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They aren't finished products

How much will free agency impact the draft?


Nick from Ashburn, VA

I know that our young RBs showed some promise this season, but I can't shake the feeling that we just need a higher-quality back to complement and take pressure off of Rodgers. Do you agree that we should draft or sign a top-tier back or do you think we are fine the way we are?

The rookie seasons of Jones and Williams have me wanting to see more of them. The fact that they both lasted until the third day of the draft, yet performed as they did, tells me they aren't finished products. Not by a longshot.

Tom from New York, NY

Gutekunst has no choice but to make a splash in free agency this year to distance himself from Ted Thompson and quiet the wolves.

Those would be the two absolute worst reasons for doing so.

Steve from Bella Vista, AR

Do you think there is any chance that Jerry Kramer will not make the HOF this year? I'm still mad/angry/upset that Ron Santo did not make the baseball HOF until after he died.

Dating back almost a full decade, only two senior nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame were not voted in – Claude Humphrey in 2009 and Dick Stanfel in 2012. Both players have since been inducted after the senior committee pushed them forward again. There are no guarantees, but I think it bodes well for Kramer, who was a senior nominee once before, in 1997.

Leslie from Algoma, WI

How does the fifth-year option work pay-wise? Does the player still get the same pay as his first four years? Do players hate that or is there a big benefit for them in some other way?

They get a substantial raise, but if they're in a position to get the fifth-year option exercised, they're probably also in position to command more in the way of a signing bonus and multi-year deal on the open market, so it cuts both ways. For the first 10 picks in a given draft, the fifth-year option salary is equal to the average of the top 10 salaries at the player's position. For pick No. 11 to the end of the first round, it's the average of the third through 25th salaries at the position.

Sean from Milwaukee, WI

Hi Insiders! When a player signs a new contract while still under contract (like David Bakhtiari in 2016), does the new contract override the old one or does the old one lead right into the new one?

The new replaces the old.

Kerry from Margate City, NJ

Spoffstradamus! That was precious!

He didn't even warn me.

Dan from Grand Rapids, MI

Derek's question got me thinking. Every year we talk about how many injuries the Packers seemingly have compared to other teams. Is it possible that a major cause of that is eight years of playoff runs, making players push through and aggravate injuries? Perhaps with extra games and practices those nagging injuries (i.e., hamstrings, groins, etc.) linger a little longer and affect OTAs and camps. Hopefully with an extra month off we see a healthier team next season.

One can always hope. The Packers have never missed the playoffs under the current CBA, which pushed back the start of offseason workouts by a month, from mid-March to mid-April. We'll see.

Mike from Mount Prospect, IL

Gentlemen, Wes mentioned that missing the playoffs allows for more healing time. I'm not sure we fans realize the toll a season takes on an NFL player's body. Do you have an example or two you could share about recovery for a specific player?

Not from the offseason, per se, but previous postgame duties had me in the Packers' locker room as players filed in after games, and it opened my eyes. I think I told the story before of seeing running back Ryan Grant take off his pads, and his body looked like it came from a medieval torture chamber. Another time I saw an absolutely gruesome looking foot (Josh Sitton's) and ankle (T.J. Lang's) on the same training table right after a game. In all instances, the players were back on the game field in seven days. I never underestimate what these guys put themselves through physically to play this game.

Ron from Berlin, WI

Have there been any thoughts using Ty Montgomery as a tight end?

Not that I know of, but at least then there'd be no need to discuss a number change again.

Andy from Sun Prairie, WI

Insiders, I'm hoping you can answer this because I can't find any logical explanation as to why the NFL doesn't switch its non-conference games from an entire division to the four teams in the whole conference that have the same spot in each division, like it does with the three extra in-conference games. For example, instead of GB playing the entire AFC North this year, wouldn't it make more sense to play each AFC division's top opponent, since we were in the No. 1 spot in our division? Seems like it might make things more fair from a SOS standpoint.

I think that would create too much imbalance, frankly, but that's not the point. Your suggestion could lead to several AFC-NFC matchups never occurring, or not occurring for long, long stretches. The current system guarantees a matchup with every team from the other conference once every four years, and with every team in the conference once every three. That's good for the game and the fans.

Tim from Charlotte, NC

Wes: "There are two unfortunate benefits of not making the playoffs..." Is this an example of a paradox or an oxymoron?

I love Wes-isms.

Matt from Kula, HI

Don't you think it may be a huge mistake to assume the Clay Matthews is over the hill and not worthy to stay with the Pack? If I remember correctly both his dad and uncle Bruce played in the NFL for 19 or so years, so longevity seems to be a family trait. Do you think Clay will be a Packer in September?


Dean from Clarkston, WA

I see a lot of people interested in Gutekunst's first draft. I don't know about you, but I want to see what he does with free agency both internally and externally. To me that will shape his first draft if he can address what he views as needs while not breaking the bank as it were.

