Dan’s Packer 53-Man Roster Prediction

QB (2) – Aaron Rodgers, Tim Boyle

RB (3) – Aaron Jones, Jamal Williams, Tra Carson

FB (1) – Danny Vitale

WR (6) – Davante Adams, Geronimo Allison, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Jake Kumerow, Trevor Davis, Eqanimeous St. Brown

TE (4) – Jimmy Graham, Marcedes Lewis, Robert Tonyan, Jace Sternberger

OL (9) – David Bahktiari, Lane Taylor, Corey Linsley, Bill Turner, Bryan Bulaga, Elgton Jenkins, Alex Light, Lucas Patrick, Justin McCray

DL (5) – Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry, Montravius Adams, Tyler Lancaster, Kingsley Keke

OLB (5) – Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, Rashan Gary, Kyler Fackrell, Randy Ramsey

ILB – (5) Blake Martinez, Ty Summers, Oren Burks, Curtis Bolton, Jamal Crawford

CB – (6) Jaire Alexander, Kevin King, Josh Jackson, Tramon Williams, Tony Brown, Ka’Dar Hollman

S – (4) Adrian Amos, Darnell Savage, Raven Greene, Will Redmond

Specialists – (3) Mason Crosby, J.K. Scott, Hunter Bradley

*Ibraheim Campbell will more likely start the season on the PUP list.

*Don’t be surprised to see the Packers keep St. Brown, then put him on IR and bring back either Darrius Shepherd or Allen Lazard. Same with Curtis Bolton.

*Dexter Williams might be a prime candidate for the practice squad.

Bucks Free Agency

We finally know our answers Bucks fans.

After weeks of debating what the Milwaukee Bucks would or should do in the first wave of free agency, we have our answers. The Bucks decided to give Khris Middleton a big contract, Brook Lopez a big pay raise, signing his brother, Robin, to back him up, bringing back George Hill, and signing Wesley Matthews. The Bucks also made the tough decision to say goodbye to Malcom Brogdon, but did the smart thing and agreed to a sign-and-trade with the Indiana Pacers to get some draft assets back to either use for trades or to keep them. They at least got something for him.

I don’t doubt the Bucks wanted really badly to keep Brogdon. But Brogdon’s play priced himself out of a team that didn’t have a lot of money to go around. One of the problems good teams eventually have to face when they have a lot of talent on their team.

Now the debate amongst Bucks fans will be if the Bucks made the right decision to keep Middleton over Brogdon. Time will tell to see who was right. Middleton is not as bad as many Bucks fans complained about after the postseason run. Did he not play up to expectations? No, he didn’t. But that doesn’t define him as an overall player. Let’s see what this season and the next couple of seasons bring.

I know many Bucks fans don’t think Middleton deserves the big contract he got. Here’s the thing though. If the Bucks didn’t give it to him, some team would have. That was the market for his services. And the Bucks obviously value Middleton a lot.

The thing that does concern me a bit with this team is who is going to be the other option on this team behind Giannis and Middleton. Is it Eric Bledsoe? Brook Lopez? Matthews? Do they even need a third option because they have a few different options with their role players? I’m very curious to see who gets slotted into Brogdon’s starting spot. I would love a more typical shooting guard in there and putting Giannis and Middleton in the front court with Brook.

There does need to be another aggressive offensive player on this team and that has to be Middleton. Giannis is aggressive, but there’s no doubt he will be working on his outside game more to combat teams from playing defense on him like the Toronto Raptors did. Bledsoe can be aggressive, but is he consistent at it? That’s the question.

There are still a couple of questions that remain on this team like who is the new starter, how much of a jump will the younger players take this year, and can Middleton and Giannis take another jump in their game. Losing Brogdon was a big loss, but the fact the Bucks were able to bring back Brook Lopez, Middleton, Hill and signing Matthews and Robin Lopez are solid additions. The Bucks are still one of the best teams in the entire NBA.

Bart, Bucks, and Outdoors

The incomparable Bart Starr leads off the blog for this week. I won’t spend a lot of time talking about him, as you probably heard me talk about him quite a bit this week on the radio and you can check out the latest episode of The Man Cave Football Podcast to hear more thoughts about him.

But I just wanted to say a couple of more things about him. Maybe hammer home a couple of more points.

