Sean from Helena, MT

So, with the new catch rule, Dez probably would have caught the ball, and the Cowboys scored another touchdown. Then, do you think we would have another memory of a game-changing, four-minute drive from Rodgers?

Of course. The Packers had scored 17 points on their last three drives, and Rodgers’ bad calf was frozen by then. Would he have needed a field goal or touchdown to win? That’s the only question, which would have depended on the Cowboys’ two-point try at 27-26.

Henry from Jackson, WY

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The NFL just instituted fines and potential ejections for "lowering the head to initiate contact." How does this apply to both sides of the ball? Is a receiver as culpable as a cornerback should he drop the crown of his helmet and strike his opponent while the opponent is trying to tackle said receiver? Can a running back truly drop his pads and initiate contact? Please clarify!

A running back can drop his pads without leading with the crown of his helmet, and a receiver dropping his head to protect himself is different than doing so to initiate contact. Defenders will have to focus on head-up tackling, which they should be doing anyway. From the way it sounds, these are mostly going to be up to the replay official, and I suspect ejections will be handed out only for the egregious acts, at least at first.

Richard from Madison, WI

My initial reaction to the NFL's new rule about what constitutes a catch was an unqualified HOORAY! What am I missing?

How long the replays might take anyway.

Mike from Algoma, WI

How can any definition of a “catch” using the words “football move” ever be conclusive?

It’ll still be subjective. There’s no getting around that. This was about simplifying the rule and the process of determination. I hope the league has been successful here, but as I said yesterday, I’ll believe it when I see it. The application in the games will tell us.

Tom from Palatine, IL

I watched the Packers-Cowboys game from last year on NFL Network the other day and enjoyed watching how good that offense looked with Aaron healthy. Looking forward to seeing what he can do with his new teammates. Who do you see stepping up next year on the offensive side of the ball?

I’m most interested to see what Adams can accomplish on the outside with Graham commanding attention in the middle.

Jake from Greenville, NC

Who got the better deal, Green Bay with Wilkerson or the Rams with Suh?

The Packers clearly got the better bargain, but both teams got what should be motivated players. That counts for something.

Kenton from Rochester, MN

Hey Mike, usually I'm pretty supportive of the views you express here, but I have a little problem with your response to Eric from Green Bay who suggested not extending AR's in the next two years and franchising him after that. You stated "ticking off the face of the franchise ... is not in the best interests of the team." But apparently they weren't worried about "ticking off" AR by getting rid of his favorite target and good buddy even though Jordy seemed willing to restructure his contract. (Obviously, I'm still hurting from that one.) Or isn't loyalty to a teammate on the same level as one's own contract?

Contract issues, especially when recognized as one of the best if not the best player in the league, are inevitably much more personal in my view. Not saying there aren’t emotions surrounding the release of Nelson, but it’s almost impossible not to take contract talks personally.

Robert from Dresden, Germany

Mike, I'm sorry if I'll make you say it again, but I have some sympathy for Eric from Green Bay. You always (rightfully) say that contract negotiations are a two-way street and that it takes two to tango. But it's a two-way street for the player, too. It's the contract Aaron Rodgers agreed to and the franchise tag provisions his players union agreed to. And I think it's perfectly reasonable for the organization, the team and the fans to expect him to hold up his end of the deal. And if he is ticked off because his (unwarranted) expectation of a premature restructuring of his contract wouldn't be met, so be it. There's not much he can do about it without also hurting himself. In my opinion the approach is dangerous not so much because it might tick off Aaron Rodgers, but that it could easily backfire in the long run: if (star) players see that GB would not shy away from using the franchise tag on its future HOF QB, it doesn't add to the (already short) list of reasons to sign with the Packers.

Your last point falls under my “not in the best interests of the team” line. I don’t think an expectation of a restructure is “unwarranted” when five years after you signed your last deal the QB market is now dictating 30 percent more than your salary for a guy who’s never won a playoff game. It behooves any organization to pay its premier players what they’re worth, and the projection five years ago as to what Rodgers would be worth in 2018-19 was way off. To hold that against the player would be bad business all around.

Loran from Platteville, WI

Packers players have generally been successful around the league after leaving in free agency. Coach McCarthy openly admitted that defensive players were not used well. Given those two facts, what do you think of the theory that most of the solutions to our defensive woes are already on the team? In other words, how much do you think Pettine will improve the defense even outside of the draft and free agency?

Pettine will have an impact, no doubt, and the Packers have their share of capable players, when healthy. But you need greater depth of talent for a coordinator to be creative, for your top-flight players to maintain a high level of play for four-plus months, and for when injuries unavoidably strike. At two linchpin positions on defense – edge rusher and corner – the Packers must build that depth.

Mike from Exeter, PA

The last two times we played the AFC East we won SB 45 (2010) and nearly got there again in 2014. By far two of my favorite seasons as a Packers fan. If you're superstitious this could once again be our year!

Brady vs. Rodgers in Foxborough for the first time. It’s almost hard to believe.

Mariano from Cerritos, CA

Gentlemen, there have been a lot of changes in the NFC North for 2018: new coaches, new starting QBs, etc. What do you expect to see from each of them looking forward?

I expect the Vikings to be an extremely tough team, especially at home, though I don’t expect wholesale changes on offense with Cousins at quarterback. The Lions should improve considerably on defense under Matt Patricia, which can take some of the burden off Matt Stafford. The Bears will be defined by the development of Mitch Trubisky under Matt Nagy. If he’s the real deal, it becomes a matter of putting the right pieces around him, and the Bears are going to find some of those pieces in this draft.

