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There's a progression to it all

This is a reset, not a revival


Curt from Oronoco, MN

Is the new turf for Lambeau a technology upgrade or just a replacement due to wear?

There will be some upgrades to what's underneath, but the new playing surface is mostly a replacement due to wear.

Patrick from Pearland, TX

Matt Patricia uses John Wick's spare pencil.

Does it have Jon Voigt's teeth marks in it?

Tom from Westfield, MA

Any word yet on whether Pettine will be in the box or on the sideline? I really hope the sideline, I never believed you can do your job 100 percent from the box. You need to be on the sideline where you can yell at or praise the players after stupid or great plays in real time as they come off the field, and don't tell me they are professionals and don't respond to that. They may be mostly millionaires, but during the heat of the game they are mostly kids who respond to verbal contact in the moment, not later during film review.

It's amazing to me how strong the opinions are on this. I think Pettine needs to be where Pettine believes Pettine can do Pettine's job the best.

Ethan from La Crosse, WI

Can we be done with questions about players switching positions? The ones about Ty were fun for a while, and some people entertained moving Clark to TE, but the one on Friday about Spriggs switching to TE is so absurd I need to ask for a permanent moratorium on those questions.


Eugene from Pueblo West, CO

During the Olympics women's slalom event it was commented on that a skier from Slovakia had blown her ACL in September 2017 and retired. A surgeon contacted her about an experimental surgery, she agreed to give it a try and mere months later competed in the Olympics. Have you heard anything about this experimental surgery?

No, but you've piqued my interest.

John from Dresden, Germany

For me in Germany, the Inbox always airs one hour before taking the train home from work. And reading it is the best way to get up to date, while in the same time starting with a laugh into the free time of the day. Thank you for that! My question is: There are always some rumors before the draft, which guys could be steals in the undrafted rookie class. How do they even go undrafted when it seems several teams have an eye on them? Wouldn't it be a case for taking a shot maybe in Round 7 instead of risking to lose the guy to another team?

If there's enough attention on a guy, he's likely to get drafted because some team will have a draftable grade on him, or others will grab him late anyway if their board has been wiped out. It's just another part of what makes the draft so unpredictable.

Bill from Champaign, IL

Have they ever or would they ever do the combine in gear vs. just shorts? Wouldn't that give teams a better idea as to how the prospect might perform in pads?

Pads won't tell anyone much unless the drills are full-contact, and then you run into even more complicated medical and liability issues than the league is already taking on before the players are even drafted.

Mike from Glenwood, IL

I get sick and tired debating with Bears fans that all their new QB needs is weapons. I feel it is the opposite. The fact they feel he needs weapons is an indictment on Trubisky. I feel a true game-changing QB like Rodgers could go to any team in the league and throw for roughly 4,000 yards, 30-plus touchdowns and fewer than 10 picks. I also feel a guy like Trubisky would have similar results even with Green Bay's receiving corps. Am I wrong here in assuming this is merely a fan base who hasn't had a franchise QB since the Eisenhower administration clinging to crumbs of hope?

Let's be honest, Chicago's receiving corps leaves plenty to be desired. I think special receivers help young QBs, and special QBs can help young receivers. Matt Ryan was pretty good, then Julio Jones came along, and now Ryan can win games without Jones if he needs to. Rodgers had Jennings and Driver when he started, and Nelson and Adams eventually grew into the job as well. There's a progression to it all.

Scott from Fredonia, WI

I'm sick of, "The Packers were last in the NFL against play-action passes between 6 and 9 yards against mid-tier quarterbacks throwing to slot receivers DVOA," and "Here's five potential cap-casualty quarterbacks the Packers could sign as a backup, starting with Tom Brady" headlines. When is something going to actually happen?

Is this your first offseason?

Brett from Brisbane, Queensland

Hi guys, I have been having fun on a mock draft simulator site. It gives you a better appreciation for the people running the draft. It's so hard when players you love and want get picked before your turn. When was the last time you really liked a player and he fell to the Packers?

I remember smiling back in 2009 when the Raiders reached for Heyward-Bey at No. 7 overall, which opened the door for Raji to be there at 9. It doesn't get much more fortuitous than to have the consensus top nose tackle on the board the very year a switch to a 3-4 is in the works. It was a similar feeling in 2014, when the Packers had a screaming need at safety, there were two considered first-round material, and Clinton-Dix was there at 21 for Green Bay.

Dale from Kettering, OH

Who watches what at the combine coach-wise? And Insider-wise?

We have access to all the news conferences of GMs, coaches and prospects, but that's about it. Coaches will watch some drills of the players at their positions, but mostly they get in on the hotel-room interviews to try to get to know these guys.

Mark from Yellow Bay, MT

I know you don't want to talk free agents, but do GMs talk about other teams' free agents before their deadlines? In other words, does Gutekunst have a list of likely/interested potential free agents before the start of free agency?

Teams build free-agency boards, just like they do draft boards. The two-day negotiating window (or legal tampering period, however you'd like to define it) gives teams an opportunity to gauge a potential front-line free agent's interest. With anyone else, there's plenty of time to figure it out because only the big-time guys sign right away.

George from North Mankato, MN

I hope Brian Gutekunst does not stray too far from the model that Ted Thompson lived by in free agency. The short list of compensatory picks Ted amassed by not signing every free agent the fans would have liked includes Mike Daniels, Josh Sitton, Richard Rodgers, Davon House and Blake Martinez. Not to mention picks weren't lost when Jared Cook, Letroy Guion and Julius Peppers were signed.