First, what you see and what you hear about him and his wife Cherry are 100% factual. Often times when we see a celebrity or athlete, we assume they’re these awesome people. We never have met or interacted with them, but we draw these conclusions based off of what we have read or seen on TV.

I was a lucky one to have met and chatted with both Bart and Cherry and every positive and nice thing you heard about them is completely accurate. And when you talk about Bart, you have to include Cherry because they are the ultimate team.

When we use athletes and celebrities as role models, to me, there is no better example than Bart Starr. From everything from his work ethic, to chasing a dream, to succeeding at football, his charity work off the field and just his downright awesome personality in where he treated everyone with kindness is something we should all strive to be like. Bart Starr is the ultimate role model for any age and generation.

The Milwaukee Bucks season ended prematurely for a lot of us fans. And while they fell short of the ultimate goal of winning an NBA Championship, this was still one of the most memorable seasons of their history. I know there aren’t a lot of good things to talk about in the Bucks history, but this season was fun, wasn’t it? Nobody expected this back in October!

Two things regarding the Bucks:  First, if you know me, I usually have the mindset that if you don’t win a championship at the end of the season, it’s a failure. I’m starting to lean off that a bit after watching Mike Holmgren do an interview a while back and he talked about that subject. But I also believe it depends on the team and the situation.

I didn’t have championship goals for the Bucks at the beginning of the season. Those goals and expectations changed during the season and I did have those goals as the season progressed. I think you have to change your expectations to that when your favorite team finishes with the best record in the entire league.

But since they didn’t win the championship, is it a failure? I don’t think so. They didn’t achieve all their goals, which I guess you could call a failure, but I don’t think the season as a whole is a failure.

My second point I wanted to chat about is this notion of bandwagon fans and how it can be a negative. I think the NBA is a very big bandwagon sport. You almost have to be with the amount of times players, superstar players for that matter, now change teams. I seen a lot of people criticizing people for being Bucks bandwagon fans.

Hold up. We can’t at one moment complain the Bucks don’t get talked about enough or they don’t have enough support, than later complain about bandwagon fans. This was the type of season the Bucks needed to get those fans. They needed to draw new fans in and to get more people to watch them. That in turn gets more support and more attention to your team. Call them bandwagon if you want, but a new crop of fans were just introduced to this fun and exciting Bucks team. Now it’s up to the Bucks to keep them drawn in and on the wagon.

 Lastly, checkout http://www.sportstalk1051.com and a new thing I’m trying. Dan Kasper Outdoors.  Since we’re in Wisconsin, the outdoors is a big part of most of our lives, whether it’s hunting, fishing, camping, grilling, and more. We’ll be doing some videos, podcasts, pictures, and a bunch of other stuff.

Please send me your pictures or videos of you enjoying the outdoors. You might be featured on our website. More details to come as we try to figure out this new thing!

Support the Bucks!

The Bucks are in the Eastern Conference Finals. Let that sink in for a bit. Who would have thought this was possible just a year ago? And with a real, legit shot to win the title?!

I think the big question remaining is this: Are Wisconsin sports fans ready to finally embrace the Bucks?

Now before you go off on me and ask what the heck I’m talking about, it wasn’t that long ago someone created that logo that you even see on some vehicles yet or their social media profiles. It was a mash up of the Brewers, Badgers, and Packers logo. No bucks logo to be found. Wisconsin fans didn’t identify with the Bucks. They probably wanted a basketball team in their state, just so they could say they have one, but let’s be real. Unless you were a big basketball fan, you were not paying too much attention to the Bucks outside of southeastern Wisconsin.

It’s an exciting time to be a Bucks fan, but it still has work to do to increase its fan support. And a lot of that lies on us as Wisconsin sports fans.

The easiest way to jump on the bandwagon for a team is two parts. One, have a superstar. Two, win a bunch of games. The Bucks have both of that. So if you weren’t paying attention to the Bucks before because they didn’t have anything to cheer for or someone to gravitate towards, you have no reason anymore. A Greek Freak superstar and the best record in the NBA.

Sure, the Bucks could do more to try to market in the Chippewa Valley. But let’s give them a reason to. Show the support. Wisconsin sports fans are an extremely passionate group of fans. Packers fans…duh. Brewers fans, of course. Badger fans may have made “Jump Around” the state song. We as Wisconsin sports fans can and should now embrace the Bucks if you haven’t already. Let’s stop blaming the national media for not talking about them enough and let’s start paying attention to the Bucks a little bit more. And talking about them a little bit more at the bar stool.

