Will he or won’t he? That might as well be the unofficial mantra of the combined Brett Favre-Aaron Rodgers era in Green Bay. Packers fans are routinely kept on their toes, huh?
Rodgers may make his decision on Tuesday on where he’d like to play in 2022, at least that’s what the rumblings are saying this time.
The Pat McAfee Show will likely get the live scoop. Rodgers is known for occasionally spending his Tuesdays on that very show. Many thought that Rodgers wouldn’t make a decision until he gets some clarity on Davante Adams’ future. Well, those two things lining up in a big way. Tuesday, March 8th is when teams need to make their decision about franchise tagging players. If he doesn’t make his decision now, it’s hard to see when he will.
Others have said that he won’t be on Pat’s show. Who knows, honestly.
How do we feel about all of this? Well, both of these things are true:
- We’re over this saga. We find it boring and he should make his decision public so we, the organization and the fans, can all move on. Yes, we understand he’s using his leverage.
- Aaron Rodgers is one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. He gives the Packers their only legitimate chance to win a Super Bowl this upcoming season. We want to watch this team win another Super Bowl. It would be swell if it happened with him leading the team.
OK, with that out of the way, let’s analyze why we think the Packers are in a win-win situation at quarterback — despite the many unknowns.
Rodgers isn’t going to retire. It seems abundantly clear that he’s deciding between coming back to the Packers or asking for a trade to a few interested teams. Will those teams be able to offer enough to make it worth it for the Packers? Maybe. This is one of those ‘unknowns’ we were referencing.
But at a certain point it doesn’t matter. If he really wants to leave, he’s going to leave. He carries that amount of clout. Sure, he is under contract and the Packers could say, ‘play here or play nowhere.’ They can threaten that, but they can’t actually do it because they don’t want to live through that PR nightmare.
That leaves us with two scenarios in this win-win situation.
Rodgers announces that he’s coming back and the Packers continue to go “all-in” for the second consecutive season. Second? Third? It’s all blurring together. But this path could certainly result in a Lombardi Trophy. The Packers have one of the best rosters in the NFL and Rodgers is a generational talent. A championship isn’t guaranteed, of course, but it’s possible.
That’s clearly a win.
There’s not much more a football fan can ask for than for their team to be a contender in any given year. There’s not a fanbase on earth more deserving of a cathartic championship following the many heartbreaks endured over the last decade.
Sure, there will be some salary cap hell to deal with in the coming years, but the cap is likely going to sharply rise in the coming years. It’s almost like the Packers’ Director of Football Operations Russ Ball knows how to deal with all of this better than the rest of us, huh?
Rodgers announces that his time in Green Bay is over and he’d like to play somewhere else. This still seems unrealistic to us, but it’s possible, so let’s play along. He’s then traded to Denver, Pittsburgh, Tennessee or some other AFC team — then what? Well, the Packers are blessed with some collection of multiple first round picks, other picks and potentially a young impact player (whose contract is still easily digestible).
Hello Broncos’ second year cornerback Patrick Surtain II? Kidding… unless?
This scenario gets the Packers somewhat out of their future cap problems while bolstering an already young roster. Imagine this roster with an extra two to four high-level draft picks and a good, young player. Possibly more. Come on. Jordan Love, with his big arm and obvious athleticism, is handed the reins to the franchise after sitting behind–and learning from–Aaron Rodgers for two seasons. Matt LaFleur is able to tailor his offense to Love’s strengths while the team takes on a more smash-mouth style of play.
No, a Super Bowl wouldn’t be realistic for 2022, but after that? The roster will be looking championship worthy. The same goes for the head coach. LaFleur is the real deal. It will all boil down to the quarterback at that time. But here’s the thing: Love doesn’t have to be an all-time great to lead this team to the promised land. He just has to be above-average while he grows into his career as a starter.
This offense has the ability to build an incredible identity over the next couple seasons as a creative, misdirection, power running and play-action force. This is easy to imagine as the team’s offensive line is elite, young and deep.
That’s a hell of a win, too.
It will take time to see what Love can do and there will be growing pains. Many growing pains. However we’d rather the team be at this stage of ‘the plan’ than potentially drafting a quarterback this year when they need one, which rarely works out. The Packers did this right. And we stand by that statement even if Jordan Love falters. And if he does, the roster will still be incredibly strong moving forward. Stronger than it would have been had Rodgers stayed because of the acquired assets.
Like we said, win-win.
How did the Packers get here?
If you agree with our premise that this team is in a win-win situation, I guess the next thing to grasp is how they got there.
How did it come to be? It didn’t happen by chance, that’s for sure.
