After an offseason full of drama, this should have been the last dance for Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. Or maybe we just hoped it would be.
Rodgers agreed to come back to the Packers for one more season with a verbal agreement in place that if Rodgers still wanted to depart Green Bay after the year was up, the Packers would work with the future Hall of Fame quarterback to find a new place for him to play in 2022.
Now, it seems like things have improved in Green Bay between Rodgers and the front office. Thus opening the possibility for a long-term reconciliation between the two sides:
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 2, 2022
This would be terrible news for the rest of the NFC North if it came to fruition. Rodgers has annihilated the division for years, and 2021 has been no different (Rodgers has thrown to the tune of a 36-0 TD-INT ratio the past two seasons against the Vikings, Lions, and Bears. Oh my!).
If things have gotten better between Rodgers and the Packers front office this season, and the two sides win a Super Bowl together this year, I find it hard to imagine Rodgers leaving Green Bay. And remember, the Packers locked up the top seed in the NFC, which means the path to the Super Bowl now runs through Green Bay.
Yes, Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers pose a legitimate threat, but the losses of Antonio Brown and Chris Godwin the past two weeks don’t bode well for their chances. Something something … never bet against Tom Brady.
Now, with all that said, if the Packers don’t win the Super Bowl, all bets are off. It’s a cute story now that the two sides have mended fences and are getting along while the Packers are riding high. But if they fall short of the ultimate goal — again — then I’m not so sure that everything will be roses when the offseason begins.
And while Rodgers’ future is very much in his hands, superstar wide receiver Davante Adams can’t say the same.
The soon-to-be free agent is likely on his way to playing the 2022 season on the Franchise Tag, per NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport. According to Rapoport, the Packers and Adams haven’t discussed an extension since talks broke off in late July. Adams, 29, has 232 catches, 2,872 yards, and 29 touchdowns in 29 games over the last two seasons. He just broke his own receptions record in Green Bay and should get PAID handsomely for his efforts. So while he’s right in his desire to be the game’s top-paid wide receiver, with the Franchise Tag already under consideration, it’s a safe bet Adams will be back in Green Bay in 2022.
For what it’s worth, it’s not inconceivable that the Packers could tag Adams to start the offseason. The Franchise Tag will pay Adams roughly $20 million next season. But it also requires the Packers to shed salary to make that number work in their tight 2022 salary cap projection. Over the Cap has Green Bay about $40 million over the projected cap in 2022. And then after the dust settles and cap space clears, re-engage in long-term discussions with the game’s top wide receiver. That would be an easier chat if Rodgers returns. Especially with the way he talks about his top target:
Is Davante Adams always open in your eyes??
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) January 4, 2022
For what it’s worth, Green Bay can create space in a variety of ways. One way would be to convert a portion of a player’s base salary to a signing bonus. Doing so allows the team to spread the hit out over the life of the contract. That would be more tenable for teams instead of absorbing it in one season. We’ve seen the Bears do this with players such as Khalil Mack, Cody Whitehair, Eddie Jackson, and others.
Whether it’s on the Tag or an extension, it seems almost certain Adams will return to Green Bay next season. Taking the game’s top receiver off the market immediately would stink for receiver-needy teams. You know … like the Bears?
It also seems like the Packers, no matter this year’s outcome, are determined to run it back with their two superstars in 2022. Now that Rodgers and Brian Gutekunst seem to be playing nice, it looks like a real possibility that the NFC North hasn’t seen the end of the Rodgers era in Green Bay.