We have a team in this state that has a legitimate shot to win a title. You don’t have to be the biggest Bucks fan or even a big hoops fan to back a state sports team. You can gripe or dislike the style of hoops that’s being played at the pro level. Heck, I do all the time! But I’m backing and supporting my state team, because I haven’t had too many opportunities to do so.

It’s an exciting time in Wisconsin sports right now with the Bucks and Brewers. There will always be that excitement with the Packers, especially with Aaron Rodgers, even with all the negative press the team has been getting. Badgers are usually up there as well.

So let’s go Sconnie! Get on that Bucks train!

Brewers Hot Start, Bucks Clinch, Packers Drama

The Brewers are off to an awesome start. So what’s impressed me the most with just a week into the season? Not Christian Yelich continuing his MVP performance. Not Lo Cain’s catch. Not Josh Hader. All that is impressive, but what impresses me the most is how this team is winning these games so far. These one run battles and come from behind victories, all while not really taxing the bullpen. I don’t know if Josh Hader is the defacto closer for this team now. I think it’s just been based on the close games the Brewers have had where Craig Counsell elects to throw out his best relief pitcher to nail the door shut on the game. And it’s not a wrong decision by any means. Put Hader in the most stressful situations. 

The fun starts this weekend with their series against the Cubs. Throw the records out of this series. This is going to be a battle and I can’t wait. 

The Bucks did it! The Milwaukee Bucks clinched home court throughout the NBA Playoffs. Nobody thought that would happen this year. It’s huge not only for the home court advantage, but the Bucks now avoid playing Philly in the second round. Now Philly and Toronto will play each other in the second round and one team will be knocked out. Huge for the Bucks chances to advance to the NBA Finals.

The question now is, what will the Bucks do with Giannis, Khris Middleton, and Eric Bledsoe? Do you sit them the rest of the season and get ready for the playoffs? A minute’s restriction? I know Giannis says he does not want to sit, but I think you absolutely sit those three and get ready for the playoffs. Not to overlook the first round matchups, but come on. The Bucks should be able to comfortably get through the first round. I say at most, put those guys in a few minutes here and there sprinkled into the final three games of the season.

Alright. Now to the Packers and this drama surrounding McCarthy and Rodgers. I’m not going to go into full detail because you probably heard me talk about all this on the morning show and I’ll address it more in an upcoming podcast episode. But I’ll just say these few points:

It seems like it’s always the same few people criticizing Rodgers. We know who they are. Jermichael Finley and Greg Jennings. Maybe there are some more underlying issues there, I don’t know. But the whole talk about Rodgers and how he treats some of his wide receivers is interesting. I go back to what Davante Adams wrote in a Players Tribune a while back. He talked about a time in his rookie season when he knew the ball wasn’t coming to him, so he was lazy on his route. Rodgers noticed and threw the ball is way to kind of embarrass him. Rodgers barked at the sideline to get Adams out of the game. 

Davante turned into a pretty good pro, no? So Rodgers is probably extremely hard on his receivers. That worked on the likes of Adams, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, and Randall Cobb. Maybe it doesn’t work on others. I’m not sure. 

Did Rodgers and Mike McCarthy have issues? Probably. They were attached at the hip for a long time. I honestly think it was two strong egos going at it. But those two couldn’t put the egos at the front door and concentrate on the most important thing: Winning. They wanted to win, but in their own ways and struggled to work together at the end. They had a lot of success and I think that’s the frustrating part in all this. If you had a lot of success initially, how and why did it get to this point

Look at the Steelers and Packers. Two “model” franchises, now clouded in drama. Then there sits the Patriots. We started to hear about cracks in the foundation last year and issues between Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.

But wait, they just won the Super Bowl. Why? Leadership. Priorities. Brady and Belichick might not get along or they disagree on many things. But Belichick still isn’t afraid to coach Brady hard, even though it sounds like Brady doesn’t like that all the time. But they put all that drama to the side and concentrate on the most important thing: Winning. They know for the team to be successful, they need to put any of that drama to the side and win. Strong leadership. Strong priorities. Ego’s checked at the door. And those are two guys who have every right to have the biggest egos. 

Final Four this weekend! I’ll go Virigina vs Michigan State! 

