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Will a rematch open 2017?

Restocking edge rushers is long-term priority for Packers


Jordan from Milwaukee, WI

Wes, I think you misspelled "beer."

Yeah, I'm working with him on that.

Steve from Alexandria, VA

I'm immensely happy with the Packers' achievements over the past 20 years, and believe perceptions would be vastly different had we held on in Seattle two years ago. Having said that, the Pack urgently needs to step up its pass rush to make a legitimate run against playoff competition next season. Hoping Clay can stay healthy isn't the answer.

With Peppers' future uncertain, Perry's contract up, Matthews turning 31, and Fackrell just getting his feet wet, restocking at edge rusher is this team's biggest long-term priority.

Cindy from Oshkosh, WI

I watched the Super Bowl highlights NFL Network was airing last week and made sure I caught the Packers' last two Super Bowls. My favorite play was the last one of Super Bowl XLV. Fifty seconds left, ball in Big Ben's hands on fourth down, and the most beautifully defended pass by Tramon Williams to seal the win. I don't think he gets enough credit for that play.

It capped one of the best postseasons ever by a defensive back. My lasting memory from that playoff run was standing near the mouth of the tunnel in Philly in the final seconds of the wild-card win, just a few steps away from where Williams made that leaping interception to seal it.

Dave from Lake Bluff, IL

Less a question than a need for a couch and some therapy. I read in here the questions about free agency and trading compensatory picks and the draft, and it occurs to me I'm still stuck. My mind (and heart) are still too caught up in what could have been, begrudging an upcoming TV view of a Super Bowl I, like so many fans, desperately wanted our team to be in. Perhaps some feel like the 2016 Packers got as far as they could. I'm just not ready to let the magic ride go quite yet.

Lucy still charges only five cents.

Justin from Appleton, WI

I was having a conversation about Randall and Rollins with a good friend of mine. He said they simply aren't that good. I told him that it's not fair to say right now, they're only two years removed from being drafted. What is your take? I think they both have what it takes to contribute in the NFL.

I do, too, but it's fair to say more was expected from both in their second seasons after promising rookie years. Injuries were involved, which affected practice time, which may have affected their confidence and other factors. They need to play better and they know it, but by no means is the book written on a pair of guys turning 25 this summer.

Simon from Odense, Denmark

Insiders, I'm curious as to how much Jared Cook's market value has increased compared to last year. He's put up a rock solid year, but he's also done so in a much better offense with a great quarterback. Will he mostly be judged on this year or the last eight?

Cook is a curious case as a pending free agent given how much time he missed due to injuries, but considering how big an impact he made in Green Bay's offense upon returning. His regular-season stats – 30 catches, 377 yards, one TD – don't jump out, but his playoff numbers – 18-230-2, in just three games – certainly do. With a system and QB that can maximize his talents is where his value is highest, so I see him as having a somewhat limited market in scope, but he can be worth a lot to those teams able to fully utilize him.

Alex from Eau Claire, WI

Do you think that the current CBA limits the effectiveness of the draft-and-develop philosophy? With having minimal practice time during training camp and during the week in the regular season, one could argue that by neglecting free agency and just loading up the roster with rookie draft picks and undrafted free agents, it will never be enough. One major injury to a key starter and there is a huge hole left that will never be filled (because) a player is not developed in time due to the limited practice put in place by the CBA.

I've thought about that, and there could be some merit to your argument, but it's not about the restrictions in training camp and the regular season. It's the offseason. Before the 2011 CBA, players returned for offseason workouts in mid-March, a full month earlier than now. Hours at the facility weren't as limited. There were more OTAs in May and June. That's a lot more time young players, the second- and third-year guys particularly, used to spend with their coaches before training camp rolled around. McCarthy has spoken before about the changes adding more challenges for a draft-and-develop program.

Scott from Alys Beach, FL

When a reporter further away from Lambeau than you makes a statement like, "Source tells me GB will be more active in free agency with A-Rod's window closing," or "McCarthy and Thompson disagree on the approach to building a roster," I have to ask a few questions: Is it sensationalist "journalism"? Exploding an off-hand comment into an attempt to make a story? Do journalists call each other out in some way? Would you call a journalist out for b.s. reporting or let it slide?

I would never tell other journalists how to do their jobs, and I don't think what you're describing is sensationalism or anything nefarious. In the online media world, everyone is fighting for attention. If a reliable source tells a reporter something that can generate clicks, he's going to run with it. What you as a reader have to ask yourself is, when only one source is saying it, how credible is it? Why did the reporter not have more sources saying the same thing? Is there any reason, such as the reputation of the writer, I should believe this any more than a comment heard on sports talk radio? Everything is tracked and measured these days. The audience gets what it wants from the media. You have to decide what's worth reading. Many people accuse our website, and this column, of being nothing but propaganda. I strongly disagree, but many of those same people would rather read one-source rumors to get their daily fix. You have to be discerning and develop your own filters.

Nate from Cedar Park, TX

Anybody else still amazed by Allison's performance?

I'm very interested to see how Allison's body develops as his career continues.

