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Friday Packers Musings: McCarthy and Rodgers remain civil in their separation

Despite their apparent differences of opinion, neither party took public shots at the other in post-firing interviews.

Minnesota Vikings v Green Bay Packers Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Curiosity was stirred this week when ESPN’s Rob Demovsky reported a question-and-answer story was being released about his recent sit-down with Mike McCarthy, the first since his firing from the Green Bay Packers. Would the former coach blast Aaron Rodgers? Would he criticize Mark Murphy and Brian Gutekunst? What in the world is he doing now that he has a year to himself?

I’ll let Rob tell his story, but one thing McCarthy did not do was personally attack Rodgers and spark further controversy. But it is interesting that the two parties had each other’s backs as much as possible in their divorce, even in light of Thursday’s explosive story from Tyler Dunne at Bleacher Report. In the middle of draft observations, the Rodgers-McCarthy relationship headlines my Friday musings.

Tension or not, both Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers took the high road in their interviews in the aftermath of McCarthy’s firing.

We may never know just how much disagreement or animosity there was between McCarthy and Rodgers during the final years of their partnership. There was certainly plenty of speculation about it and hints of frustration particularly in Rodgers’ post-game interviews over the past two years. But it was telling of the respect each highly-successful individual had for the other in the way they handled questions about the other after McCarthy was let go.

Shutting down the tension rumors in the wake of the firing, Rodgers noted the “mutual respect and communication” the two parties had in their memorable runs and their “friendship” off the field. Likewise, McCarthy used the words “rewarding,” “fun,” and “challenging” to describe what it was like to coach Rodgers in his recent sit-down with ESPN. Although McCarthy did say that some things “stay on the sidelines” and that there are going to be frustrating times in any long-term relationship, he gave little inclination that there was any feud between him and his quarterback. In fact, he seemed to relish the opportunity to get to know Rodgers personally.

PR move or not, Rodgers and McCarthy refrained from criticizing the other after their separation. Unless something changes down the road, the two handled their disagreements with relative professionalism (and some passive aggression).

Will last year’s increase in centers in the top 50 picks reoccur and help Green Bay?

The Packers are in a position where center is not a priority. Starter Corey Linsley has two years remaining on the contract extension he signed in 2017 and Lucas Patrick has shown signs of being a capable fill-in if needed. While offensive tackle and even guard could be addressed in the first two days of the draft, center is not likely.

However, that could be a benefit to the Packers, who own three selections in the top 44 picks. In 2018, three centers were selected in that range - Frank Ragnow (20th), Billy Price (21st), and James Daniels (39th). While Daniels was a name mentioned prior to the draft as a potential first-round pick, Ragnow and Price went much higher than the national media predicted. For a team like the Packers, a run on centers, much like quarterbacks, would help keep talented prospects at other positions on the board longer.

The 2019 NFL Draft could offer Green Bay that chance. Garrett Bradbury of NC State has been a popular first-round name in mock drafts since the NFL Combine, but Mississippi State’s Elgton Jenkins and Texas A&M’s Erik McCoy could enter the top-50 parade as well. If that happens, it would be a win for the Packers.

Can Green Bay capitalize on its two-trade, first-round maneuvering in the 2018 NFL Draft?

Essentially, the Packers traded a third-round pick in the 2018 draft for a chance to cash in with a first-round pick in 2019. Of course, Green Bay swapped first-round selections with New Orleans to additionally gain the Saints’ first selection in 2019. But often forgotten is that the Packers sacrificed a third-round pick to move up with Seattle and get their man in Jaire Alexander.

On the surface level, that swap would be appear to be a bargain, even if it is the 30th overall selection. But the opportunity cost of gaining a first-round lottery ticket was a potential immediate contributor last season. Although the Packers ultimately traded back into the third round to take Oren Burks, Green Bay gave up an early-round prospect in 2018. Now, it’s up to Brian Gutekunst and company to identify not just a contributor, but a high-ceiling impact player to make it worth the wait.