Opening Day, Badger and Bucks Hoops, Bye Jordy

How about that Opening Day for the Brewers?! Brewers down 3-0 right away and then took back the lead thanks to a bomb from the MVP Christian Yelich. Josh Hader comes in the game to close out the final two innings up by one and he was DOMINANT up until the final batter. And that’s when we may have seen the play of the season with Lo Cain robbing what would have been a game tying home run. Unbelievable. It’s like this team picked up its magic right away from last season. OK, that might be a little hot take’ish with 161 more regular season games to go, but I’m living in the moment. That Opening Day game was awesome!

 Now is when it gets interesting. The next four games we will see Freddy Peralta, Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes, and Zach Davies get starts. These pitchers, especially Peralta, Woodruff, and Burnes, will help determine just how far the Brewers will go this season. Let’s see how they start the season against the Cardinals, a team they will be battling all year long for a title. 

The Bucks are getting closer and closer to locking up that one seed in the Eastern Conference, but all eyes are back on Giannis and his health and the health of his team. Giannis re-aggravated his ankle injury in the win over the Clippers Thursday night. It doesn’t sound too serious, but obviously something Bucks fans, and the Bucks, don’t want to see with just six games left in the regular season. The sooner the Bucks can clinch that number one spot in the Eastern Conference the better, so they can shut down Giannis and get him as healthy as possible for the playoffs. The interesting thing with the Bucks now is how do you manage these final six games to try to get the one seed and rest Giannis at the same time.

A lot of Badger fans are frustrated with the men’s basketball team and head coach Greg Gard. I get it. It’s understandable. The last two years have been extremely frustrating on different levels. The four seasons before that, we saw the Badgers go to the Final Four, National Championship, a turnaround season that lead to the Sweet 16 and a basket away from the Elite 8. Expectations and goals changed on a dime after the Badgers went to back-to-back Final Fours.

Some fans would like to see Gard gone or least on the hottest of seats. Is that fair? Are we asking too much? Are we putting unrealistic expectations on Gard? Yes and yes. I think it’s totally acceptable to ask for high expectations from Gard and this program. You’ve proved you can go to the Final Four and a National Championship. We want that again. But, we also have to be a little realistic at times.

 Let’s see Gard do something now without relying on the likes of a Bronson Koening, Nigel Hayes, and Ethan Happ. This upcoming season will be the tell tale. How do Gard and the team compete without their best player in Happ on the court? Can you land some recruits? The offense might actually be a little better without Happ, because we may see some guys like Kobe King with some more freedom or at least more responsibilities to score instead of running the offense through one player. One thing is for sure though: The Badgers have to get better at shooting the 3. And better guard play overall.

Jordy Nelson is apparently calling it quits on his career. Jordy is a top 5 Packers wide receiver of all-time and one of the most beloved Packers of all-time. When you think of a Green Bay Packer, he will be one of the very first players that fans will always think of. The connection between him and Aaron Rodgers was out of this world and is, in my opinion, one of the best QB/WR duo’s in league history. Jordy may get knocked down a notch from some people, because they will point out the quarterback he played with and that’s what helped his stats. It takes two to tango though in my opinion. Jordy was a special talent and from some of the drama we see a lot of times at the wide receiver position, Jordy was a breath of fresh air.

My top 5 Packers wide receivers of all-time: Don Hutson, Sterling Sharpe, James Lofton, Nelson, and Donald Driver. 

That’s it for this week! It’s going to be a crazy month of April! 

Brewers Pitching, March Madness, Goodbye Packer Greats, and NFL Draft Update!

We’re less than a week away from my official start to spring: Opening Day for baseball! A lot of high expectations, hope, and excitement surrounding this Brewers team this year. But also, a few questions that maybe make some fans a little uncomfortable yet, regardless of the World Series expectations the Brewers have. 

The questions that do surround the team are still the pitching. It was the main question at the beginning of spring training and it’s even more of a question now with some of the latest injuries with the team. 

Let’s start with the bullpen. Bobby Wahl, who came over in the Keon Broxton trade with the Mets, was a hard throwing relief pitcher that was going to be on the big league roster until an ACL injury derailed his season. Then, Jeremy Jeffress suffered shoulder weakness which is delaying his start to the season. Now more recently, Corey Knebel has apparently suffered a UCL injury. Now, it doesn’t sound like it’s a complete tear and there’s a possibility he could avoid surgery. But that’s three relief pitchers now out for an extended period of time for the Brewers bullpen. No wonder the Brewers are rumored to be in on Craig Kimbrel. They need him for keep those World Series hopes alive. 

