Coming right out of an NFC Championship loss at age 37, you wouldn’t expect a quarterback to sound chipper or even forward-looking. Still, though taking in Aaron Rodgers’ post-game interview sure seemed to feel like it sounded like someone readying himself to possibly say goodbye to Green Bay.
Aaron Rodgers fully sounded like someone who doesn't know if he'll be the QB here next season.
— Matt Schneidman (@mattschneidman) January 25, 2021
Aaron Rodgers sure sounded like a guy saying goodbye.
— Jason Wilde (@jasonjwilde) January 25, 2021
Aaron Rodgers after the game: “A lot of guys futures, they’re uncertain, myself included. … Just gonna have to take some time away and clear my head and kind of see what's going on with everything." pic.twitter.com/3GlzPU9EsZ
— Sporting News (@sportingnews) January 25, 2021
For now, I’m still gonna say that’s more about it being right after a very important, very disappointing loss, and a candid acknowledgement that nothing is certain. But we can’t ignore that Rodgers has, in recent weeks, chosen to leave his future up in the air, and the Packers did use a first round pick on Jordan Love last year.
Maybe Rodgers wants to be the latest quarterback to hit the carousel this offseason? Maybe he sees his later days arriving and wants a say in where he finishes his career, if it’s going to be outside of Green Bay? Adam Schefter spoke to that possibility this morning, indicating that, sure, Rodgers could use his leverage to decide where the Packers have to trade him:
Aaron Rodgers’ future is not as much in the Packers’ hands as much as some think, even if he is contractually tied to Green Bay for the next three seasons. It’s just the opposite – Rodgers controls his own future, if he wants and if he is willing. pic.twitter.com/5dzMeID7Ao
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 25, 2021
Even if you set aside the fact that Rodgers is a superstar still capable of dominating while the Packers are clearly very well-set-up, there are financial reasons to doubt the Packers would be particularly interested in a trade right now. Specifically, dealing Rodgers right now would leave the Packers with a $31 million(!) cap hit for 2021. I mean, I guess you could argue that it still saves them about $6 million to deploy elsewhere on the roster (assuming Love was the starter), but … that ain’t why you’d do it. Let’s be clear.
Still, as PFT points out, that cap charge issue might not be a TOTAL deal-breaker if the timing was right:
The fact most overlooked by the THIRTY-ONE MILLION CAP HIT! crowd is this: The Packers could keep the cap charge at $14.352 million for 2021 by trading Rodgers after June 1.
Here’s where the naysayers would say that the Packers and Rodgers’ new team would never wait that long to do the deal. But why not? If the Packers would choose to carry $37.572 million under Rodgers’ name from March 17 until June 2 in order to ultimately save $23.22 million in 2021 cap space, a June 2 trade becomes extremely viable. And with the ongoing pandemic likely making the on-field offseason program a nullity for a second straight year, why wouldn’t a team that wants Rodgers agree to do a tentative trade in, for example, March but then agree to delay the execution of the deal until June 2?
Nothing would prevent that. The practice of teams striking tentative trades before the start of the league year has become routine. Reaching a deal with the express understanding that it would become finalized on June 2 would be no different.
That strikes me as all correct, but practically difficult to actually execute. There would have to be a great deal of trust involved, *AND* the Packers would have to not want to acquire 2021 Draft capital in the deal, since it wouldn’t actually take place until June. With so many quarterback options hitting the market this year, that’s a lot of trust, man. A lot.
But, hey, it’s Aaron Rodgers. If you’re the Rams or the 49ers and you can just swap out your current eh guy for Rodgers for the next few years at least, you do it. The issue almost certainly won’t be a lack of teams willing to do whatever it takes to make the deal happen. It’ll be whether the Packers are willing, and whether Rodgers actually wants to move on.
For now, put Rodgers in the “maybe available” pile, together with guys like Dak Prescott and Matt Ryan and Jimmy Garoppolo and Derek Carr. Then you’ve also got the “definitely available” group of Matthew Stafford and Deshaun Watson and Sam Darnold. You might even see the Dolphins moving on from Tua Tagovailoa if they want try someone else in the draft or if they go for Watson.
The point here is less about which of those guys – if any – the Bears could go after (to say nothing of the draft and modest arms in free agency), and more to generally comment that Rodgers actually hitting the market would make a potentially really interesting trade market even more interesting. I’ll root for it for obvious reasons.