If I had a nickel for every time someone at the NFL combine in Indianapolis asked me if I embarked on my own dark retreat, I’d be a rich man.
But if I were rich, maybe I wouldn’t do these mailbags anymore, and what would we all be doing with our lives without these mailbags? Probably just stewing with our minds – much like the quarterback we all watch did during his time in the dark.
Alright, enough about dark talk. Let’s dive into your questions.
Note: Questions have been edited for length and clarity.
Why does a team (the Packers, in this case) need a so-called No. 1 receiver? Wouldn’t it be more disruptive to have multiple good receivers so the defense can’t “anticipate” the most likely place the ball will go? Scattering catches around seems to be a better approach. – Paul S.
They don’t need one, per se, but it’s nice to have a guy like Davante Adams, Justin Jefferson or Stefon Diggs. No one would argue that not having someone like that makes your offense worse. Sure, it might make the plays more predictable — defenses knew Rodgers would regularly target Adams — but part of the reason these guys are true WR1s is because they can still beat defenses even when defenses have an idea of what’s coming. For a team like the Packers, who don’t have the so-called No. 1 wideout entering the 2023 season and instead have a pair of guys in Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs who have flashed the potential to be a back-to-back, WR1 spot is just a depth map designation. With both healthy, it will add a sense of unpredictability to Green Bay’s passing game as to who gets the ball.
Why can’t the Packers be the ones to end the Rodgers relationship? I know they can’t trade him without consent as he can only retire at that point. But if Jordan Love is ready to start, why not transfer now while the salary cap is a challenge and there are a lot of noticeable issues (to address)? -Craig B.
I’m not convinced that the Packers wishes to end the Rodgers relationship just yet. Love may be ready to start, but the Packers believe Rodgers gives them a better chance to win right now. Love is the better long-term option, but Rodgers is the quarterback who can help them contend for a championship today. I understand the financial implications and why trading Rodgers now makes sense from that standpoint, especially with other holes to fill on the roster, but why would the Packers voluntarily take themselves out of Super Bowl contention by trading Rodgers if they believe they have him makes them contenders and not having him knocks them down a notch?
What is the Packers’ plan to address the tight end position? It seems long overdue that the Packers have had a consistent threat here. As much as many of us like Robert Tonyan, we’ve seen what other (better) offenses can do with a tight end like TJ Hockenson, Travis Kelce or Dallas Goedert. – Ryan G.
I would be surprised if Tonyan is back. There’s no doubt he has some of the best hands in the NFL among tight ends, but he doesn’t sniff the game-changing tight ends you mentioned. Having one of these could take Green Bay’s offense to the next level. This draft seems stacked at the top with players like that, and getting younger, cheaper and more dynamic at the position is sure to entice Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst.
“It just seems to be a good year for them,” Gutekunst said of this year’s tight end crop. “I don’t think it’s something we’re seeing in college football change, it’s just a little more deviant than anything else.”
How much of a priority is the offensive line in the draft? I keep coming back to the idea that maybe it’s not as big of a problem as it usually seems. I think you either ride Josh Myers or Zach Tom at center and look for another tackle late, although I’m hopeful for both Rasheed Walker and Caleb Jones at this point. To me, this draft feels like it should be almost all about defensive ends, outside linebackers, safeties and maybe a few offensive skills. mind? – Adam B.
Not a big priority. I could see Gutekunst taking David Bakhtiari’s successor because 2023 could be Bakhtiari’s last year with the team, but even then, the Packers have a pair of young tackles on the team in Tom and Jones who could be next in line at blindside. Bakhtiari, Elgton Jenkins, Myers, Jon Runyan Jr., Tom and (probably) Yosh Nijman will all be back next season — Nijman is a restricted free agent — so the Packers will have the same top six next season as last. There are certainly far more immediate needs than on the offensive line, regardless of where free agency occurs.
“The depth on the offensive line, I think we have 13 guys that we expect back next year,” Gutekunst said. “For an offensive line, you’re usually in the single digits this time of year.”
Is it difficult to cover Rodgers critically? – Anders R.
