That's what they're building toward


Gene from Greensboro, NC

Aaron Rodgers is about to get rich(er) while the Packers get mediocre due to lack of salary cap space to field a consistent contender. Trade Rodgers to Cleveland for a slew of draft picks and start the Darnold/Kizer era while still having the resources to rebuild all facets of the team.

I should have stayed on vacation. Good morning!

David from Menomonie, WI

Mike McCarthy speaks of reinventing the offense. I think what he's saying is they’re going to go short-and-fast as opposed to deep every play. How do you see the offense changing?

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McCarthy’s background is in the West Coast offense, which is short throws by design. There are different ways you can interpret his comments, but my biggest takeaway is the Packers are going to revisit everything they’ve done over the past 12 years and figure out what concepts work best in 2018. I don’t know whether you’ll notice it yet during the offseason program or even training camp, but you’ll see the change on Sundays.**

Jim from Fairview Heights, IL

I would love to see Brian Gutekunst use Ted Thompson’s theory of drafting when it comes to edge rusher and corner back. TT drafted three running backs last year. The year before, two offensive linemen. I'd love to see him draft an edge-rusher and corner with the first two picks and then, somewhere in the other 10, pick up two others.

That’s one way to build immediate competition and the Packers have done it before.

LJ from Chicago, IL

I think too much is made of all this "mentor" talk. The Packers aren't bringing Tramon Williams on board to mentor their young CBs. And he isn't signing to be a mentor either. Bottom line is the Packers need guys to line up, play corner and ball out. That's what the GM and Coach are expecting.

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Veteran players can be both mentors and competitors. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. Williams was known as a headstrong, vocal leader during his time in Green Bay. The contract the Packers gave Williams suggests he’s here to play a big role in this defense, but his presence will undoubtedly benefit Kevin King, Lenzy Pipkins and all the young defensive backs on Green Bay’s roster. Just like how Charles Woodson, Al Harris and Nick Collins benefitted Williams 10 years ago.**

Michael from North Port, FL

With all this focus on picking a defensive player with the 14th pick, our wide receiver group needs to be addressed now that Jeff Janis and Jordy Nelson are gone. Do you think the Packers can maybe trade down and select a wide receiver?

Sure…or just stand pat in the second round and draft another one there. That’s worked out pretty well in the past.

George from Kennebunkport, ME

I believe one of the reasons for retaining Randall Cobb is his versatility. He was a triple threat at Kentucky. The Packers have used him in the backfield in spots. With Montgomery's flexibility as WR/RB and the emergence of Jones and Williams, I am hopeful we see more creative things out of the playbook in 2018. Do you think McCarthy will show more imagination with this loaded offense?

It’s no secret the Packers want to use versatile players such as Cobb and Montgomery in as many different ways as possible. I’m really intrigued by what Joe Philbin sees in Cobb and how he chooses to deploy a player with his talent. Philbin got to see it briefly in 2011 before leaving for Miami and I have to imagine both he and McCarthy have invested a lot of time and effort this offseason into how to best utilize Cobb. He’s a playmaker who does things on a football field few in the NFL can. That’s what they’re building toward – getting most out of the established talent on this roster.

Jacklyn from Minocqua, WI

From ESPN to CBS to NFL.com, I've heard the Vikings called "elite". If they're elite, what word characterizes the Pack?

Eliter?

Tim from Normal, IL

We have two first-round picks as our starting OLBs. They have produced. Behind them are third- and fourth-round picks or UFAs that seem destined to be career backups. The draft gurus all have us taking Davenport or other OLBs at 14. Is OLB just one of those positions where you have to spend first-round capital in order to get production?

It’s more difficult to find top-flight outside linebackers in the later rounds, but the same can be said for almost every position. As more prospects come off the board, teams must dig deeper to find the Antonio Browns, Justin Houstons, David Bakhtiaris and Richard Shermans of the world. Look at any previous draft, though. If you want a future Pro Bowler, the first two rounds are your best bets.

Joe from Santa Monica, CA

Do coaches communicate with their GMs and vice versa as to which players they would like to be part of the team? Or does player acquisition just happen behind closed doors with the general manager and his personnel?

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McCarthy told reporters at the NFL Owners meetings in Orlando the lines of communication between the scouting department and the coaching staff are as open as they’ve ever been. That’s part of knocking down the silos Mark Murphy talked about in January. **

Chuck from Poynette, WI

Now that Jeff Janis has decided to sign elsewhere, who do you think replaces his gunner skills on special teams? A draft pick? Or do you have someone in mind that’s already on the roster?

