Eric from Oshkosh, WI
Could you please explain how you see re-signing our own players as making the team ‘better?’ I get how losing a good player (Calais Campbell being the example you used) hurts. The Cardinals got ‘worse’ by letting him go. Had they kept him, they would have maintained the status quo, and would have been better than they were without him. But re-signing him would not have made them better than the previous year. For the Packers, signing Davante Adams and Corey Linsley was crucial to maintain success on offense. But re-signing them didn’t make us better than last year. Re-signing them, and adding another quality player, theoretically makes us better. That’s why we fans see it as maintaining ‘status quo.’ What are we missing?
Because nothing stays the same in this league. Davante Adams is a perfect example of that. Many fans wanted him cut after a difficult, injury-riddled 2015 season, but Adams absolutely made the Packers better the following year and then became a go-to target in his fourth NFL season. A player might have the same last name on the back of his jersey, but that doesn’t mean he’s the same player from one year to the next. Part of the NFL is getting today’s investments to pay off tomorrow. That’s why I’m so adamant in saying a team isn’t staying “status quo” by re-signing its own players, especially when it operates with a draft-and-develop mindset.
Wesley from Market Weighton, East Yorkshire, UK
I wonder how this defense would look if B.J. Raji hadn't taken a hiatus and Sam Shields hadn’t been lost to concussion. It's got to be hard to replace two starters who leave unexpectedly for no compensation.
I put the loss of Shields at the same level as the Packers losing Nick Collins in 2011. Those were game-changers. Raji stepping away after 2015 was more manageable since his decision came after the season. It also led to the Packers taking Kenny Clark.
Vinny from Arlington, VA
For those fans who may have welcomed the change in GM, should they be concerned that Brian Gutekunst learned under Ted Thompson and will have Thompson as a close senior advisor? Can he separate himself from Thompson, who is still part of the organization and a mentor to him? Do we expect him to have different philosophies in drafting?
Since when is learning under Ted Thompson considered a bad thing? It’s worked out pretty well for John Schneider, Reggie McKenzie and John Dorsey. They all build in their own distinctive way. I expect Gutekunst to be his own general manager, too. I don’t take Thompson as a meddler. It’s Gutekunst’s ship now. Thompson is there to advise him.
Jordan from Summerville, SC
Clay Matthews may not be the force he once was, but he still has many splash plays each season. How do we keep him fresh and healthy? How does that strategy fit with potentially drafting another front-seven guy?
I’m not saying Matthews is at the stage of his career where the Packers have to monitor his workload like they did with Julius Peppers, but a deeper rotation would help everyone. That 2014 core of Matthews, Peppers, Nick Perry and Mike Neal kept guys fresh, and allowed Dom Capers to be multiple with his disguises and rush packages.
Patrick from Bel Air, MD
Unless you are going to jump in the free agent pool for a superstar, I believe signing your own free agents is much more effective. It's been written here before: You know what you are getting signing your own.
There’s no added learning curve in re-signing your own players, either. That’s no small thing given how the league is structured now with its offseason programs.
Wayne from Green Bay, WI
Mark Murphy spoke of silos this offseason. It seems pretty clear that one of the silos was between the personnel department and the coaching staff. Chris Odom was on the roster for most of the year and contributed next to nothing. Devante Mays, all the young cornerbacks. We had way too many jars on the shelf.
That’s something Gutekunst has spoken at length about. He wants to build stronger lines of communications between the scouting department and coaching staff. As for Odom, I’m reserving judgment. He was an undrafted rookie who had to learn an entirely new playbook at the start of the regular season. Not an ideal situation.
Jeff from Farmington, NM
How much do you think a player would be willing to give up of salary to be able to play for a contender versus an expected bottom dweller?
It depends on the player and where he’s at in his career. I think guys going into a third or fourth contract are probably going to consider the destination a little more than a player getting his first big payday.
