The Aaron Rodgers trade saga is as unpredictable as it is fascinating.
While Rodgers reportedly wants out of Green Bay, it’s fair to assume the Packers will do everything they can to keep the reigning NFL MVP. Franchise quarterbacks don’t grow on trees, and the 37-year-old remains one of the league’s best despite entering his 17th season.
But what if Rodgers really has no plans to suit up for the Packers in 2021?
The Packers could continue to call his bluff, knowing a boatload of money hangs in the balance. Or perhaps they’ll reach a point where a trade becomes inevitable. After all, Green Bay drafted QB Jordan Love in the first round last year — a possible misstep by the organization, to be clear — and should be able to land a haul in any deal for Rodgers.
A Rodgers trade would completely shake the NFL landscape, cause chaos on the betting market and make for one interesting storyline to follow this season. So, we decided to play matchmaker.
We asked several members of our NESN Digital team to come up with a hypothetical trade involving Rodgers. The responses varied, with multiple landing spots emerging. The results are below.
Mike Cole: QB Aaron Rodgers to Las Vegas Raiders for QB Derek Carr, 2022 first-round pick, 2023 first-round pick and 2024 conditional second-round pick.
The best deal the Packers can make is to find a way to keep Rodgers in Green Bay. That really should be the priority. But if they absolutely, positively have to trade him, send him to the Raiders and see how he likes playing for that outfit. Getting Carr — who played at Fresno State with Packers star wideout Davante Adams — helps ease the pain a little. Carr could keep the seat warm until Jordan Love is ready. Looking long term, trying to poach first-round picks from the Raiders makes sense, too, because even with Rodgers, Vegas still might be the third-best team in the AFC West.
Ricky Doyle: QB Aaron Rodgers to Cleveland Browns for QB Baker Mayfield, 2022 first-round pick, 2023 first-round pick and 2022 fourth-round pick.
Mayfield, the first overall pick in 2018, is 11 years younger than Rodgers. He’s also coming off a strong 2020 in which he led the Browns to an 11-5 regular-season record and a wild-card win over the Pittsburgh Steelers before pushing the Kansas City Chiefs to the limit in the AFC divisional round. Not a bad short- or long-term replacement at QB for Green Bay.
In fact, there’s a case to be made for Cleveland staying the course, but the reality is Rodgers would be a significant upgrade for a Browns roster that already has Super Bowl aspirations. And the three-time MVP would link back up with Alex Van Pelt, now the Browns’ offensive coordinator, whose dismissal from the Packers’ coaching staff after the 2017 season didn’t sit well with Rodgers.
Doug Kyed: QB Aaron Rodgers and CB Eric Stokes to Denver Broncos for CB Patrick Surtain II, 2022 first-round pick, 2023 first-round pick and 2022 second-round pick.
Surtain was selected ninth overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, while Stokes came off the board 20 picks later. A flip of the 2021 first-round picks works out for both teams. The Broncos avoid giving up a third future first-round pick and still get their young cornerback. The Packers receive a tangible asset they can use and groom this season for some immediate gratification.
Adam London: QB Aaron Rodgers and 2022 fourth-round pick to New Orleans Saints for QB Jameis Winston, 2022 first-round pick, 2023 first-round pick and 2024 first-round pick.
New Orleans’ reported attempt to trade up for Mac Jones tells you the Saints aren’t overly comfortable with their quarterback situation. These feelings would be completely reversed upon the arrival of Rodgers, who could make magic with Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara. One has to imagine Rodgers would enjoy working with a football mind like Sean Payton, too. The Packers, meanwhile, can hope for a Winston resurrection while Jordan Love develops into a capable starter.
Sean McGuire: QB Aaron Rodgers to Las Vegas Raiders for QB Derek Carr, WR Henry Ruggs III and two first-round picks.
The Raiders land Rodgers to form an offensive trio with tight end Darren Waller and running back Josh Jacobs, while the Packers are granted a very good return considering they seem to have leverage slipping away by the day. Carr comes into Green Bay for the short term to give Jordan Love another year or two — Carr is under contract through 2022 — to develop. The Packers also benefit from pairing Davante Adams with a promising young wideout in Ruggs and receive a pair of future first-round picks. Oh yeah, and Rodgers goes to the AFC, where Green Bay wouldn’t have to worry about him.
Logan Mullen: QB Aaron Rodgers to Dallas Cowboys for QB Dak Prescott.
That’s right, a 1-for-1, baby! This obviously (right?) would never happen, but Jerry Jones for some reason has always seemed to have a little bit of hesitancy around Prescott. Perhaps if given the opportunity, Jones would swap quarterbacks at the expense of the future if he got a few more MVP-caliber years, and, thus, Super Bowl(s) out of Rodgers. The Packers’ return wouldn’t be a draft pick and high-end talent haul like some other teams might provide, but Prescott would stabilize their quarterback situation for years to come, perhaps even allowing them to trade Jordan Love for another offensive weapon.