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They'll be better for what they went through

A receiver in the hand is worth two in the bush


Al from Green Bay, WI

We are still 50 days away from the NFL Draft, and already the buzz is reaching deafening levels. Do you mind if I wait for about 51 days to get excited about who the Packers will pick?

I'll allow it. Good morning.

Nariah from Chippewa Falls, WI

True or false: The Packers will have a better roster of players in 2018 than they did in 2017.


True. I still feel the Packers had a Super Bowl-caliber team at the start of the year when Aaron Rodgers was on the field, but depth was an issue. I think a part of that was how free agency affected Green Bay's roster last winter. Young players were tossed into the spotlight and some were more ready for that moment than others. Either way, they'll be better for what they went through.**

Austin from Caledonia, WI

Has there ever been a "Mr. Irrelevant" that ever actually became relevant?

Titans kicker Ryan Succop probably is the best modern-era example.

Jim from McLean, VA

I somewhat agree with Eric from Milwaukee in that a lot of fans want to draft Badgers. Wisconsin has fielded very impressive teams the last decade. As a refresher, how have their top draft picks fared over that time period?

Aside from Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin's first-round picks have fared well in the NFL over the last 10 years. J.J. Watt, Kevin Zeitler and Travis Frederick are arguably the best players at their respective positions, while Melvin Gordon III has developed into an every-down back for the Chargers. The Badgers have put some good players in the league.

Mike from Fort Wayne, IN

Are the players' agents floating around with them at the combine? Or observing them from a distance?

The NFL agents' meeting was last Thursday in Indianapolis, so a majority of them were at the combine. Some will grab lunch or dinner with their clients, but they're watching from afar due to the players' hectic schedule.

Amy from Bayport, MN

Who does the inviting for the NFL Scouting Combine? Is the committee comprised of NFL scouts? Do they take suggestions from coaches or requests from players?

Every NFL team is encouraged to provide input on the invitees to the player selection committee, comprised of NFL personnel executives, and directors of the National and BLESTO scouting services. Participants can rotate on an annual basis and remain anonymous. All eligible players are reviewed and voted on.

Andrew from Dayton, OH

What is with the obsession from the fans over drafting a QB this draft? Is it Rodgers' age? This is a totally different situation than what we had to endure with Brent.

It's cheaper entertainment than a movie?

Rick from Montello, WI

Being spoiled with back-to-back HOF QBs, any prospect jump out at the combine the Packers could draft and develop into a decent starter?

It seems like the draftniks already have Richmond's Kyle Lauletta destined for the Hall of Fame.

Alex from Ipswich, UK

Regarding Jarvis Landry's situation, if he's traded, does the receiving team pick up his franchise tag? Do they have to sign a new deal? What's the point in using a franchise tag and then asking the player to seek a trade?

The receiving team assumes the contract and the player plays under the franchise tag unless the two sides agree to a long-term deal. Teams also don't have to ask permission to trade the player. Ted Thompson used the tag-and-trade provision in 2008 when he sent Corey Williams to Cleveland for a second-round pick.

Mike from Virginia Beach, VA

OK Wes! Do you and your cohorts believe that FA Sammy Watkins makes all of our WR group better?

Maybe, but I'm concentrated more on the receivers on the Packers' roster than the ones set to hit free agency. A receiver in the hand is worth two in the bush…or something.

Nick from Chicago, IL

I don't care what the media says about Jordy Nelson. You cannot replace that type of leadership, humbleness and composure. Sometimes the person outweighs the football player. Jordy is a class act and he's earned his spot on this team for the remainder of his career. Downfield blocking? No complaints. AR goes down? Steps up as the voice. Losing record? "We're going to fight every day." Case closed.

Nelson is the epitome of what it means to be a Green Bay Packer. There is no drama in his DNA. He comes to work, does his job and is accountable regardless of the result. I still believe he has what it takes to play as long as he wants in this league because of his versatility, savviness and experience.