Then there are the starters. I didn’t think Jimmy Nelson would be on the Opening Day roster at the start of spring training and he won’t be. But I am impressed with his work to get back. His speed is up there and his breaking ball is apparently wicked so far. There were a lot of questions and concerns about Nelson, but he looks to being close to returning to his old self.  

We do know the initial first five starters to begin the season.  Jhoulys Chacín, Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes, Freddy Peralta, and Zach Davies will be the starters for the start of the season with Chase Anderson going to the bullpen. I completely agree with Craig Counsell’s decision. I am surprised they actually did this though. I thought they would still put Anderson in the rotation to start the season, but the Brewers went with the five best starters, regardless of age. 

Brewers season prediction? Let’s go with first in the NL Central again. It’s going to be a close, entertaining, and probably frustrating battle at times. But the Brewers get it done again in the Central. Are they the best team in the NL? Two weeks ago they looked like it. The injuries now to the bullpen concern me. If they get Kimbrel, than I think they go back to being the best in the NL on paper. 

March Madness is in full swing. How’s your bracket looking? Mines OK. I still have my teams making deep runs alive. For now.

I’ll be at the Final Four for the first time and I couldn’t be more excited. I know a lot of casual fans may be tired of Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, and other blue blood programs. But I am really hoping to see a Duke and North Carolina final. That atmosphere would be absolutely ELECTRIC. That’s my dream matchup to see in person at that stage. 

The Packers lost two future Packer Hall of Famers this week in Clay Matthews and Randall Cobb. While many Packers fans will have to buy new jersey’s this year (I suggest Jaire Alexander and Kenny Clark), and it will be strange to not see those two players run out of the Lambeau tunnel, it was time to move on. Brian Gutekunst is not in the business of making feel good decisions and keeping fan favorites. He has to build a winner and a winner now. For entering his second year as general manager, he has had to say goodbye to Matthews, Cobb, and Jordy Nelson. All fan favorites. He may get some flack, but it’s evident he’s all about the winning. 

Check out the latest Man Cave Football podcast episode. NFL Network/The Athletic’s Ben Fennell joins me to talk Packers, NFL Draft, Mike Mayock, and a lot more topics. 

So, what will I be doing for the NFL Draft? Many of you have asked and here are some details. 

Wednesday, April 24th from 3p-6p, I’ll be at Milwaukee Burger Company in Eau Claire for a tweetup. What’s a tweetup? It’s a fancy word for a get together. So, let’s get together and talk about the NFL Draft. What should the Packers do and anything else that’s on your football minds. 

Then on Thursday, April 25th, for the first round of the draft, I will be doing a LIVE web show during the draft. Coverage kicks off at 6:30. So, while you’re watching the draft, grab another TV, your computer, or phone and watch my web show at the same time for instant commentary and analysis. And you can join in on the conversation as well! I’ll have a couple of guests with me and the show will be broadcasted on Facebook and Twitter!

That’s it for this week! Enjoy some hoops action! 

Free Agency and March Madness

Well, they did it.  They actually did it. The Packers did the unthinkable.

They signed a highly sought after free agent.

But not just one. Not two. Not three. But the Packers shelled out big money for FOUR free agents during the legal tampering period. They agreed to deals with two of the best available edge rushers in Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith, a top available safety in Adrian Amos, and versatile offensive lineman Billy Turner.

By now you’ve probably heard enough scouting reports on these players. If you haven’t, well, listen to the latest episode of The Man Cave Football Podcast!

So what do I want to talk about in this blog regarding these signings? Let’s talk about what Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst just said through his actions with signing these players.

Gutekunst said in his press conference Thursday that: “This is Green Bay, Wisconsin. We’re in a win now mode all the time.” But what he did with these moves proves that it’s not all just talk. You do not make these type of signings and push some of the cap hits into the future if you don’t plan to win now. Gutekunst has given his new head coach Matt LaFleur and returning defensive coordinator Mike Pettine some necessary tools to compete this year.

But also, these are career defining moves for Gutekunst. He could have easily played it safe and continued the Ted Thompson tradition of making some moves here and there in free agency, but solely relying on the draft and Aaron Rodgers to win games.