Paul from Manitowoc, WI
Considering Aaron Rodgers’ two collarbone injuries and today’s technology, is there any way to create a device that protects the collarbone without inhibiting range of motion, or mobility?
I don’t know what kind of shoulder-pad technology is out there, but not having to play on field turf would be a nice start.
Bruce from New Canaan, CT
Cleaning up some odds and ends from the Super Bowl, I was thinking about the Patriots' extensive use of the "mortar" kickoff. Stephen Gostkowski seems particularly adept at having the kickoff come down within a yard or two of the goal line. Is there any chance that the league moves the kickoff touchback back to the 20-yard line to reduce the incentive to try the mortar and just kick it to the back of the end zone?
I don’t think we’re ever going to see touchbacks go back to the 20-yard line, which I’m OK with. I’m fine with exercising caution, especially after seeing Johnathan Franklin’s career come to an end on a kickoff in 2013.
AJ from Sheboygan Falls, WI
Could the Packers construct a Super Bowl roster just with the players they drafted who had their career end early by injury? Thinking about Sterling Sharpe, Jermichael Finley, Nick Collins, Johnathan Franklin and Shields. Who else would make the team?
The players you mentioned, outside of probably Franklin, had a chance to establish themselves in the league. Terrence Murphy never got that chance. Wouldn’t it have been something if the Packers hit on all five of those second-round WRs under Ted Thompson?
Stefan from New York, NY
I was thinking about the read-option play when the QB holds the ball in the RBs gut and then fakes the rush to cause hesitation in the defensive rusher. Can that player legally hit the quarterback every time? Is the QB considered a runner or in the pocket when he's faking it?
If the quarterback carries out the fake, the defender is allowed to hit him.
Derk from Chippewa Falls, WI
Can you see the NFL allowing linemen to go further down the field on pass plays to open up RPOs even more?
Ron from Tama, IA
Do you see the Packers going into the free agent market to bring in a tight end or do you draft one? If you go the draft, who are your top choices?
I’m going to say it’s more likely they draft a tight end rather than sign one (or two like last offseason). Mark Andrews and Hayden Hurst are high on a lot of lists I’ve seen, but I’m intrigued by several of these smaller school prospects such as Dallas Goedert, Tyler Conklin and Adam Breneman. The tight end position has seen some hidden gems come out of nowhere to make an impact in recent years. Who’s next?
Connor from Murray, UT
If you were the Browns, how would you like the idea of taking Saquon Barkley at No. 1 (best offensive talent in the draft), letting the chaos happen at No. 2 and 3 seeing who fights for which QB, and at No. 4 if your QB is there whether it be Mayfield, Allen, Rosen or Darnold?
I’d still go with the quarterback if Dorsey and his brain trust feel like there’s one worthy of going No. 1. Cleveland has taken its shots at running backs before (Trent Richardson, anyone?) and missed. They missed out on two franchise QBs two years ago. I don’t see it happening again.
Kevin from Janesville, WI
I'd rather draft a young backup quarterback the staff feels can be taught our system and pay him under a rookie contract with the hope that at most he only has to fill in a few games. That extra cap space can be used to pay individuals with a greater chance to make an impact in any given game. Why use a bunch of cap space on someone who will hopefully ride the bench all year. In reality, if your guy goes down for over half the season, your chances aren't that great anyways.
I don’t think a lot of fan understand the price tag for veteran backup quarterbacks. Nick Foles is going to make some good coin next season (granted not as much as he would have if he signed a one-year deal last offseason). It’s easier to pay those salaries when a team has a starting quarterback who isn’t breaking the bank.
Mike from Stevens Point, WI
It appears compensatory picks will be announced by the end of the month. I’ve seen the possibilities of the Packers receiving a third-round pick and three fives or a three, five and two sevens. Your thoughts? See how I avoided the incessant “what say you?”