Erik from Bonduel, WI

I tried researching myself and couldn't find a definite answer. What happens if a player is drafted by a team he doesn't want to play for? Let's say Duke Dawson wants to play for Green Bay and gets picked to play for the Browns. Is there a way he could be traded right away if maybe the Packers drafted someone they wanted and could an even exchange take place? Rookie for rookie, is that a thing?

It sure is. It doesn't happen as frequently as in the NBA, but it's possible. That's what happened with Eli Manning and Philip Rivers in 2004.

Joe from Manchester, England

If you were a GM with the first pick in Dallas looking to tag "the man" to lead your franchise for the foreseeable future, which quarterback would you take and why?

Sam Darnold. Everything I've heard is he has what you want in a top quarterback prospect – size, arm strength, mobility and good awareness. If you can give him a year to develop, I think you have a franchise QB on your hands.

Dan from Kenosha, WI

You have answered several questions about how the combine is handled and, more specifically, the interview portion. Did you answer those questions based on your perception and intuition based on how you would do it if it were your responsibility? Or, do you ask the people whose responsibility it is how they do it?


My answer is based solely on asking people about the interview process. Otherwise, I'd just be speculating, which doesn't do anyone any good.**

Logan from Bloomington, IN

Are teams allowed to trade for "cash considerations" like other leagues? If so, can this be used to create more cap space or is it just dollars physically changing hands?

NFL teams can't trade players for cash. They are allowed to trade a player and let's say a pick to unload a large contract with guaranteed language like the Texans did last year with Brock Osweiler, but money can't be exchanged.

Mark from Sturgeon Bay, WI

Now that Russ Ball no longer works directly for the GM, what happens if the GM says I want to sign a player, make it happen? Ball says he has to reduce salary somewhere to do that. Under the old hierarchy, GM makes the decision. Now with silos, each answers only to Murphy. Doesn't that make these types of decisions more contentious than before?

I don't know how many times I have to say it – the roster belongs to Brian Gutekunst. He has the final call. If he wants something done, make it work.

David from Los Angeles, CA

In reading Mike's column regarding McCarthy going back to Page 1 of the offensive playbook, I noted the reference to less offseason contact with the players. I clearly have seen a significant decline in the quality of play league-wide, likely for this very reason, combined with fewer contact practices. My question is, why should players receive large salaries for essentially part-time work? They may work on their conditioning, but how many hours a day? And why should a lower quality of play league-wide be accompanied by ever-rising ticket prices?

There are more restrictions in terms of offseason instruction, but I'd hardly say the NFL is a part-time league. It remains a year-round grind. I remember a conversation Rob Demovsky and I had with Brett Hundley near the end of the season. He mentioned how most players don't see the sun after the clocks are turned back in November unless it's their Tuesday off-day. There's just more onus now on players independently staying in shape and in the playbook than ever before.

Paul from Farnborough, UK

With only 16 regular-season games, how much playing time and experience is required for our current young first- and second-round draft picks to become a strength in the secondary?

It depends on the individual. Some players adapt quicker to the NFL than others based on their own background, the scheme they played in college and how quickly they learn. I will say Kevin King looked the part last year. If he gets that shoulder right, watch out.

Andy from Lancaster, PA

What do you think it takes for a top draft pick to be considered a success? Is it longevity? Number of Pro Bowls? A.J. Hawk was drafted at the very top of the draft and, while never a superstar, he did last in the league for over a decade. Is that worthy of the No. 5 pick?


Take a look around Lambeau Field as the snow falls during the first week of March. Photos by Ryan Hartwig,

If you go back and look at that 2006 NFL Draft, there weren't many superstars drafted between where Hawk as taken at No. 5 and Greg Jennings at 52. Maybe Haloti Ngata? It's not like the Packers taking Mandarich over Sanders. Hawk was a good pick and a stalwart at inside linebacker for 10 years. **

Elis from Zephyrhills, FL

Just read an article somewhere that Mike just admitted that Hundley wasn't prepared to be a starter QB. Are we going to keep this guy? I'll compare him with Jameis Winston.


Charlie from Racine, WI

I think the Packers' most valuable "free agent" pickup for 2018 will be Joe Philbin.

And he doesn't count against the cap, either.