“This is something we had to do to help our team.” That’s what Gutekunst said Thursday. He realizes to take the next step and win a championship he couldn’t play it safe. He has pushed all the poker chips into the middle of the table. He knows his window to win is only a few more years longer. He is going for it.

This also makes the upcoming draft all that more intriguing and mysterious for the Packers. Do they still grab an edge rusher and load up at that position for the first time since, well, who knows when? Do they add a defensive lineman to group with Kenny Clark and Mike Daniels, knowing Daniels is a free agent next year? A safety to pair with Amos? A tight end? Wide receiver? The Packers are not handcuffed with their picks anymore. If they didn’t make a play for an edge rusher in free agency, everyone in the world knew they were going to draft one. They still can, but now they can literally draft the best player on their board if they so choose to. That’s a luxury some teams don’t have, especially a team with two first round draft picks.

I understand there may be some questions surrounding these free agent signings. You may not recognize the names. You may be concerned if they were one year wonders. But here’s why you should be excited Packers fans:

Your general manager is committed to winning at all costs and is willing to gamble. That’s what you have been clamoring for all these years, right?

Side note: Isn’t it kind of ironic that these Ted Thompson disciples that have turned into general managers are actually building their teams in a different way? Look at Gutekunst, John Schneider, John Dorsey, and even Reggie McKenzie when he was with the Raiders. They all value the draft and know you build your teams that way, but they were all more like Ron Wolf in realizing you do need free agency to help out your team as well. Thompson did make some good moves in free agency (Charles Woodson, Ryan Pickett, Julius Peppers), but not nearly as consistent he needed to be.

So the Wisconsin Badger men’s hoops team is back, or will be back, in the NCAA tourney after missing last year. They may be ranked in the top 25, but I think we all know they have no chance to win the National Championship. Ethan Happ is a great college basketball player and Khalil Iverson ended the regular season on a nice stretch of games that Badger fans would have loved to have seen on a more consistent basis throughout his career.

But D’Mitrik Trice and Brad Davison have been disappointing. Trice started off the year so hot that it looked like the Badgers would have a nice inside-out game. And expectations were really high for Davison this year after last season. The tournament is all about guard play and with the Badgers being inconsistent at best, I don’t know how far they can advance in the tourney.

Predicting how far they will go before the brackets are released doesn’t make sense, since I’m a firm believer that its matchup based. But if the predictions are right and the Badgers are around that 4 or 5 seed and it goes all chalk, advancing to the Sweet 16 might be as far as they can get.

That’s it for this week. Baseball season is almost here! Let’s talk some more Brewers next week!

Time to Shine, Brian!

“It is time!”

Packer fans have heard that before. Kevin Greene pleading with Clay Matthews in Super Bowl 45 for him to step up and be leader when Charles Woodson went down with a shoulder injury.

“It is time!”

Perhaps Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst is hearing those immortal words as well. If he’s not, he should, because it is time for the Packers to knock it out of the park in free agency.

Gutekunst told NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport on his podcast that: “I think we’ll be really active, I’d like to be really active. The draft is how we build our team, but our team is ready to move in free agent areas more than we have.”

Gutekunst said similar things last year and the Packers, compared to other years, they were pretty active last year. Not just in signings, but Gutekunst was true to his word about being a part of every conversation. They were close to getting Khalil Mack that some Packers players went to bed thinking he was going to be on the team, only to wake up and see that the Bears swooped in. The Packers tried to get Kyle Fuller from those same Bears by signing him to an offer sheet. It was pretty evident the Bears would keep Fuller, but the Packers actually tried to do something in free agency.

But Gutekunst seems to be saying he wants, or they need, to do more this offseason. He’s putting the pressure squarely on himself by putting it out there in the media that the Packers will be active. You said it, now let’s see it.

It’s entirely possible that Gutekunst is constantly saying this in public as a PR move too. Since 2005 when Ted Thompson came aboard, the Packers were not big players in free agency. Agents knew it. Rival teams knew it. Players knew it. It’s a changing of the guard in Green Bay and Gutekunst is letting everyone know.

So what should his plan be? It’s anyone’s guess. But if I were the general manager of the Packers, this would be my game plan heading into free agency.

Get an Edge Rusher

Reports out of the NFL Combine said agents believed the Packers would invest heavily in a pass rusher and see what else was left in the budget. Good. It’s about time. Mike Pettine priorities pass defense and likes to put his corners in one-on-one situations. Help them out by getting a consistent rush.