I see the Packers with enough immediate and long-term needs, and possessing such a huge pile of picks, that I don't think free agency will actually impact much of what he does in the draft.

George from North Mankato, MN

Are there any issues or rule interpretations that we know the competition or rules committees will be tackling this offseason? I liked the designation for return from injured reserve. Any changes you would like to see?

The ones discussed regularly in this column come to mind – review and punishment of egregious hits, and a streamlined replay process. We'll find out shortly before the owners' meetings in late March the issues the competition committee will be taking up.

Chris from Frankfurt, Germany

Do you guys think full-time officials would fix some of the poor officiating? How much time do the officials currently spend honing their craft/preparing for games/etc.?

I think they spend a lot of time, and I don't question anyone's commitment to the job. I just think the combination of the speed of the game and the technology available to the home viewer has made their jobs more difficult and put them under greater scrutiny. The players and the presentation of the game have impacted officiating considerably.

Joseph from East Brunswick, NJ

I love coming to this blog every morning and reading the questions and responses. The main thing I admire is how you guys think positively and make situations that seem negative to somehow benefit the Packers in the long run. But are Packers writers on this website allowed to have a negative opinion when they believe the organization is doing something wrong or going in the wrong direction?

I won't speak for Wes, but every opinion I express in this forum is mine and it's genuine. If there's an issue that's screaming out for an opinion and you're not getting one from me, you can probably figure out how I feel. You not only have to read between the lines in my Inbox, but you also have to pay attention to what I ignore. How's that for a paradox?

Ben from London, UK

Hi guys, thanks for keeping the column going through the long, cold offseason. My question is, why are you both taking on faith that Rodgers will play until he's 40, just because he wants to? Sure, Brady is doing it. But Brady is the exception, not the rule. Manning went off a cliff fast. That will happen to Rodgers someday, and it may not be that far away.

Nothing's guaranteed, but Rodgers keeps himself in tremendous shape, and I'm not going to doubt him until I see reason to doubt him. Manning had multiple neck surgeries that ultimately sapped his arm strength.

Jon from Salem, MA

Hi guys, I've always been curious what the interviews for head coaches look like. Are the candidates asked about scheme, player management, leadership philosophies, etc.? Is it situation-based? All of the above? I'd love to be a fly on the wall for one of those grueling days.

I would, too, and I'd bet the X's and O's constitute the least important part of the interview.

Nick from Water Mill, NY

Hey men, I think we all agree that a pass rusher is a priority in the upcoming draft. Assuming value is there, which next do you think is more important for our defense, DB or LB?

Boundary corner.

Patrick from Tampa, FL

I already see numerous complaints about almost every recent change. It's too bad we couldn't find the experienced GM who has batted 1.000 at every draft since 2005 and the OC and DC who were both ranked No. 1 in yards and points for the last five years in a row. There are so many perfect people in the world, why are these guys so difficult to find?

It's been a long week or I'd have a really good response to that, but I wanted to post it anyway.

Jeff from Miami, FL

Insiders, does it look like the draft priority will again favor the defense or do you think some mid-range veterans familiar with the scheme will be brought in to shorten the learning curve?


Jack from Indianapolis, IN

The NFC/AFC Championship Games could be represented by two divisions, AFC/NFC South. Has this ever happened before?

If my quick research is accurate, you have to go all the way back to 1982. Dolphins-Jets and Cowboys-Redskins from the AFC/NFC East.

Bob from Sydney, Australia

Hi Mike, you mentioned in your chat that The Gute may look more at mid- to low-tier free agents. I'm not advocating going for broke, but a higher-end free agent (yes, at a greater cost) pushes previous starters down the depth chart. If the signing pans out well, the team has a higher level at starter and stronger depth behind them. Does this make sense, or am I a cap-ruining fool?

If the original starters are young players you'll want to re-sign as their rookie deals expire, you won't be able to afford to keep them with a high-priced free agent at the same position. It all depends on how you pick your spots in free agency.

Mike from Brighton, IL

I for one am excited and optimistic about Pettine being named DC. If it were official, which player do you think would be the most excited and benefit the most from his presence? Hypothetically, of course.

That player might not be on the roster yet.

Zach from Clarkfield, MN

I don't mind Bob from San Antonio's suggestion about the Vikings melting down in their own stadium. Personally, I was hoping that the Seahawks would be the NFC representative and that Blair Walsh would hit the game-winning field goal. Oh well.

For the Vikings to reach the Super Bowl, they might have to get past each of the two teams that crushed their dreams in Minnesota's most recent trips to the NFC title game – New Orleans (2009) and Atlanta (1998). The set-up is intriguing to say the least. Enjoy the weekend of playoff football, everybody.

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