And we thank you for that. I’m guessing it’ll be the former. T.J. Lang is a lock for one of the third-round picks and I think Micah Hyde, JC Tretter and Jared Cook will command fifths based on their contracts and performance.
Joe from Clio, MI
Wes, you’re in charge of fixing the catch rule so it is less complicated, yet fair and consistently applied. What do you do?
Use your common sense like the referees and New York did in the Super Bowl and speed up the process. If it takes longer than a minute to overturn a completion, then it’s pretty clear in my mind the receiver caught the ball.
Bernabe from Monterrey, Mexico
Then how come Devin Hester kept No. 23 as a receiver when he changed from cornerback?
Based on what I’ve read, Hester was allowed to keep his number because 23 was an acceptable skill-position number since running backs are permitted to wear it.
Gary from Warsaw, IN
Going into the draft with the No. 14 pick, the Packers will have their eye on three or four players? Once they’re gone, is that when they start to look at trading back?
I can assure you the Packers will have more than three or four guys on their board when they go on the clock. A decision to trade back probably would be more a reflection of having several players with high first-round grades still on the board rather than a dearth of the viable prospects.
JJ from Ocala National Forest, FL
I was reading about who throws the hardest. It would be fun to do an NFL pass, punt and kick competition. I heard Ray Nitschke could throw from goal line to goal line. Have you guys heard that?
I have heard that. There are quite a few guys on this current Packers team who can chuck the pigskin. Davante Adams and Richard Rodgers are two who can really sling it.
Colin from Tripoi, WI
I see the strength of schedule reports are out. Packers have the toughest road blah, blah, blah. They had the easiest last year and look what happened. It's really simple. If you want to be the best, then beat the best. I say bring them on. One thing I learned from Vic is good teams don't take what they get. They take what they want. Would you guys agree?
I do. It’s a young man’s league and a lot can change in one offseason through the draft and free agency. The Packers have completely renovated positions in the past in a few months, including the backfield last year. Everyone overanalyzes strength of schedule right now because there’s nothing going on, but the Rams and Jaguars didn’t turn out to be the cupcakes everyone expected them to be back in August.
Bob from Glasgow, DE
Wes: If you didn't know, the "Wooooooooooooo" has a Wisconsin connection. Mr. Fliehr graduated from Wayland Academy in Beaver Dam in 1968. A teammate and classmate.
That’s awesome. I wasn’t aware of Ric Flair’s Wisconsin connections until his “30 for 30” in November.
Chris from Victor, ID
Wes, are you saying you're the Uncle Rico of curling? Lucky.
Back in ’04, I could put a stone right on the button. If the skipper would’ve put me in the final frame, we would’ve been state champs. No doubt. No doubt in my mind. You better believe things would’ve been different.
Michael from Garwin, IA
Enough speculation on next year. What are they doing to the "frozen tundra"? I enjoy looking at Lambeau even though I can't get there. Fill me in.
As Spoff wrote about it back in October, they’ve started swapping out the turf in preparation for next season.
Kurt from Frisco, TX
Did you miss the Luke Wilson quote from “Armageddon” by Corey yesterday? #buildthelambeaumausoleum
Shame on me. I’m not current on my “Armageddon” references. Also, good luck with the hashtag and top marks for getting the spelling of “mausoleum” right.
Nick from Chicago, IL
We were in California for two weeks and didn't get to read the columns. Anything I missed? Besides the snow.
A few “Shawshank Redemption” references and a ton of Jeff Janis questions. Man, I never thought I’d say those two things in the same sentence.
Kyle from Philadelphia, PA
I am a lifelong Packers fan from Idaho, who moved to Philly the same year they won the Super Bowl. I am thinking of moving to Green Bay next year, just to see what happens. My question for you is, why has my dad made the Insider Inbox on several occasions and I have yet to make it? You have made a competition between us and he is destroying me.
Experience and wisdom, my friend. But hey, at least you’re on the board now. Spoff is back Thursday, y’all. Great questions this week. It’s been real.
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