The Packers came up with a plan and stuck to it. It’s honestly that simple. Just look at the NFL teams that didn’t think ahead and didn’t draft a talented quarterback when they had the chance and before they had to?
The Pittsburgh Steelers are moving full-steam ahead likely with Mason Rudolph as their starting quarterback in 2022. Yuck.
The New Orleans Saints have Jameis Winston, who has failed elsewhere, as their “guy” heading into 2022. A little better, I guess, but still far from inspiring.
Neither the Steelers or the Saints were brave enough to look ahead and draft a replacement quarterback while their Hall of Fame quarterbacks were still on the team (Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees). This is because they wanted the strongest rosters possible to hopefully get to the Super Bowl in the waning years of their aging quarterback’s careers.
Well, that didn’t work out very well. In the last three seasons neither team earned the No. 1 seed, made it to a Super Bowl or even a Conference Championship Game.
This means they didn’t plan ahead because they wanted to ‘win now’ except they didn’t ‘win now’ and don’t have a concrete plan moving forward either.
Shortsighted is the word that comes to mind.
The Saints at least gave a little more thought than the Steelers, in signing Winston, but neither guy (him or Rudolph) is the long-term answer.
The Packers’ front office had the bravery to plan ahead, while still trying to remain in ‘win-now’ mode. They were brave enough to go get their ‘next guy’ when they got the chance. Green Bay did that and has still won 13 games in three straight seasons with their future quarterback in place if Rodgers does in fact ask to leave.
Would you rather have Jordan Love (23 years old, in his third season), Mason Rudolph (26, best known for being hit with his own helmet) or Jameis Winston (28, with 30 interceptions thrown in his last season as a starter) at quarterback?
Anyone with a basic understanding of football, raw quarterback skills and player development would choose Love, especially as he’s studied under Rodgers.
This is why the Packers are in a win-win situation. And the Broncos, who don’t have a bonafide starting quarterback, are in a position where they’ll have to overpay for one. The Packers, regardless of what happens, are not in that unfortunate boat.
And it was brave to draft Love, we have to reiterate. Some may refer to it was ‘stupid bravery’ but brave nonetheless.
The Packers, unlike these other teams, did it right. That’s our official stance. Because if Rodgers chooses to return, this is a Super Bowl caliber team. If Rodgers decides to leave, the team has a legitimate plan at quarterback and a clear vision for the future.
The front offices in Pittsburgh and New Orleans were seemingly afraid of the fan backlash of drafting a quarterback while they still had Brees and Roethlisberger. Well, those same fans are going to complain about not having a quarterback of the future already on the team. They’re likely going to lose more games than they’re used to in the near future. The Packers however were focused on sustaining success.
Did the Packers’ plan create drama? Yes, no doubt. They’d openly admit it.
But is the organization in as good of a place as it could be right now? Also yes. They won’t flaunt it, but we’ll happily do it for them.
Is there some truth to the catch-22, “Rodgers would only consider leaving now because the team drafted Love?” Perhaps. But there is also some truth to the thought that Rodgers wasn’t nearly as good or healthy in 2017-2019, the seasons leading up to the drafting of Love, as he was from 2011-2016.
Did the drafting of Love inspire Rodgers to work harder and win back-to-back MVPs? It’s probably not that direct, but the correlation is certainly there. You can understand why some fans subscribe to that theory. His career as an all-time great did bounce back recently, but that probably has more to do with Matt LaFleur’s offensive philosophy than a draft pick.
The fact remains the Packers weren’t wrong to plan ahead at quarterback. Just as they weren’t wrong to plan ahead when Brett Favre waffled on his future in the mid-2000s. It just turns out that 38 year old Rodgers is a heck of a lot better than 38 year old Favre.
This is a good thing, a reason to celebrate. Not a reason to attack a draft pick.
Rodgers playing so historically-well in recent seasons doesn’t make the drafting of Love the wrong move. It means that a smart football team got excellent quarterback play even as it further invested in the position — the most important position in sports.
Just because we can see the positive aspect of both sides of Rodgers’ impending decision doesn’t mean we are blind to how amazing he is. Brett Favre is probably the most fun player Packers fans have gotten to watch. But Aaron Rodgers is, somehow, better and he’s been fun as hell to watch, too.
We aren’t anti-Rodgers at all, we just see that life goes on in the NFL and you always need to be looking forward.
If it was guaranteed that Rodgers would stay with the Packers for the next four seasons (though age 42), we’d take that. Again, he gives this team its best chance for championships.