Jeff from Victorville, CA

Some believe if the Falcons win the Super Bowl that the schedule-maker would have the Packers travel to Atlanta for the Thursday 2017 NFL Kickoff game. Makes sense to have their last opponent in the Georgia Dome be their first opponent in the new stadium. But, before everyone books a hotel we must remember the Packers have started the last two years on the road, and I just don't see the schedule-maker having the Packers start three straight years on the road. Or would he?

I think a Falcons' victory Sunday would make an NFC Championship rematch in the kickoff opener a distinct possibility, and I don't think the schedule-maker would care about Green Bay's current Week 1 streak, which is actually at three straight on the road right now. The Packers opened at home four years in a row from 2006-09. On another note, the Falcons are scheduled to play at New England in 2017, so if the Patriots win, the opener could be a Super Bowl rematch, as it was this past year.

Andrew from Huxley, IA

Hi Mike, will the Prospect Primer videos be posted again this offseason?

We haven't made all of our plans yet for the scouting combine, where we gather the bulk of that material, but it's in the works.

Dan from Saint Peters, MO

It seems like free agency is only talked about in extremes – dumpster dive or first-week splurging. Given the Packers are carrying over cap space from 2016 and the cap itself is likely to go up roughly $10M in 2017, I think there is a space in between those extremes where the Packers can be successful. Thompson has done well with the guys he has grabbed in free agency, but I think more can be done without crippling future years. Am I way off base here?

No, but I'll repeat what I've been saying the last two weeks – we need to see who's available, and what the prices look like. The cap is going up for every team, which means contracts naturally get inflated. One man's bargain free agent might be another team's must-have when money is available. Wes commented yesterday about the Giants' spending spree, which many readers followed up on. They vastly improved their defense, but as I said a couple weeks ago, they still gave up 38 points in 34 minutes in the wild-card round. The best-laid plans can go up in smoke in a hurry in this league.

Matt from Hartford, WI

I think the media attention would drive me bonkers leading up to the Super Bowl.

I've always tried to block it out, except for the two times I've been there working (XXXII and XLV). So much of it becomes the media covering other media it gets nauseating. I'm glad the game is almost here.

Jim from Salt Lake City, UT

When did the NFL start flagging D-linemen for jumping into the neutral zone, regardless of whether they get back onside before the snap? That's representative of the hooey that's impacting TV ratings.

I don't know what pre-snap penalties have to do with TV ratings, but you're wrong about the rule. The whistle only blows if the defender makes contact, causes an offensive player to move early, or is "unabated" to the QB. I do recall when I was growing up that the rule was different. When a defensive player jumped into the neutral zone and made the offensive lineman move early, as long as the defender avoided making contact, it was a false start on the offense. The discipline required of O-linemen back then was unfair, if you ask me. The current rule took effect about 20 years ago.

Team Photographer Evan Siegle shares some of his favorite images of the 2016 season.

Derek from Eau Claire, WI

Who do you expect to have the most improved record in the NFC North next year?

Too early to tell, but if the Bears go 7-9 or better, that would be at least a four-win improvement, and I don't see any of the other three teams improving by four wins.

Dave from Germantown, TN

Can the Packers sign their own free-agents-to-be at any time, i.e. tomorrow?

Yes. The Packers have exclusive negotiating rights with those players until March 7, and exclusive signing rights until March 9.

Timothy from Toronto, Ontario

Hello Insiders! Thank you for your great work this past season. Will the "Packers Unscripted" podcast continue through the offseason?

We're still working on an offseason schedule, and we'll try to keep you informed when things are finalized. For now, we'll be posting a series of season-review podcasts twice a week for the next few weeks.

Matt from Waunakee, WI

Hi Mike, did you cross paths with Paul Chryst during your time in Platteville?

I was a sixth-grader sitting in the stands at Camp Randall Stadium watching Chryst, the senior quarterback, lead Platteville High to its first (and still only) state football championship in the fall of 1983. His father, George, also coached the UW-Platteville team for many years while I was growing up. I don't know Paul personally, but in the realm of small-world stories, when I came home from college in the summers, I worked on a painting crew with Chryst's backup quarterback from that state-title team. The backup had actually played the bulk of the regular season while Chryst was injured, leading P-ville to an undefeated record. He then was replaced in the playoffs when Chryst got healthy. His glory days stories always had a tinge of bitterness, but they got me through some long summers.

Matthew from Manitowoc, WI

Hey Insiders! I have a question about the Super Bowl logo. I think it's only a matter of time before they get rid of the Roman numerals (even though I'm a fan of them). Was there a reason they did away with some of the originality after Super Bowl XLIV? They seemed to get much more uniform after that and I personally enjoyed the seemingly regional color and flair every year.

If the Roman numerals were going away, they wouldn't have gone back to LI this year after 50 last year. I liked the annual, localized logos, too, but if I recall, the league wanted a more permanent image to represent the sport's biggest game, and decided to focus the logo each year on the Lombardi Trophy, similar to what the Olympics does with the five rings.

Dylan from Amery, WI

"Society needs to groom more human beings like Micah Hyde." Sorry, Mike and Vic. Best response ever. Wait, San Pellegrino? I take it all back.

Rookie mistake.

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