Aaron Rodgers will play his last game with the Green Bay Packers this Sunday. However, he has stated that he wishes to retire as a member of the team. Rodgers, 28, is in the final year of his contract. He has led the Packers to the playoffs in each of the last six seasons, and won the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award in 2011.
Last week, the Denver Broncos finally let go of the past in hopes to move forward, trading their starting quarterback for a fourth-round draft pick. On paper, the move was a pretty good deal, with future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers coming to the Mile High City. However, the move wasn’t without its risks.
Is this realistic?
play 1:04 Dan Orlovsky is looking at Aaron Rodgers’ options now that the QB is standing firm about his desire not to return to Green Bay. It’s worth noting that Packers coach Matt Lafleur, general manager Brian Gutekunst and team president Mark Murphy have publicly stated they have no intention of trading Rodgers. But June is the first time the Packers can officially respond to Rogers’ displeasure. If they wanted, they could fine Rodgers for missing the mandatory training session, a three-day mini-camp. According to the union’s collective bargaining agreement, those fines can be as high as $93,085 if Rodgers misses all three days. If the Packers decide to fine Rodgers, it will likely make the quarterback even angrier. Rodgers could also be fined $50,000 a day if he misses time during training camp, and if Rodgers retires, the Packers could reclaim nearly $30 million from him. As for the Broncos, general manager George Paton didn’t even mention Rodgers’ name shortly after the first round of the draft. When Paton was asked about the hype surrounding Rodgers that night, he switched to the fact that the team selected cornerback Pat Surtein II at no. 9. Why? Because Rodgers is under contract to the Packers, teams cannot pursue him or openly comment on him without risking fines or the loss of a draft pick. But the Broncos and San Francisco 49ers (Niners general manager John Lynch confirmed this after the draft) inquired – briefly – about Rodgers’ availability, as Schefter reported during draft weekend. Both were quickly back on their feet, and the 49ers selected quarterback Trey Lance at No. 3 shortly after they made that pick. The Broncos chose Surtain over Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields or Alabama’s Mack Jones. So even though Surtin was the Broncos’ best defensive lineman in the draft and close to the top 5 overall pick according to Paton, this could be a sign that the Broncos have left the door open for the quarterback.
Assemblies and parts for professionals
play 1:58 Louis Riddick says Aaron Rodgers will eventually go somewhere else and end his career away from Green Bay. Leaving aside the question of whether the Packers will consider a trade at all this year, there is the issue of available space and draft capital needed to make a deal. Many people in the league have said when asked in recent weeks that acquiring Rodgers would require two first-round picks, a second-round pick and either additional players or additional picks. The problem for Green Bay is that if Rodgers plays as expected, those first round picks are worth less. Most teams start 20-24 evaluations of first round players each year. Any pick after 25 – or so – in the first round is often not a prospect that is valued in the first round. Paton, who is in the first year of a six-year contract, has always expressed a desire to acquire more picks each year – and not give them away. He wants more darts, as he says. Giving up so many top players gives peace of mind to a team that has failed to make the playoffs for five seasons in a row. Having a team talented enough to make Rodgers’ purchase worthwhile is the foundation of everything. That’s what Elway has accomplished as general manager since Manning was signed in 2012. Middle linebacker Vaughn Miller was a first-round selection the year before, and the Broncos pulled the checkbook wide open in the 2014 free-agent period, which included cornerback Aqib Talib, running back DeMarcus Ware, receiver Emmanuel Sanders and running back T.J. Ward. Rodgers has a spending cap of $37.202 million this season, $39.852 million in 2022 and $28.352 million in 2023. The Broncos don’t have enough room to contract Rodgers this year – they’re about $13 million short, not including money to replace injured players. There is also the issue of timing. Manning signed in March 2012 and lived in the Broncos’ base for a few weeks to help shape the game plan. Even when the Broncos started 1-2 and finished 2-3, and before the 11-game winning streak, there were questions about whether it would all work out. The quarterback who arrives in June or July will have a tougher time. Even a player of Rodgers’ calibre is likely to struggle in 2021.
play 1:20 Ryan Clark is proving that the arrival of Aaron Rodgers will make the Broncos the biggest threat to the Chiefs in the AFC. Is a Broncos trade for Aaron Rodgers a possibility? Yes, of course. Did the Packers give any indication that this would happen? No. Have the Broncos ever done anything like this before? Yes, and there are two gold coats to prove it. And do the Broncos really have much of a stake in this? We only had to call in April to find out. So logic says that if the Packers were taking calls, they would have made one. Because if the Packers really don’t want to trade Rodgers this year, it doesn’t matter how many scenarios are laid out for the Broncos or someone else to take him over. But yes, Shanahan was right all along. Welcome to June.