But if this is an ‘all-in’ situation where he’ll just be in town for another season or two… at some point you need to rip the bandaid off and move on. The team knows better than we do about the size of the cut under the bandaid.
Some Packers fans are anxiously awaiting Rodgers’ decision, which may come right after this piece is published. Some Packers fans cannot imagine life without Rodgers, while others are ready for him and his Favrean offseasons to find a new home.
There is no right or wrong answer as a fan. That’s what makes fandom what it is. Some will leave with Rodgers, but it’ll be a very small group that wasn’t going to stick it out anyway.
Rodgers’ 2021 summer was quite a nod to the original Favre Watch summer of 2008. These moments are entertaining to some, anxiety-inducing to others and annoying to many. The 2022 version of the ‘will he, won’t he’ has been a mixture of all three, for us. Especially after the franchise made many moves to portray how important he is to their plans.
We honestly don’t have too strong of an opinion one way or the other. We’ve long written about how the team is in good shape either way at quarterback. But, gun to our head, for 2022? Let’s go win a Super Bowl with Rodgers! Unless his decision surprises us, then let’s roll with Love and have fun watching a young quarterback develop. That’s fun, too!
The biggest sin, obviously, would be losing Rodgers for nothing. He should either retire a Packer in a few years or get traded for a king’s ransom. He has won the last two AP MVPs after all.
This is the crux of Rodgers’ leverage. Perhaps he thinks he can stay in Green Bay until he becomes a free agent leaving the team with nothing in return. Not sure why he’d opt for that, but we can’t say it definitely wouldn’t happen.
To the fans saying, “If he still doesn’t know where he wants to be, then he might as well go” we hear that. To those saying, “you keep him as long as you can” we also hear that.
Regarding the organization?
The Green Bay Packers organization has a vested interest in not being the reason that Rodgers leaves — publicly, that is. They want to retain fan support and not be on the hook for blame. Even if they do trade him, they want it to be clear that it was Rodgers’ decision, not theirs. Everyone in the organization, from general manager Brian Gutekunst to head coach Matt LaFleur, have expressed a strong desire to see Rodgers return.
Do all people mean it with the same vigor? We’ll never know. But they have to make it look like they did everything they could to get him back. And if they do think that a trade is a legitimate option (which we think they do) then talking about how much they want him back does no harm and only drives up the price.
It’s a game like poker, neither wants to completely show their hand. Everyone involved in this process understands this. Not all fans do, but that’s okay. This isn’t for them to sort out. Many just want the quarterback that they’ve fallen in love with over the last decade and a half to stay in Green Bay.
How could you blame them? There might not be another Rodgers-caliber quarterback in Green Bay in their lifetime.
But in time, it will likely be proven that the Packers’ 2022 offseason, although shrouded in drama and intrigue, presented the team with a unique win-win situation at quarterback. Perhaps that’s the way they planned it.
The Packers’ front office knows it can’t lose Rodgers for nothing, so that adds an interesting wrinkle to the timeline of events. Speaking of:
It has to be mentioned that, per Jeremy Fowler at ESPN, the Packers have recently made a contract offer to Rodgers that would “alter the quarterback market.” This offer, presumably, would keep Rodgers in Green Bay for another three to four years and give him a boatload of money. However the team would be able to structure the deal to give instant salary cap relief, keeping the championship window open longer.
Perhaps that’s the biggest win in a win-win situation. Guys like Rodgers, no matter how complicated of a fella, don’t come around often. It would be incredible to see that deal signed, but again, if he still can’t decide it does bring some hesitancy to the whole situation.
If this report is true, which we have no reason to doubt it, then we’d guess Rodgers is getting a percentage of the salary cap. This would be instead of a fixed number. This would be the first time a player got this and it would further build his legacy as a groundbreaker.
This jives with how Rodgers sees himself and his stature in this league. This is just our guess, but it certainly would ‘alter’ the market forever. We’ve long thought he’d pursue something like this. We will see.
This news from Fowler broke as we were putting this piece together. It doesn’t change much about the scenarios. Either Rodgers signs the deal and the Packers have a few more chances at a Lombardi Trophy with 12 at the helm or he doesn’t sign it and they’re ‘forced’ to trade him.
Apparently Denver, according to that same report, is still pushing hard for Rodgers. We’ve long known about their interest, but it’s getting to be crunch time and they’re still in the hunt. That’s notable, if nothing else.
One thing to remember is that no scenario will shock the Packers’ front office. They’re prepared and ready for whatever the future holds. We’ll all know who will be the team’s starting quarterback for 2022 soon enough.
It really is a win-win, folks. Now lets see how it plays out!
Go Pack Go!