In yet another sign that not all is well in Titletown despite back-to-back NFC Championship Game appearances, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers publicly declared that he may well play for another team before his career is finished.
During an interview with ESPN’s Kenny Mayne, Rodgers didn’t shy away from questions about his future. Below is a key excerpt from the SportsCenter segment, which will air in full in the coming days:
The Packers shocked everyone in the 2020 NFL Draft when they traded up in the first round to select Rodgers’ successor, Jordan Love. All Rodgers did was proceed to lead Green Bay to another 13-3 record and win NFL MVP honors.
After a mostly underwhelming free agency period, it’s no surprise Rodgers is continuing to doubt the direction of the organization.
Packers have muddled vision for Aaron Rodgers and the team’s future
Why would you draft Rodgers’ replacement when he’s still arguably the best QB in the game? And why spend a second-round pick on a running back in AJ Dillon, when Aaron Jones is a legitimate playmaker who you just signed to a four-year contract extension?
Sounds confusing. That’s because it is. Packers GM Brian Gutekunst and the personnel department have bought a lot of goodwill by lucking into Brett Favre and Rodgers as their two franchise quarterbacks. Franchises aren’t supposed to get that lucky, yet Green Bay has.
Despite having two legendary, all-time great field generals since 1992, the Pack have a grand total of two Super Bowl wins to show for it.
You can’t really blame Favre or Rodgers for it, yet quarterbacks always take the brunt of the criticism. Rodgers “only” has one Super Bowl. It wouldn’t look so bad if Tom Brady hadn’t won seven, or if Patrick Mahomes hadn’t already won the same amount as Rodgers in his second season as an NFL starter.
But that’s the reality. A big reason why is Green Bay’s refusal to spend big in free agency, adamantly sticking to a perpetual strategy of building through the draft. It’s a cost-effective operation, but one that puts all the onus on the quarterback to carry the team.
The latest twist between Rodgers and the Packers involved their strange refusal to restructure his contract, which would’ve freed up more salary cap space to spend on free agents. CEO Mark Murphy couldn’t give a straight answer as to why this wasn’t done, so who knows if Rodgers wouldn’t budge, or the front office just kept being petty and ultra-conservative with their spending?
When Aaron Rodgers could realistically leave Green Bay
Aaron Rodgers will turn 38 in December. While it looks like he still has plenty of juice left to play many more seasons, he does have a rather extensive injury history, and he probably has, at most, a five-year window to win a second championship.
Let’s take a look at Over the Cap’s calculator and the salary cap numbers for a Rodgers trade and what it’d look like depending on when it happens:
- Traded pre-June 1, 2021: Packers eat $31.56 million in dead cap, save $5.646 million
- Traded post-June 1 in 2021/2022: Packers eat $14.35 million in dead cap, save $22.85 million/$25.5 million
- Traded pre-June 1 in 2022: Packers eat $17.2 million in dead cap, save $22.65 million
- Traded in 2023: Packers eat $2.85 million in dead cap, save $25.5 million
Given that the Packers will eat a fair amount of money either way if they trade Rodgers within the next two years — which they absolutely should to take advantage of Love being on a rookie contract — any suitor won’t have to pay out Rodgers’ full salary.
Any team in their right mind who’d need a QB would throw a ton of compensation at Green Bay, even if it meant Rodgers only had a couple of good seasons left. That is, presuming he maintains the level of play he showed in 2020, when he put up 4,299 passing yards with 48 touchdown passes, only five interceptions and a 121.5 passer rating.
So, since Rodgers just won MVP and most teams lacking a legitimate quarterback are slated to take one near the top of the 2021 NFL Draft, expect the Packers to keep him for this season. That doesn’t mean the ship is going to sail smoothly, but fans would be outraged if their QB who just led them to within one win of the Super Bowl twice in a row got abruptly traded away.
Still, it looks likely to happen at some point and there will be no shortage of suitors. It would make for quite an interesting offseason if and when it does happen.