Any incoming rookie will have a shot at it, but King, Josh Jones, Quinten Rollins, Demetri Goodson and (I believe) Josh Hawkins have all done it before in meaningful games. Janis was exceptional in that role, but the Packers still have options. If there was life on special teams after Jarrett Bush, there will be life after Jeff Janis.

Casey from Tempe, AZ

For the new kickoff structure conversation, the only logical recommendation was the idea of a dead ball as soon as the receiving team or kicking team establishes possession. My only concern is, this may lead to a similar rule for punt returns. I honestly feel eliminating the kickoff will have a damaging impact on the game. This may be one of the dangerous elements of football which must remain intact.

Kickoffs and punt returns are linked by special teams, but remain inherently different plays. A change to one doesn’t necessarily impact the other. There also was pushback at first about touchbacks being moved to the 25-yard line, but rarely do we get any comments about it now. Kickoffs are exciting, but the league must run the cost-benefit analysis and determine whether it’s worth it. There isn’t a quick-fix to the kickoff issue.

Kevin from Asbury Park, NJ

All this talk about the kickoff being eliminated. What about onside kicks at the end of a game during a comeback? If there’s no kickoff that could ruin some potentially great endings to games. Doesn’t seem right.

*The league would still have an onside kick or something that would serve as a way for a team to maintain possession. However, you’d likely lose the element of surprise onside kicks, which have been one of the Packers’ specialties under McCarthy. *

Roger from McGrath, AK

The game has gotten safer with the elimination of crack back blocks, cut blocks, earhole smacks, targeting, and other safety related rule changes and we're aware of it because of better monitoring. So have kickoffs always had higher injury risk or does the improvement elsewhere make them stand out? If the data isn't there, please speculate. Thanks.

It probably had some effect, but at the end of the day kickoffs still feature 11 guys screaming downfield looking to put a lick on a blocker or returner. That’s a much different ball game than 11 offensive and defensive players lining up a few feet from each other and executing a play that lasts five seconds.

Charlie from Allentown, PA

With kickoffs going away, I would think that rosters would change. It's going to be harder for the special-teams guys to get a roster spot, since their roles have been diminished. Do you think teams would reassess their depth charts now that being great on special teams doesn't matter as much?

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It would limit opportunities for reserves and backups to get on-field time, but the personnel on kickoff returns is similar to punts. If the kickoff is removed or changed, kickoff returners would have to hone their craft on punts and coverage players would need to make the most of whatever other opportunities are presented. That’s just the way of it.**

Connar from Lake Nebagomon, WI

I understand the injury concerns that come with the kickoff, but I think it's so important for guys down on the depth chart. Terrell Davis didn't get any playing time on offense until after his famous first play on a kickoff in the last preseason game. Does he ever get his shot without that play? Does he become a 2,000-yard rusher or play through the Super Bowl migraine? I know there are others, but this is the biggest example I could think of.

*Great players find their way to greatness. I’m sure Davis would have proved himself in the long run. I’m more worried about players like Desmond Howard and Devin Hester, who carved their names into the NFL history book through special teams. Both still could make an impact on punt returns, but you’re cutting their greatness in half. *

Tom from Fairfield, CT

I saw your prospect primer on 6-5 left tackle, Jonathan Noteboom, presumably for guard or tackle position/work. I know a lot of tall players do very well at tackle. Can a player, however, be too tall to play guard?

Yes and no. It all depends on knee bend and pad level. T.J. Lang, Josh Sitton and Jahri Evans were all college tackles, but also were athletic and strong enough at the point of attack to excel at guard in the NFL. It’s a leverage game.

Scott from Greensburg, IN

I clearly remember a time when "hard-hitting" was one of the adjectives used to describe certain prospects coming out of college, especially among linebackers and safeties. It seemed, at the time, to be used as a way to assure the fans the player so described had toughness. With the much-discussed rule changes and safety issues of today's (and tomorrow's) NFL, do you foresee us getting new adjectives such as "tackles properly" or "uses shoulders well" as ways of letting us know college prospects are not likely to be "head hunters" or "likely to be ejected?"

*I think the phrase you’re looking for is “plays with discipline.” It’s not just about how hard a player hits anymore. Does he properly use those gifts to impact a football game in a positive manner? It’s one thing to hit, but players need to know how to hit. *

Ron from Cherry Valley, IL

If the league wants fewer kick returns without giving up the onside kick, move the kick up another five yards and put the ball back on the twenty. Your thoughts?