The Packers should look to Za’Darius Smith from Baltimore. It sounds like he could get anywhere between $10-12 million a year. He’s coming off of a season where he had 45 tackles, 35 pressures, and 8.5 sacks. The Packers should have some good intel on him, as new Director of Football Operations Milt Hendrickson came over from Baltimore, where he was a longtime and highly respected national scout.

A nice bargain signing might be Shaquil Barrett from Denver. He kind of got lost in the shuffle after the Broncos drafted Bradley Chubb last year to pair with Von Miller. Barrett would be a nice depth addition.

Clay Matthews is a wild card. He’s not an every down pass rusher anymore, but he can still provide something for this defense either has a situational rusher or getting sometime as an inside linebacker. The Packers apparently met with his agent at the combine and it wouldn’t surprise me if the Packers asked Matthews to go see what the market value is for him and to come back to the Packers with those offers. I wouldn’t mind seeing him back on a good deal that won’t hamstring the Packers. No pun intended.

Get Secondary Help

Priority one for me in free agency for the Packers is safety. I believe the number position they need to upgrade is pass rush, but the fact that this free agency class is loaded with safeties, there is absolutely no reason the Packers shouldn’t be able to come out of free agency without a starting safety. Listening to Pettine last year talk about how vital the safety position is in his defense, it puts even more emphasis on grabbing one of these guys.

Landon Collins might get the biggest deal and he would be a nice fit. But he plays better towards the line of scrimmage and within the box. The Packers would need to pair him with a safety that excels in coverage. Maybe a low value signing like Jimmie Ward that has experience playing both safety and corner, the versatility Pettine loves.

Speaking of safety versatility, I would be very intrigued to see Tyrann Mathieu in this defense. He can play on the back end, blitz off the edge, and play the nickel. He’s a swiss army knife for a defense.

Earl Thomas could also be in play as Pettine was with the Seahawks for a year before he came to the Packers.

Speaking of the secondary, I would love to see the Packers bring back Bashaud Breeland. Having the corner depth chart be Jaire Alexander, Kevin King, Josh Jackson, and Breeland would give the Packers a dynamic, playmaking group. But also, give them much needed depth as there is injury questions surrounding King.

Offensive Line Depth

The Packers could look to free agency to improve their depth along the line. Byron Bell might be an option to bring back, but they may also take a look at Quinton Spain, who was with Matt LaFleur last year with the Titans. The Packers could also look to Jamon Brown as they put in a waiver claim on him last November and was with LaFleur when they were with the Rams in 2017.

I think the Packers should stick with Bulaga this year, but also draft his replacement this year. The same strategy they had in place when they drafted Bulaga and he was the primary backup to Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher. Bulaga ended up in the starting lineup and winning a Super Bowl after Tauscher went down with a knee injury.

That’s it. That’s my plan. We’ll see what the Packers decide to do, but I think Gutekunst has the same feeling as many Packers fans feel with this team and free agency.

It. Is. Time. 

MNF, Murray, Harper, and Bucks!

“Dun dun dun duuuuun….dun dun dun dun…”

That’s the best I can do typing out the Monday Night Football theme. Apologies.

ESPN is looking for a new MNF analyst. Again. Jason Witten is going back to football. It was evident that being a first time commentator and having it be on MNF was too much for Witten right away.  I honestly don’t think ESPN is THAT disappointed he’s leaving. They apparently were going to have him heavily involved in draft coverage to help him get confidence, but I think this move is best for both parties.

So who should ESPN get to replace him? MNF is losing its prestige. Its shine is wearing off. They have to get some better matchups, but also, some better talent in the booth. They have to hit it out of the park with this next hire.

ESPN….here’s my list. Use it. It’s your quick guide to fix MNF.

The Dream Pick

Peyton Manning

It ain’t happening, but ESPN should open up the bank for Manning. Manning was courted big time by all the networks in the last couple of years, but has turned down every offer. This past season, he did some media scouting stuff on quarterbacks, so maybe there is a very, very small chance he wants to get into broadcasting. But I see Manning wanting to run a franchise. Regardless, ESPN should be willing to offer everything humanly possible to land the biggest fish out there that would instantly skyrocket them up the ratings.

The Train Wreck But I’m Totally Here For It Pick.