Dave from Germantown, TN

I recently saw a list of available salary cap by team. Two teams, Philadelphia and Miami, appeared to be over the cap. Should we expect them to cut some players on March 13? Also, do any players cut to get under the cap count in the compensation formula for next year's draft?

NFL teams need to be under the cap by the start of the new league year next week. Any player who is cut doesn't count toward the formula.

Danny from Torrance, CA

A question was asked if a prosthetic was allowed to be used and you said you didn't think so. My question is, how are players with hand injuries then allowed to play with a "club," aka Perry, since a club is an artificial extension of the arm/hand?

Here is the letter of the law: "Hard objects and substances, including but not limited to casts, guards or braces for hand, wrist, forearm, elbow, hip, thigh, knee, and shin, (are prohibited) unless such items are appropriately covered on all edges and surfaces by a minimum of 3/8-inch foam rubber or similar soft material. Any such item worn to protect an injury must be reported by the applicable coaching staff to the umpire in advance of the game, and a description of the injury must be provided." So there you have it.

Greg from Ann Arbor, MI

The power dynamic in the NFC West has shifted pretty dramatically over the last year or so, hasn't it?

Pretty incredible, isn't it? It isn't easy to stay on top year after year. Players and teams rise and fall on a weekly basis. It's a magnetic league. While there are always outliers, the league's structure and parity eventually pulls everyone back to the equilibrium.

Jason from Tucson, AZ

Are fifth-year options written into every rookie contract, or is it reserved for players the team thinks are likely to produce results in their first four years?

It's written into the contract of every first-round pick.

Rich from Grand Rapids, MI

It will be interesting to see what Brett Hundley shows this preseason. He now has the benefit of seeing film of teams setting up game plans to stop him, and that would seem to be invaluable for his development. I was as frustrated as anybody watching him play, especially on all-22 video, but if he devotes time and attention reviewing that game film, I really think he has a chance to grow more this offseason than any prior offseason.

Preseason never has really been a problem for Hundley, who has completed 98-of-148 passes (66.2 percent) for 1,179 yards, 10 touchdowns and two interceptions in exhibition games (107.3 passer rating). You can't buy the kind of experience Hundley got last year. From Kurt Warner to Jared Goff, most signal-callers need to walk through the fire before finding themselves as an NFL quarterback.

Bil from Olathe, KS

Isn't Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State only 5-10? I thought GB had an unwritten rule of not having short cornerbacks on the team. I would be very leery of a CB who is always six inches shorter than who he covers. Might not matter in college, but when is the last time a short cornerback excelled in the pros? I'd pass, even if he is there at No. 14.


I'd be leery if I was drafting Ward to be a boundary cornerback, but there's an opportunity for smaller DBs to defend against slot receivers. That's why I feel the rules aren't quite as rigid as they were back when Ron Wolf instituted his 5-10½ rule. Offenses operated in more traditional base packages and needed lengthy cornerbacks to defend the boundaries in the 1990s.**

Carl from Moreno Valley, CA

Chris Ivory signs with the Bills. Yet, FA signings can't take place until next week. What's different about his case and others who have signed with new teams already?

If a veteran player is released from his contract, he's free to immediately sign elsewhere.

Joseph from East Moline, IL

Tony Hawk Pro Skater or Golden Eye?

Golden Eye.

Jack from Naperville, IL

I hope Joseph from East Moline doesn't ask the Insiders to come into work this weekend. Also, you guys might want to give that red stapler back to him...mmkay? That'd be great.

Yeah, coming into the office wouldn't work for me. I'm supposed to watch Kung Fu this weekend. Do you ever watch Kung Fu? Channel 39?

Tyler from Winter Park, FL

I want to give thanks to Joseph from East Moline for the "Office Space" reference. Finally a movie reference I get. Would you guys consider adding some pieces of flair to your attire for "Three Things"?

You know what, Tyler, if you want me to wear 37 pieces of flair, why don't you just make the minimum 37 pieces of flair? Yeah, know what? I do want to express myself and I don't need 37 pieces of flair to do it.

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