end this way. He had an 18-year run with the Packers, the longest in team history. He was clearly one of the best players in team history and will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. We wish him the best in New York and will welcome him back to Lambeau Field to retire his number and celebrate his induction into the Packers Hall of Fame once his playing career ends.
I thought Brian and his personnel staff did an excellent job addressing our needs in the draft. With 13 picks, we were able to draft edge rushers, tight ends and wide receivers that should be able to help our team this year. As you can see from the question below, not everyone thinks we had a strong draft. That's the beauty of the draft – everyone has an opinion on it. The true test of a draft, though, is two to three years down the road.
To top it all off, we were able to enter into a contract extension with Jordan Love that we believe is good for both Jordan and the organization.
Now, on to your questions.
John from Houston, TX.
I think whoever wins the Super Bowl should get to host the next draft. Solves that problem. Adds incentive. You've probably thought of this. Maybe. I don't know…that's why we pay you the big bucks. Great job.
Interesting proposal, John, and I had not thought of this! The main issue that I see with your idea is that it takes several years for cities to plan and fundraise for the draft. Also, there are many cities that might not have the space and/or facilities to host a draft. As you could see from the crowds in Kansas City, it has become a huge event – with a state-wide economic impact of $94M, more than six times the impact of a Packers home game. We're optimistic that we will host a draft in the near future – either 2025 or 2027.
A question from Jacob
Why hasn't the No. 1 (or I guess 5 for that matter) been officially retired?
Great questions, Jacob. Both Curly Lambeau's No. 1 and Paul Hornung's No. 5 have been unofficially retired. They haven't been officially retired because the administration at the time they left the Packers, for whatever reason, decided not to retire their numbers. We are reluctant to change decisions that were made by people who were in leadership positions during and at the end of the players' careers. We have issued "1" and "5" for training camp and preseason games, but they have never been worn in regular-season games. As the size of the roster grows (and if we officially retire other numbers), it will become more difficult providing numbers for all of our players.
A question from Leo
I have a question why we have to hear most of our Packers news from outside the organization, like I heard the Aaron Rodgers news yesterday and it's not even on the Packers' website yet, does not make sense. There is Packers news everywhere but not on the site I go to hear it.
Thanks for raising this issue, Leo. As you note, there are some stories that appear first on other news outlets, and then will be on packers.com. We want to make sure we get the story right, and don't care as much if we are the first to break a story (although there are many times when we are the first). What happens a lot with player signings is that the player's agent will leak the story to the media, and we do not want to do a press release or put it on our website until the signing has been finalized. Also, there are so many more people and organizations covering the Packers and the league now than there were in the past that there is much more competition to be the one who breaks the story.
Michael from Minocqua, WI.
I was very pleased with the Packers draft this year. I think Gutey did an excellent job addressing our weaknesses. Having 13 picks increases our chances of finding a gem in one of the picks – and trading down a few spots for an additional pick is a risk worth taking. I'm really excited about Lukas Van Ness. Looks like he has a great upside. I noticed, though, that some writers criticized us for drafting him so high since he never started at Iowa. Should I be concerned that he wasn't a starter?
Thanks, Michael. I was also pleased with the draft. Brian and his staff do an excellent job preparing for the draft. It is exciting to see all their work come together. With regard to your question, I would not be concerned that Van Ness wasn't a starter. He redshirted his first year, and only played two seasons at Iowa. His head coach at Iowa, Kirk Ferentz, is a bit of a traditionalist, and he started upperclassmen ahead of Van Ness. Van Ness played a lot of snaps in both seasons and was usually on the field during the key parts of the game. It is more important to be a finisher than a starter. Also, we heard similar concerns when we drafted Clay Matthews, and he turned out to be a great player for us.
Steve from Two Rivers, WI.
I was really disappointed in the Packers draft. Van Ness was a real stretch – he didn't even start at Iowa. A lot of the national writers agree with me – I saw a lot of C's and D's. I think we blew a great opportunity with 13 picks. Clifford had a great career at Penn State, but most draft experts had him projected as an undrafted free agent.
Thanks for sharing your opinion on the draft, Steve. As I wrote above, everyone has an opinion on the draft, and people are now not only grading each team's draft, but grading each pick. We really do need to wait some time to see the real value of a draft, and also to see if some undrafted free agents end up being key contributors. Brian and his staff put months of work into establishing their board for the draft, and try to stay true to the board and their evaluations of players.