Brett Favre

Favre apparently tried out for the MNF gig last year, but it didn’t go well. Big surprise, right? Favre would be horrible, but he would 100% be entertaining as hell. Whenever Favre says or does anything, everyone is drawn to it. It would be ugly and painful to hear his analysis at times, but dang it would be fun.

The Now You’re Just Giving Up Pick.

Jay Cutler

Please, please don’t let this pick happen. I don’t care if he tested well with FOX two years ago and had a gig before he went to the Dolphins. I don’t care he’s on his wife’s TV show. It’s Jay Cutler. That would be dull as hell.

The We’re Just Settling Pick

Booger McFarland

He’s not a bad analyst, but does he have the name draw for audiences? If anything, people know him more because of the “Booger Mobile”, which isn’t a good thing. If ESPN just wants to settle, this is the pick.

The Back Channel Finding Out Interest Pick

Tony Romo

I don’t know what Romo’s contract says about other networks talking to him or him talking to other networks. But if ESPN can talk to Romo, they would be foolish to not pick up the phone and talk to the hottest name in football announcing right now.

The Legit List

Here are my rankings of who I think they legitimately should target:

Greg Olsen

He’s my number one pick. Ron Rivera has said Olsen has told him he wants to play, but after two seasons of suffering injuries, would he entertain this offer? He has the experience and has done very well in his media roles. But will ESPN be skittish of trying to sway another tight end teetering with retiring or not?

Joe Thomas

Olsen is kind of a long shot, which would make Thomas my 1B choice. He would knock it out of the park. He’s got media experience, he’s smart, and has a sense of humor. ESPN needs to spice up its coverage again and while Thomas may not be a big flashy pick, viewers will instantly gravitate towards him if they haven’t watched or listened to his work before.

Kurt Warner

If you want an analyst that has a ton of TV experience and can breakdown everything about the game, Warner is your guy. He’s smart, polished, and respected. He may be a little dry, but when he talks football, you listen. And you learn.

Nate Burleson

He’s a rising star in the NFL media world. He’s got gigs on NFL Network on Good Morning Football and has done some color work on some games for them. He’s also on CBS as an in-studio analyst. He’s got a ton of experience and would be a solid choice.

Louis Riddick

If ESPN is looking for an in-house candidate, Riddick is clearly their best option. He’s smart, has played the game, and been in the front office. The only question concerning Riddick would be how long he would stay on the job. He has interviewed for a couple of GM openings in the past couple of years.

Moving on to the NFL Combine. The focus is of course on Kyler Murray.

Let’s stop the height and hand size talk. Real talk here. Murray can play IF he’s in the right system. If you’re a team that is interested in drafting Murray, don’t try to fit him into a certain system. Build the system AROUND him and put him in the best position to succeed.  Adapt to him.

If you’re the Cardinals and your new coach Kliff Kingsburry likes Murray that much, I think you have to seriously consider moving Rosen and going with Murray. I think Rosen is going to be a good quarterback in this league. But if the Cardinals believe Murray can run their offense better than Rosen, then they should seriously consider drafting Murray and moving Rosen for perhaps a later first round pick.

Moving to baseball, Bryce Harper finally signed with a team. 13 years, $330 million with the Phillies. No opt outs. No trade clause. Harper says he wants to stay in Philly for the long run and have other players follow him. That’s fine and great right now. But what if they’re not winning in a few seasons? What if the Cubs come calling? Would Harper really say no to playing with the Cubs, Red Sox, or Yankees, the three teams that were reportedly on the top of his list? Doubt it. It’s the right thing to say now, but I don’t totally believe him.

The Milwaukee Bucks may not be getting the most attention across the national landscape, but honestly I think the Bucks are good with that. Let the light shine on the Celtics and 76ers. Let the pressure be on those teams. I think the Bucks prefer it.

But what is the reason that maybe the national media isn’t paying all of their attention to the best team in the NBA? Market size is a reason. But I think a big reason why, is because the Bucks are winning in a way that you’re not supposed to in the NBA. They don’t have a famous “Big 3” or “Big 4” or “Big 5”. They have one, unselfish superstar player and some great role players surrounding him with a great, non-big name head coach. They don’t cause drama and they have a blue collar work ethic to them. They just get the job done, but in a way that isn’t flashy. National media doesn’t want that.

That’s what I have to say for this week!