The best signings often come from within


Chuck from Minneapolis, MN

Instead of rock, paper, scissors to start the game; how about a dance-off?

Jamaal Williams would win every time. Good morning!

Take a look at photos of Packers WR Davante Adams from the 2017 season. Photos by Evan Siegle and Corey Wilson, packers.com

Mark from Sturgeon Bay, WI

I consider signing Davante Adams and Corey Linsley before they actually hit free agency has to count as signings. They just extended them before the March deadline.

They actually did it back in December. With all the money that was thrown around during the opening days of free agency, who knows what happens if the Packers weren’t proactive in taking care of Adams and Linsley. They beat free agency to the punch with those deals. It’s fun to talk about unrestricted free agency, but the best signings often come from within.

Kyle from Los Angeles, CA

Last year when Deshaun Watson went down, the fantasy advice for Lamar Miller was to bench him because the defense no longer had to worry about a superstar QB, which provides an RB with a 0.5 YPC increase as well as more TDs (per the "experts"). Aaron Jones and Williams produced well without Rodgers, but we should expect them to have even more productive years with No. 12 on the field regardless, right?

I would think so. Just look at Eddie Lacy’s first two NFL seasons. His production jumped across the board in 2014 after Aaron Rodgers returned from the collarbone. Lacy also became more involved in the passing game that season.

Wes from South St Paul, MN

Every year we see massive UFA signings immediately after the draft. Are these players on the team's draft board somewhere? Are there conversations with players that the Packers want to bring in, if they aren't drafted?

The third day of the NFL Draft is chaos, especially once the seventh round begins. It’s a total free-for-all. Teams are reaching out to agents to gauge interest. Sometimes teams will select players, too, because they fear the player won’t sign with them as a college free agent. It’s the draft within the draft.

Jon from Appleton, WI

I would imagine if they were to increase the number of active players on game day, it would also come with an equal increase in total roster size. Thus, keeping the playing field level for all teams.

That ain’t happening anytime soon.

Richard from Alvarado, TX

Good morning! In regards to the rash of injuries around the league, how about creating a “disabled list” similar to what MLB uses? A player has to be on the list a minimum of six weeks. After that, he has to be put on IR with no designation to return or put back on the roster. Use “options” on practice squad players only if they replace injured players.

I liked the expansion of the return designation and want to keep that in play regardless of the injury. Working off your idea, I wonder if expanding the physically unable perform list to include injuries sustained in the preseason and training camp might be the way to go. I’m still not a fan of having to carry an injured player on your 53-man roster during final cuts to make them eligible to return once they’re placed on IR the next day. Why not just make them eligible to return in eight weeks?

Jeremy from De Soto, KS

Eighteen years since Bubba Franks was drafted? Man, time really does fly.

And 10 years since he retired. Now how old do you feel?

Mike from Riverview, FL

I think mindset on defense is the key to success. In the Reggie White era, I remember that defense having its own, almost quiet swagger. The past few years, the defense seemed to always be confused or unsure of themselves. Does Mike Pettine seem like he can bring back that confidence and swagger?

Pettine has a quiet swagger about him. He absolutely won that introductory news conference in January. If Pettine brings that same energy into meetings, I could see the defense rallying to his cause.

Chris from Marshfield, WI

Dan from Marshfield (small world) insinuated the Packers have been a man coverage defense. Do we have any stats to back that up? I ask because I can recall many plays where I was shaking my head at their zone coverage, or lack thereof, and wondering why they weren't in man.

Dom Capers used man and zone concepts, but the cornerbacks are schooled in press-man coverage. Those traits are what the Packers looked for in their boundary cornerbacks during the draft process and free agency.

Steven from Rockford, IL

I think DeShone Kizer is a young quarterback who is exceptionally bright. He’s accurate with the football and is able to make things out of nothing. I think he just needs time. How valuable do you think the 15 games of starting experience he got last year is going to be for his overall development?

As long as Kizer learns from that experience and doesn’t linger on the negatives. He sounds like a headstrong guy, so I don’t anticipate that happening. He made the best out of a bad situation last year in Cleveland. If I’m Kizer, I ask for the neuralyzer, wipe that rookie season from my memory bank and start fresh.

