What exactly does Aaron Rodgers want? And how does he think he’ll get it?
If the answer to the first question is simply to no longer be the Green Bay Packers’ quarterback, he probably needs a better strategy to answer the second one.
Rodgers and/or his camp, via ESPN’s Adam Schefter, shook the foundation of the NFL on Thursday when it was reported literal hours before Round 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft that he had it up to here with the Packers. Per Schefter, Rodgers is disgruntled with the Green Bay front office and wants out. In the minutes and hours that followed, we learned more about the reported rift between the reigning MVP and the only franchise for which he’s ever played.
Rodgers’ frustration with the Packers is understandable. He probably believes they haven’t done enough to support him in the supposed twilight of his career. Trading up to draft quarterback Jordan Love last year — reportedly without telling Rodgers — was probably the last straw. Rodgers’ vindictive side finally reached a breaking point Thursday as trade rumors swirled.
But why now? Why did Rodgers choose to make his tantrum public just hours before the draft? If he really wants out of Green Bay, he didn’t really pick the right time to try and force their hand.
Because what’s the end game here? Does he actually want to be traded? If so, he should have tried to blow things up earlier and allow the Packers at least a chance to determine his market. There was talk about a potential swap with the Denver Broncos. That certainly could still happen, but rushing to unload the face of your franchise while also weighing your draft day options isn’t really conducive to success.
Maybe Rodgers wants a new contract. He has been paid all his guaranteed money and is now left hanging in the wind. The Packers seemingly hold the cards, and he knows that, especially with Love waiting in the wings.
NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport believes this is rooted in a contract dispute, although that certainly feels more like spin from the Packers than anything else. Rodgers went nuclear Thursday, but the Packers are under no obligation to trade him. He’s under contract. As far as they’re concerned, he can play for them in 2021, or he can retire. That’s pretty black and white. Maybe the Packers ultimately decide to amend the contract — it’s reportedly been discussed — and perhaps that fixes everything. Maybe trading Love will do the trick. But again, Green Bay is under no actual obligation to make him happy.
It’s also possible Rodgers believes he has a better chance to win elsewhere. Be that as it may, this round of quarterback musical chairs is almost over. He’s not going to the 49ers; they just drafted their QB of the future. The Rams — after reportedly checking in — traded for Matthew Stafford a while back. Really, the only viable options are Las Vegas and Denver. And for all of the supposed roster-building slights over the years, the Packers still present Rodgers with the best chance to win his second Super Bowl. No matter how much he wants to grovel, Green Bay — with an elite offensive line, Davante Adams, Aaron Jones and head coach Matt LaFleur — present a better opportunity than the Raiders or Broncos, especially when you consider he’d have to learn a new system … “freedom” be damned.
This is a team, of course, that went 13-3 a year ago and came within one win of the Super Bowl. It’s worth wondering how different this conversation might be had Rodgers actually taken advantage of even just one of Tom Brady’s three second-half interceptions in the NFC Championship Game.
The whole thing is just weird. The Packers insist they’re not trading Rodgers (at least not this year), and No. 12 spending 2021 in Wisconsin still seems like the most likely option. But one thing is clear after Thursday’s blow-up: All parties have a lot of work to do in order to smooth things over.