No. What I’ve realized is that the angry mob on Twitter doesn’t always reflect reality, especially when it comes to Rodgers, so sometimes I need to take a step back from reading what everyone else is thinking about him and look at the situation objectively. For example, people are annoyed that he’s “holding the Packers hostage,” but he’s actually not. They have said a decision on his future must be reached before free agency begins on March 15, and there is still plenty of time before that deadline. I’ve been publicly critical of Rodgers both on and off the field, and that hasn’t affected my access to him. For example, I wrote that he was the anchor that sank the ship in the Packers’ Week 9 loss to the Lions, then we talked on the phone for 20 minutes the next Tuesday for a new story. So I’m going to continue to cover him as I have for the last four years.
Who are your favorites for the Packers to take in the draft at pick No. 15? – Evan D.
I’ll give you three, one each on what I think are Green Bay’s three biggest needs before free trade. Iowa edge rusher Lukas Van Ness, Alabama safety Brian Branch and Utah tight end Dalton Kincaid.
Let’s say Love starts all 17 games next year. What is the over/under on wins if the defense improves even a little? – Chuck R.
I expect Vegas to put it at 8.5 if Love is the starting quarterback.
If Rodgers is traded, how many backups are there on the roster and will one be a veteran free agent? Fans sometimes forget that (former Packers GM) Ted Thompson drafted both Brian Brohm and Matt Flynn after Brett Favre “retired” in 2008. — Greg P.
I think they will still only keep two quarterbacks and that Love’s backup will be a veteran free agent signing. In that scenario, some possibilities among this year’s unrestricted free-agent QB crop include Jacoby Brissett, Taylor Heinicke, Gardner Minshew, Drew Lock and Cooper Rush, among others.
If Rodgers does return, it seems almost the responsibility of the organization to trade Love. They really need to give him an opportunity for a new contract salary. After all, the Packers drafted him. He didn’t ask to be a packer. So in light of that, what are the realms of possibility for love? Do you take him as a safe second rounder in this year’s draft? Taking a late-rounder this year with a condition that allows for the potential of a Round 1 pick in ’24? Go for a player-for-player swap? Other possibilities? -Rick S.
Sure, it’s the “right” thing to do for the Packers to trade Love and give him an opportunity to start somewhere else if Rodgers returns. But Gutekunst won’t just transport him for a bag of peanuts. In my opinion, it would have to be something significant for the Packers to grant a trade request if Love makes one. I’m talking about a second round pick, which I’d be surprised to see a team give up for someone as inexperienced as Love. Does the love last if the Packers don’t trade him? Does he let it play out and hit the open market after the 2023 season (assuming the Packers don’t exercise his fifth-year option if Rodgers returns)?
“I’m excited to see Jordan grow and play, and I certainly expect it to be here,” Gutekunst said before acknowledging there could be variables that change that plan.
How little should the Packers take to get Rodgers traded? A first-rounder this year, a conditional second-rounder who could be a first-rounder if he plays two years and one starter? What do you think the top of the market will be? – Alex A.
I want to target two first-timers and a player, and Jets owner Woody Johnson might be that desperate. Of course, that’s if Rodgers is even available in a trade. If not that offer, then maybe a first- and second-rounder in ’23 and a player, or a 2023-first, 2024-seconds who will be the first if he continues to play and a player is good enough.
What are the Packers’ plans with Darnell Savage Jr.? If the Packers draft a safety in the first two rounds, will there be an opportunity to move Savage closer to the line, where he’s usually better, or will the Pack look to trade/release him? I think he is a talented player, just not given the right opportunities in his current role. – Gordy T.
No, this one is not on the coaching staff for not giving Savage the right opportunities. He was demoted from security and slot last season. It’s just being bad. I’m still confused why the Packers exercised his fifth-year option last year and guaranteed him nearly $8 million in 2023. No team is trading for that salary, and they can’t cut him outright. Green Bay will just have to hope he’s somewhat at least serviceable in 2023, and unless he turns out to be a stud, the Packers would likely let him go next offseason, especially if they draft a safety in early April.
No. 12 (Rodgers) stays, Love goes on. Are we taking a QB in this draft? -Lewis H.
This quarterback class takes a dive for the top four, all of whom should go in the top 10. As such, if Rodgers stays and Love is traded, it might be better to sign a veteran backup for 2023 and draft a quarterback early next year. However, if Rodgers plays just one more year in Green Bay, it would go against the Packers’ organizational philosophy of “don’t wait until you need a quarterback to draft one,” so maybe they’ll draft one early in 2023 if they really like someone after Bryce Young , CJ Stroud, Will Levis and Anthony Richardson are off the board.
(Photo of Christian Watson and Aaron Rodgers: Dan Powers/USA Today)