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Who will have the clearest crystal ball?

Guaranteed money is the most important factor in free-agent contracts


Bones from Ripon, WI

Are they running away?

Some of the fans, yeah, but they'll be back.

Glenn from Mechanicsville, VA

Would you agree that while the salary cap has achieved the league parity the NFL has sought, it risks destroying the league in that there will never be the football dynasties we fans enjoyed so much in the past? There is so much turnover from season to season it's sometimes difficult for a fan to find his/her beloved team's true identity.

I would argue the current system makes dynasties, however defined, more worth celebrating because they're harder to achieve, and a system that gives fans legitimate hope after a rough patch is more valuable than any team's supposed identity.

Jalonie from West Hills, CA

Looking at some of the corners in the draft, their heights range from 5-10 to 6-3. Is there a downside to having a corner too tall?

Not if he can run and flip his hips as fluidly as the others, but those are rare breeds.

Hansen from Waukesha, WI

Insiders, with the players of the 2013 NFL Draft class having their rookie contracts officially expire, it made me think, if teams could get a redo of the 2013 draft, where do you think the Packers' own David Bakhtiari, who was drafted in the fourth round, would be selected?

Top 15 wouldn't be out of the question.

Bryce from Anchorage, AK

I'm interested in your thoughts on James Conner out of Pittsburgh as a possible Day 2 or 3 selection for the Packers. What are scouts saying about him? He seems like one of those guys flying under the radar who could become a steal.

I was working on a Prospect Primer on Conner that'll be posted probably early next month. What a story. Can he actually get all the way back to what he was pre-cancer? That'll determine whether he becomes a steal.

Ben from Bloomer, WI

This time last year I posted our secondary was legit scary, our O-line was suspect, and Lacy was gonna have a monster year looking to get paid. None of that turned out to be true. Football is a game of surprises year in and year out.

It's what keeps us tuned in.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Mike? Arizona, really? Hey, stick to football!


Justin from Gilbert, AZ

Insiders, how valuable is all the Packers intel that is now being spread to the Seahawks, Lions and Vikings?

It's too much. There's no way the Packers can beat those teams now.

Andrew from Cincinnati, OH

How much different is the process and the wiggle room between a player's first and second contract talks with a team?

The 2011 CBA basically eliminated negotiating with draft picks (the occasional Joey Bosa situation notwithstanding) by slotting all the contract figures. That's been very good for the league, and an overlooked plus. It's only on a second contract that in-depth negotiations take place these days.

Mike from Wauwatosa, WI

In the story about the two new TEs being confident about getting on the same page as Rodgers, Kendricks said that after he was released Thursday, the Packers were calling Friday morning before he even got up. How did the Packers find out so quickly that he was available? Is there some kind of system that all the teams can check to see who is newly available, or is it more just hearing through the grapevine?

The league has a transaction wire that goes out at 3 p.m. every business day, but often news of roster moves leaks out before then.

Dan from Leland, NC

Insiders, there are a few teams that consistently are in the hunt, and a few that rarely are. Most are somewhere in between. Do you think fans understand what a fine line exists between success and a nice try?

Do or do not. There is no try.

Curt from Oronoco, MN

Collectively, one might be surprised by the number of FA's lost; but looking at each case, a different picture emerges, doesn't it? The Packers were never going to a) pay Tretter starter money b) break the bank for Cook with other good options out there c) re-sign Lacy after he gained back 40 pounds coming off surgery, or d) pay market for both Perry and Lang. Include Jones in there as a part-time player with low impact, and it all makes sense to me.

Me, too. That's what I tried to convey in a number of different responses in yesterday's column, but judging by today's Inbox, it didn't go over very well.

Mike from Keshena, WI

Wait a guys get paid to do this? Amazing!

I know, right?

Michael from Savage, MN

Could it be that TT and Ball let the FAs go and the money they are receiving this year to position GB so they can look at redoing Aaron's contract so he is happy for a lot more years plus receiving more salary cap relief?

It's not the primary concern at the moment, but you ignore your franchise QB's contract at your own peril. It's a piece of the puzzle, all the time.

David from San Diego, CA

Packers need to draft a premier RB with one of their first two picks, but I am afraid they will shop around in the fourth to sixth rounds and find someone just average.

Word is the backs that will be drafted in the fourth round this year are second-round backs of previous years. Who will have the clearest crystal ball?

Matt from Rewey, WI

Is there a point in free agency where UFAs are no longer factors in the formula for compensatory picks?

Yes. I'm not sure of the exact date, but it's sometime around mid-May. Long live Rewey.

