What’s next for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers?
Rodgers appeared on “SportsCenter” with Kenny Mayne on Monday, but he did not directly answer whether he wanted to be traded. Instead, he offered support for 2020 first-round pick Jordan Love while not mentioning general manager Brian Gutekunst.
“With my situation, it’s never been about the draft pick,” Rodgers said on “SportsCenter.” “Picking Jordan, I love Jordan. He’s a great kid. A lot of fun to work together. Love my coaching staff, love my teammates, love my fan base in Green Bay. Incredible 16 years. It’s just kind of about a philosophy, and maybe forgetting that it is about the people that make the thing go. It’s about character, it’s about culture. It’s about doing things the right way.”
June 1 is the next date to circle on the calendar. That is when the trade scenarios come into play.
Sporting News looks at those potential scenarios for Rodgers and the Packers:
Why June 1 is an important date for Aaron Rodgers’ future
That’s when it would make more financial sense for the Packers to trade the three-time MVP with a post-June 1 transaction. A post-June 2 trade would reduce the 2021 cap charge to $14.3 million and push the balance of $17.2 million back to 2022. This is why Green Bay did not entertain trade offers during the 2021 NFL Draft.
1. Rodgers is traded before training camp
This is the scenario that heated up on the first night of the 2021 NFL Draft. Denver and Las Vegas have been the most-rumored potential landing spots, and that makes more sense then keeping Rodgers in the NFC.
It’s impossible for the Packers to get equal value in return. Remember, the Packers traded Brett Favre to the Jets for a fourth-round pick in 2008. Green Bay would be left with Love, Blake Bortles and Kurt Benkert on the roster at that point; not to mention that cap charge that comes with trading Rodgers — who is under contract through 2023.
Denver makes the most sense in a trade. Broncos president John Elway made it work with Peyton Manning. He could do the same with Rodgers. Of the six scenarios we have, this is the second-most logical one.
2. Jordan Love is traded
This would be a curveball, but it would be a way to ensure Rodgers that the Packers want him to finish his career with the franchise.
There are trade rumors involving Atlanta receiver Julio Jones, and perhaps Green Bay could deal Love and picks to the Falcons for the star receiver. It’s still a financial stretch at best for the cap-challenged Packers, but it would be Gutekunst’s way of showing Rodgers that the franchise will give him the necessary help to make a Super Bowl run.
Given Love hasn’t taken a snap, this would be the year to do it instead of having him sit on the bench for a second season. Remember, Rodgers sat behind Favre for three years. Green Bay can’t do that circus again. Love would have to be the starter by Year 3.
3. Rodgers retires
Hey, Brett Favre managed to retire three times — the first coming on March 4, 2008. Favre returned, of course, before being traded to the New York Jets that season. Favre was 39 years old at the time and had led the Packers to the NFC championship game the previous season.
Rodgers, however, is 37 and proved in 2020 that he can still play at a MVP level. Rodgers could retire — but that would appear to be a move made out of spite against the Packers front office. Even if Rodgers does take this bold step, it is difficult to believe his playing days would be over.
4. Rodgers holds out in 2021
This would be the move Carson Palmer pulled in Cincinnati after a 4-12 season in 2010. Palmer asked for a trade in January before an offseason lockout, but Bengals owner Mike Brown did not grant that wish in July.
The Bengals went 6-2 with Andy Dalton at quarterback then traded Palmer to Oakland on Oct. 18, 2011.
If this same scenario unfolds in Green Bay in 2021, then it would be much-more publicized and unsavory for both sides. The Packers will be forced to go all in on Jordan Love and be shredded for not giving Rodgers his wish. Rodgers, meanwhile, would be ripped too. These aren’t the 4-12 Bengals. This is a roster that reached the NFC championship the last two seasons.
This would be a worst-case scenario for both, and it would cost Gutekunst his job within a year.
5. Rodgers plays one more year in Green Bay
This was the scenario SN painted after the loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season. It remains the most-logical scenario from a financial standpoint for Green Bay, and it would give the 2021 season a “Last Dance” feel to it.
That’s what former Bulls GM Jerry Krause — who Rodgers reportedly compared Gutekunst to in a team chat — did in Chicago in 1997-98. Krause held that job through 2003.
Gutekunst did keep the majority of last year’s roster in house with the exception of center Cory Linsley, and the Packers had a solid draft that brought in help with Georgia cornerback Eric Stokes, Ohio State center Josh Myers and Clemson receiver Amari Rodgers.
Gutekunst and Rodgers could partially mend the fence before training camp, and that would set up what could be a break-through season to the Super Bowl or a radioactive mess that spills into 2022. Either way, unless there is an extension or sensible restructure for Rodgers, this feels like his last season with the Packers. Gutekunst keeps his job, and the Love era begins in 2022.
6. Rodgers finishes career with Packers
It would take a lot at this point. If Rodgers retires with Green Bay, then that would more than likely mean that Love and Gutekunst would not be with the organization. It’s a highly-unlikely scenario that all three would be in Green Bay together for more than two years.
If Gutekunst is fired before Rodgers leaves, then that would set an interesting precedent for future quarterback-management disputes. The GM rarely — if ever — is fired when these disputes happen.
If Love is traded, then the Packers still run the risk of losing Rodgers. An extension would have to be agreed on that all but guarantees Rodgers stays in Green Bay.
Basically, Gutekunst and Rodgers would have to mend a very-public feud to make that happen, and that also rarely if ever happens.