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Cheese Curds, 4/7: NFL Draft goes virtual, workout bonuses TBD, Kirksey is ready

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The Packers were lucky to get their free agent signings done early, before COVID-19 shut down travel. Now it’s official that teams will be drafting from home, and the offseason program has some kinks to work out.

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NFL: SEP 16 Browns at Jets Photo by Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

COVID-19 is affecting every facet of life, with social distancing recommendations in place until at least April 30th in the United States. With the NFL in its offseason, the biggest changes for the league to this point were the cancellation of college Pro Days and the inability of teams to bring in free agents for formal visits and physicals after the start of the new league year.

The Green Bay Packers, however, got a couple of lucky breaks on that final item. By targeting a few players who were released by their former teams, the Packers were able to bring them in for physicals and meetings before travel was shut down, getting ink to paper without delay. Christian Kirksey and Rick Wagner aren’t the superstar signings that the team made last year, but the timing of those deals worked out nicely for them and for the team.

Moving forward, however, the league faces some difficult challenges as it moves into the next phase of the offseason. The NFL Draft will officially be a fully virtual event, with league officials, players, and most importantly front offices all working remotely. This means that the odds of seeing Brian Gutekunst’s dog during a late Thursday night press conference just spiked exponentially, so that should be a fun twist.

After that, the entire offseason workout program is in question, and the Packers have a particular interest in how the league and the players union will work out the details of workout bonuses. After all, the Packers use those bonuses in their free agent contracts more than almost any other team in the NFL, so it will be critical for the team and its players to know what is expected of each side to ensure that those bonuses get paid out.

Here’s the news for this Tuesday morning.

NFL draft 2020 to be 'fully virtual' with coaches, GMs working at home | USA Today
The commissioner issued a statement on Monday saying that all teams must find a way to work from home during the draft, and that no in-person war rooms will be allowed. Thankfully, the Packers have a fairly young, high-tech front office, so this should impact them less than some other teams.

NFL players for all 32 teams who would be hurt most by lost offseason | ESPN
The pick here for the Packers is Aaron Rodgers. It's not because he needs the physical reps, but rather the time working with Matt LaFleur to strengthen his understanding of the offense heading into year two. But isn't that something that the two can work on remotely?

Workout Bonuses in Limbo Amid Pandemic | SI.com
The Packers have lots of workout bonuses in their players' contracts, with six players getting a half a million dollars or more under that provision and another seven more at or over $250k. This year, that might be triggered solely by attendance at virtual meetings rather than the normal approach of working out at the team facilities.

Green Bay Packers' Christian Kirksey feels ‘blessed’ to get deal done before coronavirus restrictions hit | Packersnews.com
Kirksey was lucky to get his release from Cleveland in time to make a few free agent visits and take physicals, with the same going for Rick Wagner. That allowed the two players to sign with the Packers, while many other free agents had to wait to finalize their agreements.

Ten updated and reasonable predictions for the Packers’ 2020 season – The Athletic
Among the picks here from Matt Schneidman: Kirksey starts all 16 games, Devin Funchess catches six touchdowns, and the Packers trade UP from 30 instead of moving back.

Bored? Try Florida social distancing neighborhood scavenger hunt bingo | Tampa Bay Times
Coronavirus means lots of walks around your home, and if that home is in Florida you're sure to find some ridiculous stuff in your neighborhood. The funniest part about this, however, is that the TB Times put out a Bingo board that's 4x5. Do they not know how Bingo works?


Finally, if you are out voting in Wisconsin today, please stay safe and take all the necessary precautions amid the coronavirus pandemic. Good luck to you all.