Dave from Coloma, MI

You are the GM of a team with a need at receiver. You're on the clock and there are two receivers available. Both have great hands and can block downfield. One of them runs a 4.0-second time in the 40 but isn't real crisp when it comes to running the routes. The other one runs a 6.0 40 but runs perfect routes. Which one do you take?

*Receivers don’t have to be blazing fast to be effective, but they need some semblance of speed to gain separation. I’d take the 4.0 guy in a heartbeat. I would have said the same thing even if the other guy ran in the 4.7s or 4.8s. *

Sam from Bay View, WI

In the unlikely event that all QBs on the game day roster go down, who would fill in? I'm assuming for us it would be Ty Montgomery. And would he have to change his number if he went in at QB?

I believe Jordy Nelson was the emergency backup, so I’m not sure who would handle it now. Maybe Randall Cobb? Davante Adams says he has a great arm, too.

Niklas from Odense, Denmark

Let’s say No. 1-13 goes QB, RB and defensive players. If somehow Quenton Nelson is still there at 14, do you take him or do you find a guy to help the defense, and then take an o-lineman in the middle rounds?

That’s what’s interesting about where the Packers are picking. In previous years, it would be a major red flag if a Top 10 or Top 15 guy fell to the fringe of the first round, but this scenario could very well happen at 14. I speculate the Packers would pass based on their track record with guards, but Nelson seems destined to start in the league for a long time. It’s tempting.

Eric from Kenosha, WI

Is there really a player designated kickoff gunner? I've only ever heard that for punts.

They’re all kind of gunners. Well, everyone except Mason Crosby. However, teams often put their speediest tacklers on the edges.

Donovan from Moore, SC

Perhaps I've missed it but could you write an article on the changes to the front office since Brian Gutekunst became GM and Alonzo Highsmith and Eliot Wolf left to join the Browns?

I haven’t written a story, but I asked Gutekunst in Indianapolis about his inner circle. He mentioned that while his personnel execs, Jon-Eric Sullivan and John Wojciechowski, might not be household names like Wolf and Highsmith, they’ve been scouting for just as long. There is still a lot of trust and experience in that personnel room.

Denny from Alexandria, VA

Burnett, Janis, and Rodgers are gone in free agency. How does that work? Do their agents just shop them, check in with the Packers to determine the team's intent/offer, declare the player's monetary objectives and run, etc. These guys just seem to disappear from the Packers and reappear somewhere else.

That’s pretty much how it goes when contracts expire. Agents will check in with their client’s previous team and start lining up potential suitors. The train keeps moving.

Josh from Oshkosh, WI

With the questions on Jimmy Graham being a TE who is not a very good blocker, is it possible we're focusing on the wrong thing when it comes to this offense? McCarthy's Packers have never had a great blocking TE, but he has utilized fullbacks more than most teams in the league. So maybe blocking TE isn't much of a concern to him since he utilizes his fullbacks in that manner?

Bingo. The Packers traditionally have favored hybrid tight ends (Finley, Cook and Graham) more than in-line guys. When Green Bay signed a blocking TE in 2013 (Matthew Mulligan), the team wound up releasing him during final cuts. There were many reasons why the Packers struggled offensively last year, but the lack of a blocking tight end after Martellus Bennett’s release wasn’t one of them. Aaron Ripkowski gives the Packers what they need out of a backfield blocker, as well.

Don from Spencer, IA

Other than Seneca Wallace’s brief stint as Rodgers’ backup, has an Iowa State grad ever played for the Packers?

*The only other Cyclone who has played for the Packers was receiver/returner J.J. Moses (2002). Green Bay has never drafted a player from Iowa State, either. *

Scott from Janesville, WI

I saw an Instagram video of Josh Hawkins working out. He looks like a beast. Do you think he can fight his way up the depth chart and help this team?

Hawkins has the speed and arm length every cornerback wants. He needs to take the next step. He’s had two years in the system and an enormous opportunity in front of him this summer. This is his shot.

Gavin from Albuquerque, NM

I think moving a punt with fake punt option up to the 40-yard line is too much. If successful, it gives the "kicking team" the ball at the 50 yard line. In situations where a field goal can win a game, that's too much give for the receiving team. It makes the play way too sensitive and more impactful than the kickoff currently is.

That’s where it gets tricky because the best punting average last season (Brett Kern’s 49.7) still would only put the ball around the 10-yard line. There already would be no such thing as touchbacks punting from the 40, so I can’t see pushing it back any farther.