*And implement the idea I believe Mason Crosby has floated around in the past – put the ball at the 20 if the kickoff goes through the uprights and at the 25 if it misses/falls short. *

Jake from St Clair Shores, MI

I think Mark Murphy and the Packers’ organization realized if they only win two Super Bowls during the span of the Favre and Rodgers era, it would be the biggest administrational failure in sports history. That’s why they are making all these drastic changes within the organization.

Biggest administrational failure in sports history? Holy hyperbole, Batman. Not the Dolphins never winning a Super Bowl with Marino? Or the Bills’ four consecutive losses in Buffalo’s only trips to the big game? Or the Vikings going 0-4 in the Super Bowl and endlessly searching for a Lombardi Trophy? There’s no question the Packers are in a win-now mindset, but can we stop acting like they haven’t accomplished anything over the last 26 years?

Andy from Clive, IA

Without replay, Average Joe’s would have lost in the dodgeball finals. Do you remember the Helsinki Incident?

That seals it – the biggest administrational failure in sports history was the Purple Cobras not winning it all in ’04.

Michael from Eudora, KS

New rule idea. If safety is important, then use the full 53-man roster on game day. This is how it would work. If a player is lost due to a concussion for the game, you could then suit up one of the inactive players for that game. You still play with 45 but maybe players who are injured get pulled faster because you have a replacement.

*Sure, but you’d need an independent doctor to make those decisions. Otherwise, I could see teams manipulating it. The 46-man roster is intended to level the playing field. Since I don’t see rosters expanding to 55 or 56 anytime soon, I think the only change we could see is the continued expansion of the practice squad to help teams navigate the practice week.  *

Aaron from Wheeling, IL

Regarding contracts for Rodgers and Matt Ryan, do players ever discuss their salary strategy with other players? Many are friends off the field so maybe agents calling each other? Or team owners?

*It’s left mostly on the agents, who have access to every contract that’s been negotiated in the NFL. They pull up the numbers, find a starting point for negotiations and run it past their clients. *

Bryan from Gladstone, MI

In answer to Barton's question about Pereira saying there should not have a flag when Rodgers got hit. He and Aikman agree on everything and we know how much Troy likes GB.

*I’m not saying there should have been a flag for the hit that broke Rodgers’ collarbone, but at what point do we need to consider throwing a flag for the hit that broke Rodgers’ collarbone? *

Paul from Beaver Dam, WI

Hey Wes, welcome back. I hope you had a good time off. My question is how come you can’t keep a football that goes into the stands?

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Team Photographer Evan Siegle shares some of his favorite images of the 2017 season.

This question became a popular topic of conversation around my family’s Easter table and credit to my mother-in-law for doing the research on this one. Unlike MLB, the NFL doesn’t have set bylaws on fans having to return footballs to the field of play. The league leaves it up to the individual teams and stadiums (don’t ask me about the policy at Lambeau Field. I don’t know). The reason why most teams do not allow fans to keep footballs is twofold: to avoid fights and also because of the limited number of K-balls on field-goal attempts. **

Will from Salt Lake, UT

Hi, Insiders. I just got engaged today and wondering if you guys had any advice for a future husband? Happy wife, happy life, right?

*Take time to appreciate the small moments that don’t wind up in picture frames and Facebook posts. Those will mean the most when you’re sitting on your porch someday with your family rather than likes and favorites. There will be tough times, but you two are only as strong as what you make each other. *

Ralph from Naples, WI

Insiders, do you think Cleveland plans to play Jeff Janis at cornerback or will they have him put weight on and play tight end?

All great questions you may now submit to beat writers in Cleveland. I hope they enjoy them as much as I have.

Ryan from Green Bay, WI

No column for April 1 due to being a Sunday - you guys missed the perfect chance to get some payback on the readers by announcing Ty Montgomery's new position and number... On a serious note though, I just wanted to say thank you to both you guys for keeping us all well entertained.

April fool’s is not for reporters. I will never ever play an April fool’s joke on readers. There’s already too many social-media pranksters playing tricks on people the other 364 days.

Sean from Milwaukee, WI

Just bought tickets to the Tailgate Tour in Milwaukee and I noticed the Insiders aren't on the list of special guests. Probably for the best, I don't think the venue could handle that much foot traffic.

There aren’t stadiums large enough in the Midwest to house those crowds.

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