I could be proven wrong, but I'll continue to maintain I see Gutekunst using more mid-level free agency than making blockbuster signings. McCarthy has suggested the depth behind the starters has been too young at times, and I agree. A few signings after the big-ticket guys go by can fix that pretty quickly. He'll go after a top dog at some point, but if he's doing his job well he shouldn't have to every year.

Keith from Bend, OR

Comment … as a Packer fan since the Lombardi days, I have to say, Cliff Christl's articles are amazing!

He's the best-kept secret on any NFL website as far as I'm concerned. Love Deschutes from your town, by the way.

Andrew from Huxley, IA

Frank Kaminsky night was pretty swell, eh?

The university appropriately honored him, and then the team did, too.

Dustin from Almena, WI

Crystal-ball business indeed. I have the feeling that Aaron Rodgers and company are "due" for a SB appearance. This team was 4-1 with its only loss coming to a team opening up a brand new stadium. Now add in a healthy roster with an overhaul in the staff which at the very minimum creates urgency. Whatever happens in the offseason, I cannot wait. My question is, as a part of the Packers organization do you try and interpret the crystal ball? Or do you stay in tune with a more professional approach of taking it day by day?

In this job, you have to pay attention to both.

Paul from Chicago, IL

I think it's fair that contract size determines the value of the compensatory pick. If the Packers didn't think Micah Hyde was worth a big offer, why should they get a higher pick for being wrong?

Perfectly valid point.

Larry from Greensboro, NC

Spoff, do you think if Brett would have had Brooks and Sterling before tragic injuries he would be counting more rings?

Impossible to say, so I don't engage too much in these kinds of hypotheticals. I'm not sure Brooks becomes what he became if Sharpe is never absent, and who's to say if the Packers would have drafted Freeman in the third round in '95 if Sharpe hadn't been forced to retire?

Mark from West Bend, WI

When does the annual dollar amount of a player's contract count against the salary cap? Is the full amount applied at the start of the new NFL year? Just curious how the cap hit would work if a veteran player would be traded on the day of the draft.

The player's upcoming salary is counted against the cap on the first day of the new league year. If he's traded on draft day, the salary is wiped from the cap, but any roster bonuses received that year or pro-rated signing bonus money would still count.

Aaron from Fort Wayne, IN

Insiders, this probably isn't a popular idea, but what if the Packers were to let Rodgers' contract run its course and then franchise tag him for the remainder of his career? I'm sure Rodgers wouldn't like this as long-term deals and big signing bonuses are everything to the players. However, being at an older age and not knowing when would be his last year for sure, wouldn't this be the more financially sound decision? I'm not saying do it (and potentially sour the taste in Rodgers' mouth), but what would be the benefits and pitfalls of such a decision?

I've seen this suggested often, and you answered your own question. Why rankle your franchise QB over cap games and prove-it non-commitments? Financially it might make some sense through two franchise tags, putting Rodgers in his late 30s, but it would be a petty way to treat a player who's done so much for the organization, and your next franchise QB would know he's in for the same, so he's going to keep significant leverage at all times.

Jared from Clawson, MI

When Ron Wolf was hired, you had the sense things were going to change for the better. When Holmgren, Favre and Reggie White came to town, you knew the revival was underway. Nothing like that going on with the Packers now. It all looks like decline to me. The team still hasn't recovered from the 2014 disaster in Seattle and likely won't until Rodgers is done. Disagree?

Wholeheartedly. You're comparing a team that made two playoff appearances in a quarter century with one that just missed the playoffs for the first time in nine years. You want a "revival" due to something that happened four months and two days ago? This is a reset, not a revival.

Josh from Pomona, CA

Who are some of the best pass rushers to have been drafted in the late rounds? Do you have to hit on them early?

Jared Allen and Elvis Dumevil were fourth-round picks, and Robert Mathis was a fifth-rounder. But they are by far the exception, not the rule.

Erik from Bonduel, WI

My questions come from me seeing way more of the "trick plays" around the league this year than I ever remember. Who are, if any, non-QB Packers to throw a TD? Also, with Rodgers being one of the smartest and most deceptive play-callers out there (all the time I see him getting defenses with 12 men on the field and jumping offside), why do you think Green Bay doesn't run more trick plays?

To my knowledge, in the last 30 years or so, the only non-QBs to throw a TD pass for the Packers are Tim Masthay, Ahman Green, Tony Fisher, and Bubba Franks. I'm admittedly not a huge fan of trick plays because they have such a short shelf life, but I get they have their time and place.

Michael from Winchester, VA

Because it's (a) the off-season and (b) Valentine's week, I'd like to ask: How did you meet your wife? Was it more like a draft pick or a free-agent acquisition? And which of you was the pick and who was doing the scouting? If the question's not too personal, I hope you can have some fun with it.

Mutual friends, who were dating at the time, set us up. We lasted, they did not. I'm not sure how to make a football analogy out of that, but there you go.

Jeff from Greenwood, MN

Mike, please don't leave us hanging regarding that nugget on grandpappy Spoff. More info please!

He received a letter from the Yale dean of students (a copy of which I still have, framed) informing him that a suspension was pending due to trafficking with a bootlegger, and he was to come to the dean's office to discuss it. When he arrived, the dean asked if he had anything to say. My grandfather replied, "I didn't know trafficking was spelled with a 'K.'" True story, and an enlightening one in many ways. Have a good weekend, everybody.

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