Jordan from Summerville, SC

Wes said he "gave in" to pick Josh Jackson. Some fans say with 12 picks we'd be crazy to trade back. However, I'd never want the Packers to "give in" to selecting someone, especially in the first round. If your guy is gone, and there's no one else you're really excited about and who fits the value of that pick, that's the perfect time to trade back regardless of how many other picks you have.

It’s not that I’m not excited about Jackson. I just wasn’t sure at first whether he’d fit the system. I’m beyond that now. Green Bay could move back, but that doesn’t mean the guy the team wanted wasn’t available. It could be the opposite like last year when the Packers moved back because of a deep board. Someone is going to be there at No. 14 whether it’s Jackson, Denzel Ward, Derwin James, Marcus Davenport, Vita Vea or Minkah Fitzpatrick. The only question is what will the board look like when the Packers go on the clock?

Darin from Madisonville, KY

Should there be any concern the Rodgers extension hasn’t been completed yet? My understanding was that they were just waiting for the other free-agent QB pieces to fall in to place. That happened a while ago. Does this potentially mean trouble is a brewing?

Not at all. Kirk Cousins wasn’t the only QB contract waiting to fall into place. Matt Ryan is coming due for an extension, as well. You never know when these things will happen. There was almost no indication an extension was brewing the last time Rodgers signed a contract in 2013.

George from North Mankato, MN

How do you see preseason snaps being divided if Rodgers stays about the same? 50/50 between Hundley and Kizer or does Callahan factor in the backup arms race?

That might be the way it starts, but it’s up to the backup quarterbacks to decide. Taysom Hill played 11 snaps in the preseason opener last year compared to 26 each for Hundley and Callahan, but earned more reps throughout camp with his performance in both practice and games.

Scott from Martinez, GA

In the last CBA players pushed for less practice time over the course of the preseason and season to, what many would say, the detriment of the level of play and performance (i.e. a decrease in tackling). Do you feel players may possibly revisit this issue for the next CBA? I would hope they are also able to see that reduced practice time is hurting the on field product.

Not without somebody conceding something. Once one side gains leverage, it’s not likely to relinquish it. NFLPA fought hard for that measure in 2011. I don’t see it changing.

William from Scranton, PA

Going back to Ted Thompson’s first draft. Terrence Murphy was a guy that I thought flashed prior to sustaining a career-ending injury from spinal stenosis. Was this the same prognosis as Nick Collins? Is this something teams can evaluate at the combine?

I don’t recall Collins or Jermichael Finley being diagnosed with stenosis like Murphy was after his helmet-to-helmet hit from Thomas Davis, but they sustained comparable spinal-cord contusions. Stenosis is a pre-existing condition, but not everyone shows obvious symptoms of the disorder.

Brandon from Medford, OR

Cliff’s article regarding the two past GM’s best draft picks. I hope it reaches the masses who think the Packers have been unsuccessful in not winning more Super Bowls, especially as of late. While as fans we want that, the stats he provided show they have been one of the top seven teams consistently, at least since 1992. And being only one of seven teams with multiple Super Bowls since that time is incredible. The outlier of course is New England with five and only two of those teams have three.

Cliff’s story is an easy read and definitely *worth your time. He throws out some interesting blasts from the past, as well. Two things struck me about the article – how good Ted Thompson was at drafting in the second round and how Ron Wolf built the Packers back into a contender by finding so many complementary pieces in the mid-90s.*

Mike from Hastings, MN

With Martellus Bennett announcing his retirement, does that automatically entitle the Packers to a refund of two-thirds of his signing bonus?

*It has no bearing on the process because it was the Patriots who made Bennett a free agent after his release. The Packers’ only hope now is their pending appeal of the arbitrator’s ruling, which has yet to surface.  *

Matt from Verona, WI

The Titans nailed it with their new uniforms. Awesome look.

They looked the same to me.

Doug from Union Grove, WI

Augusta National. Final round of the Masters. Par 3, No. 12 at Amen Corner. I'm caddying for Wes Hod, who has a three-stroke lead. What club does the young phenom ask for? A six-iron (I hit my sevens short)…and anything but a pimento cheese sandwich once I get back to the clubhouse.HAVE A QUESTION?

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