Each Wednesday, Weston Hodkiewicz provides an inside look at the Green Bay Packers in his Walkthrough blog.
In many ways, the 2016 NFL season begins this week when most of the league’s coaches, personnel departments and general managers gather for the annual scouting combine in Indianapolis.
Hundreds of players will be evaluated, while most of the league’s head coaches and general managers set the agenda for their franchise’s upcoming season. That list includes Packers general manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy, who will meet the media Thursday at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. Central Time, respectively.
The McCarthy-Thompson era is one of the NFL’s oldest pairings. A decade in one spot can result in a lot of changing scenery elsewhere in the NFL and 2016 will be no exception. While the Packers have their usual matchups with Mike Zimmer’s Vikings and John Fox’s Bears, there are a few new interesting battles on the horizon.
The Packers will face three teams with new head coaches next season, including the New York Giants with former Packers assistant Ben McAdoo and the Philadelphia Eagles with former Packers backup quarterback Doug Pederson.
McAdoo, a Packers assistant from 2006-13, takes over for another former Green Bay assistant, Tom Coughlin (1986-87), in New York. He was New York's offensive coordinator the past two seasons. Pederson, who was Brett Favre's backup for seven seasons, was tapped to lead the Eagles’ reclamation after Chip Kelly’s ousting last month. Both coaches are scheduled to speak at the combine Wednesday.
The only other new coach the Packers will face next season is Mike Mularkey, who was promoted to Tennessee’s head coach. He went 2-7 as the Titans’ intern coach last season after the firing of Ken Whisenhunt.
Coincidentally, the Packers have the easiest schedule of any of the NFL’s 32 teams next season despite only three of their 13 opponents for the 2016 regular season making a change at head coach this offseason.
The New York Times reported Tuesday that the NFL salary cap likely will rise even more next season after the league was ordered this week to return more than $100 million to the revenue pool it shares with its players.
That could result in an additional $1.5-2 million in cap space per team this offseason, according to the story and several other national reports. The Packers, who have 17 free agents this offseason, were sitting around $20 million in room after recently agreeing to a three-year contract with defensive lineman Letroy Guion.