Stewart from Ankara, Turkey

Not surprised to see Lacy and Lang go, but it seems like they were our two most physical guys. Losing those guys could make us ... soft. I know football players are all inherently tough, but isn't this a danger in losing both those guys?

Forgive me for not asking Mike Daniels if the Packers have gotten soft.

Ricky from Albany, NY

Why was Jayrone Elliott re-signed instead of Datone Jones? Do TT and MM see him as more valuable going forward or was the money just that different?

Both. Elliott does far more on special teams. Jones' departure didn't surprise me in the slightest.

Rod from Peoria, IL

After several years observing the free-agent scramble and draft, I think I may be starting to understand the Packers' strategy. One thing I don't understand is when free-agent players say, "It's not up to me." Sure, they don't control whether a team makes an offer or how much it might be, but ultimately it is up to them to negotiate/take it or leave it. What do they mean when they say, "It's not up to me"?

That's code for money talks.

Scott from Chicago, IL

Mike, I can't believe you and the idiots you publish questions from are worried about 2018 compensatory picks. How have we improved a defense that got blown off the field at Atlanta? Last I checked, we only have eight draft picks, and many holes to fill. How do you live with yourself writing this column?

I don't live with myself. I live with my wife and two kids.

Tim from Madison, WI

Former Packers executive Andrew Brandt recently had a great tweet: "Anyone who has watched the waiver wire over the past month knows what happens to 30-40% of these FA signings. 2017 signing = 2019 cuts."

That's why the guaranteed money is the biggest factor in free-agent contracts.

Kevin from Louisville, KY

I'm on both sides of the fence on the departing free agents. On one hand, I know Ted has a plan. On the other, I'm just really going to miss watching Eddie Lacy smash people.

And the chants that echoed through Lambeau when he did, yeah.

Courtney from Branson, MO

Couple of points. Why is it that no team in the AFC East challenges NE? Seems each year, NE only has to beat one real challenger and, last year, they got lucky Oakland lost their QB. The only other game NE has to play in is the SB and they seem to split that anyway. What does GB have to do to be that team?

Well, the Brewers changed leagues about 20 years ago. I don't see the NFL realigning anytime soon, though.

Jeriah from Las Cruces, NM

I don't fully disagree with what Thompson has done this year in free agency. I do believe he made a big huge mistake last year at this time. Not signing Perry and Cook to multi-year contracts severely affected this team's ability to retain important role players this year. If Perry and Cook were still under contract for lesser money we would have been able to retain Lacy and/or Lang.

What part of my headline last week, "It takes two to tango," did you not understand?

Lori from Brookfield, WI

Mike, you recently quoted Martellus Bennett. "I speak several quarterback languages, and I just have to learn which one to speak with Aaron now." What an intriguing thing to say. Did he elaborate on that statement? Was he referring primarily to non-verbal communication, or a quarterback's preferences and expectations in certain situations? Please provide the inside scoop.

All of the above, and I think it was also a bit of Martellus being Martellus.

Robin from Winston Salem, NC

Sad to see Lang go, but totally understandable that we could not match the Lions' offer. This made me think about our remaining O-line group and their contracts. My own amateurish conclusion is that drafting Spriggs was an odd move. Do you think they just stuck to their board and picked the BAP? At the time, were they not confident in signing Bakhtiari to an extension? A second-rounder seems a little rich for a backup to the already strongest position on the O-line?

There were no guarantees on the Bakhtiari extension, but the more pressing issue was the lack of an adequate backup tackle, which nearly sunk the 2015 season when Bakhtiari and Bulaga were dealing with injuries. They had to shore it up, and when the last of the "first-round tackles" in Spriggs was still on the board in the middle of the second round, Thompson traded up to nab him.

Eric from Phoenix, AZ

Sorry if my question gets buried in my ranting. I just can't believe the mutiny cries from the fans week after week. Not many teams have been consistently relevant for the better part of a decade. The Packers have been. Yes, that's largely thanks to one player, but there were still people wanting him on the bench back in November. Anyway, my question is, does the volatility of this fan base weigh on the players and staff? Or are they able to block it out like the white noise it is?

If they can't block it out, they're in as bad a shape as the fans believe they are.

Richard from Truckee, CA

I can't believe how many people are lashing out at you guys. This is sad. It can't feel good to open a box that's yelling at you for telling the truth. I'm sorry you have to endure this. Keep up the good work. For me, I don't know how much more I can take.

Neither do I, which is why …

Tom from Minneapolis, MN

During the offseason, besides any sporting event, what do you look forward to the most?

… the two weeks I take off in late March start when I finish this answer and hit send. Be good to Wes. Peace, all.

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