Aaron Rodgers is expected to inform the Packers of his 2022 plans in the near future. The longtime quarterback and reigning MVP has plenty of reason to return to Green Bay if he doesn't retire, considering the Packers -- unlike many teams -- are already on the verge of title contention. But what happens if Rodgers, even after improving his relationship with team brass, still requests a trade? Multiple teams have already extended offers for the 38-year-old signal-caller, according to ESPN.
Here's how we'd rank Rodgers' most logical landing spots, in the event he seeks a relocation and Green Bay listens to offers:
Jalen Hurts has a lot going for him as a young, developing mobile and ever-poised starter. But general manager Howie Roseman has every reason to explore the market for a superior passer, especially with three first-round picks at his disposal. Rodgers may be a short-term solution for a team preaching patience, but Roseman is notoriously aggressive, and Philly would embrace the idea of pairing such a star QB with new play-makers like DeVonta Smith. The issue is twofold: the Packers wouldn't prefer Rodgers sticking in the NFC, and Rodgers probably wouldn't sign up for more of a rebuilding scenario under a young coach.
Few teams are as desperate for a QB upgrade (and as trigger-happy at the position in recent years). They can at least tout a promising defense and a few Grade-A weapons (Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore), and new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo was Rodgers' QBs coach from 2012-2013. The problem is, does Rodgers trust they are close enough to contention under coach Matt Rhule? And would Carolina really be prepared to mortgage its future for someone not named Deshaun Watson, assuming the Pack demand an otherworldly haul to keep Rodgers within the NFC?
Derek Carr is a fine starter, but he's easily expendable in 2022, and the whole team is in transition under new coach Josh McDaniels. With plenty of cap space, the Raiders could surely make an offer, promising Rodgers a move closer to his West Coast home, a big role in decision-making alongside a new regime, and perhaps a big offer for his friend Davante Adams. But they also feel a bit further from real contention than other logical suitors, especially in a tough division. Would Rodgers really be eager to jump from the Packers to this unproven setup?
No matter what Kevin Stefanski says about Baker Mayfield, the latter isn't locked into a long-term job after an underwhelming 2021. Cleveland is otherwise mostly built to contend with a rock-solid O-line, an elite running back and promising defense. Stefanski isn't so unlike Matt LaFleur -- a young, proven offensive mind -- and could appeal to Rodgers, especially if Davante Adams is part of the relocation. The market isn't necessarily a draw, but perhaps Rodgers would see it as a chance to elevate his own legacy by finally bringing the Browns into contemporary stardom.
Who knows what Rodgers thinks of its generally dysfunctional ownership? This isn't exactly a dream destination for elite players. Football-wise, though, the building blocks are there: a respected veteran coach in Ron Rivera, a high-ceiling defense, some young play-makers (Antonio Gibson, Terry McLaurin, etc.) who would theoretically take off with a superior QB, and a very winnable division. Washington has never been shy about taking swings for veteran QBs, and Rivera has both the cash and lack of reliable passers to justify a big offer. The other question is whether the Packers would even consider dealing him in the NFC.
The Packers wouldn't want Rodgers in the NFC, let alone on one of the teams best suited to do all it can to stay in the title hunt. But Tampa Bay's desperation in the wake of Tom Brady's retirement could result in an offer too good to turn down, especially if Rodgers is getting final say over his destination anyway. Tampa Bay has cap issues, especially if it wants to surround its next QB with pieces like pending free agent Chris Godwin, but coach Bruce Arians wants a quick fix for one last championship run, and Rodgers could rest easy knowing this franchise is willing and able to do everything for its QB.
Tennessee has gotten roughly top-10 production from Ryan Tannehill during the QB's nearly three seasons on the job, but the veteran is 0-3 in his last three playoff starts, playing a big role in those defeats. Mike Vrabel knows how to build and maintain a tough winner in the AFC South, but his team is still arguably an elite QB away from getting over the hump. The only feasible way out of Tannehill's contract is a trade, but why wouldn't they explore it, especially via old friend Matt LaFleur? Rodgers, meanwhile, would be right back with a contender, complete with star teammates like Derrick Henry and A.J. Brown.
If Pittsburgh weren't historically averse to these kinds of blockbuster swings, it'd easily rank higher. Everything fits: Rodgers and Mike Tomlin have a deep respect for each other, the Steelers are an iconic franchise and proven winner, and Ben Roethlisberger is already basking in retirement. Pittsburgh has the defense to contend now, and if it were to finagle enough money to bring Davante Adams with Rodgers, that combo with Najee Harris (and a restored O-line) would be scary. Tomlin has the track record to push ownership for a quick fix at QB, and at least Green Bay would be shipping Rodgers to the AFC.
Carson Wentz wasn't bad in his Colts debut, but he also didn't deliver in key spots, leaving Indy in QB purgatory despite a roster otherwise built to compete right now. Team owner Jim Irsay has all but outed himself as wanting Wentz gone, even if coach Frank Reich might prefer another go-round. And the Colts can move on rather easily, saving money in the process. Rodgers would give the franchise a long-awaited injection of franchise star power, which has been missing since Andrew Luck's 2019 retirement, and potentially save Reich and GM Chris Ballard's jobs by returning the AFC South squad to the title conversation.
Tua Tagovailoa has earned at least a little more time under center, and new coach Mike McDaniel seems genuinely interested in developing the youngster. But it's not every day a future Hall of Famer is available. Miami reportedly kept eyes on Deshaun Watson despite his litany of legal issues. Rodgers would fulfill that lingering desire for established help, and then some. A-Rod, meanwhile, would get the Tom Brady-style move to sunny Florida, where the Dolphins are absolutely flush with cap space (Davante Adams package deal?) and boast a defense ready to win now, not to mention a new whizkid coach.
GM George Paton knows all too well what Rodgers can do, coming from a career in Minnesota. The Broncos, desperate for a QB with Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock confirmed as non-answers, have long been linked to Rodgers -- and that was before the team hired former Packers offensive coordinator and noted Rodgers companion Nathaniel Hackett as its new coach. Executive John Elway could point to Peyton Manning as evidence of a superstar veteran lifting the entire franchise, and Denver has the cap space to get creative. Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton would offer Rodgers solid WRs to start, and No. 12 would also get a ready-made defense, while Green Bay would keep him out of the NFC.