Andrew from Pleasantville, NJ

I know a boundary corner would be ideal with our first pick, but the idea of adding Derwin James to our D is very intriguing. Any thoughts?

I would have no objection, but I seriously doubt he’ll be there at 14. Great movie about your town, by the way.

Brett from Boonsboro, MD

“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.” Um, yeah, if you could italicize this and put it above the “Submit Question” form, that would be great...

On it.

Matt from Minneapolis, MN

Carson Wentz and Jared Goff both have cap hits around $7.5 million this year. When they are due for their next contract, they will likely make at least $20 million per year more. The Eagles and Rams will never be able to spend as much on their supporting cast as they can now. Is there some sense for them to go all in to win a Super Bowl in the next two years, pay the price for the next few years after that, gain some high draft picks, and then use those picks to build a young team with a veteran QB that can make another push for a Super Bowl?

If your quarterback is the right guy, he’ll keep you in contention and you won’t be stockpiling high picks even after you pay him and your cap structure changes (see Seattle). Because I believe strongly in the playoffs-as-crapshoot theory, I’m in favor of building a long-term contender and taking your chances in January each year. I know it’s only produced one Super Bowl in the McCarthy era, but five of eight postseason losses coming in walk-off fashion indicates the Packers have had plenty of legitimate chances. At some point, they’ll cash in again. I firmly believe that.

David from San Francisco, CA

I think an important factor in the Rams moving all-in is establishing a fan base in Los Angeles before the new stadium opens in 2020.

I agree that’s part of it, but as has been discussed, it’s more about maximizing on the window when the franchise QB is getting paid peanuts (relatively speaking), as the Seahawks did. They came one yard away from back-to-back Super Bowl titles.

Eric from Green Bay, WI

Mike, what incentive do teams like the Giants have of giving in to the demands of OBJ? They know he has a finite career and the only leverage he has is to sit out and deprive the team of his services, and himself of millions of dollars. If I'm the Giants, I call that bluff every day of the week and twice on Sundays...especially for a diva, injury-prone, and bratty WR who could possible fetch high draft picks from a gullible and desperate team.

I hear what you’re saying, but calling that bluff on the team’s most talented player is a tough sell to a fan base whose squad has gone 7-9 or worse four of the last five years and is coming off its worst season (3-13) in multiple decades. You can’t win when your best talent is not on the field.

Dan from Houston, TX

With the growth of online viewing do you anticipate a change in the next CBA concerning the salary cap, or are we still two negotiations away?

Did you see the jump in rights fees for the Thursday night package? At some point, those increases are going to level off, but it might be a little ways away yet. And when it arrives, the NFL can sell digital rights packages to keep driving revenue higher. I don’t think the salary cap has peaked by a long shot, if that’s what you’re asking.

George from Milwaukee, WI

Hey Insider Inbox guys. Brewers, over/under 85?

I’ll take the over. I’m bullish on the Brewers this year. Already have tickets for several games. They may not have enough starting pitching, but I think they’re going to be an exciting club. When he did the Brewer games on radio with Bob Uecker, Jim Powell used to say on opening day that baseball was “here to hold your hand every day for the next six months.” I’m excited for that daily companion to arrive.

Vinny from Arlington, VA

A question about Montgomery, but not to worry, it's not about his jersey number or what position he should play. My question is what position does Montgomery most enjoy playing? How does he view himself (other than a playmaker)? Does he not have a preference between playing running back or WR? He will be a free agent after this season, I believe, so does he have an ideal position he would like to play?

He seemed to indicate heading into last year that he enjoyed running back more, but a player in his spot will just want to get on the field any way his team sees fit.

Wayne from Green Bay, WI

I don't get people's obsession with overpaying for a high-profile WR. Randy Moss, TO, Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green, Julio Jones, Dez, OBJ...How many rings do they have? Zero. I think their playoff record is pretty bad, too. Who do you think is the top WR to win a SB in the last 20 years? Off the top of my head, I can only think of a declining Marvin Harrison or maybe Isaac Bruce.

I wouldn’t call Harrison declining in 2006 with 95 catches, 1,366 yards and 12 TDs, though he got hurt the following year and that was pretty much it. I see your point, but Moss, TO and Julio all played in Super Bowls that just as easily could have been won. They were major reasons their teams got there in those years.

Ted from Green Bay, WI

There is a study analyzing the first round of the NFL Draft over the course of 25 years and the success rate of drafting a Pro Bowler in the first round. Highest success rate concluded: Safety, linebacker, and interior lineman. Lowest success rate concluded: Running back, defensive lineman, and wide receiver. Do you find these positions surprising?

Not really. Safety and interior linemen aren’t drafted as often in the first round, so when they are, they’re usually rated head-and-shoulders above the others at their position. Running back is a curious case because it shifts every few years in terms of draft value. Trent Richardson scared everyone off for a few years from taking a back in the first round, but now guys like Zeke Elliott and Leonard Fournette have changed the thinking again.

William from Milwaukee, WI

If you had to draft five NFL players past or present for a game of dodgeball, who makes the list?

I think scrambling quarterbacks would make the best dodgeball players because of their elusiveness and strong, accurate arms. So give me Aaron Rodgers, Michael Vick, Russell Wilson, for a throwback, Fran Tarkenton, and I’ll let you pick the fifth. Have a great day, everyone.


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