With each passing day, it seems more likely Aaron Rodgers might actually have played his last game with the Packers. Green Bay can, will and should insist that it's not parting ways with its star quarterback, but the reality is Rodgers wants out. Multiple outlets have indicated as much, with the reigning NFL MVP reportedly telling teammates he doesn't plan to return to the Pack, airing grievances with the entire Green Bay front office, offering to pay millions just to be shipped elsewhere and, now, contemplating retirement to force the team's hand. While several inquiring clubs have reportedly been turned away already, it's only a matter of time until the Packers are forced to field offers if their face of the franchise plays hardball and actually refuses to suit up for his own squad.
It's not dissimilar to the Deshaun Watson situation in Houston, at least prior to the Texans QB facing a litany of legal challenges and allegations. No smart NFL team will ever publicly acknowledge the possibility of its star QB playing elsewhere, but at some point, bad public relations -- like, you know, Aaron Rodgers all but requesting he never plays for the Packers again -- becomes more daunting than satisfying a disgruntled superstar and fostering a good, healthy team environment in the process. All indications are that Rodgers' relationship with Green Bay has already soured to an extreme level, so if the trajectory continues, we're in for a heck of a summer in Wisconsin.
All that said, what exactly might the Packers expect to get for Rodgers?
Matthew Stafford cost the Rams two first-round picks, a third-round pick and Jared Goff (more like Goff's contract) this year. Carson Wentz cost the Colts a third and conditional second that can become a first. Sam Darnold cost the Panthers a second, fourth and sixth. Trey Lance, the 49ers' pick at No. 3 on Thursday night, essentially cost San Francisco its No. 12 pick, two additional firsts and a third. Rodgers, as you may well know, is far superior than each and every one of them. And while he'll be 38 at the end of 2021, he's also fresh off an MVP season, has played all 16 games in seven of his last nine seasons, and his contract -- roughly $105 million due over the next three years (with a whopping $0 guaranteed) -- is palatable.
In other words, he'd cost a fortune. And odds are only a few teams would make legitimate offers. Rodgers reportedly identified the Broncos, 49ers and Raiders as preferred landing spots this week, but San Francisco is out of the mix now that Lance is on board. That leaves Denver and Las Vegas, unless you're including NFC wild cards like the Saints -- which we are not, in this exercise, because it's just incredibly hard to foresee Green Bay allowing Rodgers to stay in the NFC if he gets his wish for a fresh start.
Here, then, are just a couple potential trade packages that could make sense for the Broncos and Raiders:
- QB Drew Lock, 2022 first-rounder, 2023 first-rounder, 2024 first-rounder, 2022 second-rounder, 2023 third-rounder
- WR Courtland Sutton, 2022 first, 2023 first, 2024 first, 2022 second
- OG Graham Glasgow, 2022 first, 2023 first, 2024 first, 2022 second, 2023 second
- OLB Von Miller, 2022 first, 2023 first, 2024 first, 2022 second, 2023 fifth
In every scenario here, the baseline is three first-rounders. That just has to be a starting point, unless more than one impact starter or Day Two pick packages are included. Because, remember, if Green Bay actually deals Rodgers, it's going to need all the resources it can get to either build around 2020 first-rounder Jordan Love or hunt for an alternative. Lock makes sense as throw-in competition rather than a Love replacement. Sutton and Glasgow, meanwhile, would make for short- and long-term upgrades at wide receiver or offensive guard, respectively, whereas Miller would give the Packers a premium rental at pass rusher. The keys, again, are the picks: In every deal here, Green Bay gets at least four picks in the first two rounds.
- QB Derek Carr, 2022 first, 2023 first, 2024 first
- WR Henry Ruggs III, 2022 first, 2023 first, 2024 first, 2022 second, 2023 fourth
- DE Maxx Crosby, S Johnathan Abram, 2022 first, 2023 first, 2024 first, 2022 third
If the Packers would be more enticed by a quicker fix at QB before handing the keys to Love, then the Raiders are quietly intriguing. Carr has drawn annual support from Vegas brass, but both coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock have repeatedly hinted at exploring upgrades, and there's no doubt they'd cut the cord if it meant adding A-Rod. Carr, meanwhile, would likely allow Green Bay to stay in the playoff hunt in 2021 and beyond. Ruggs would give the Pack the young, flashy play-maker they've lacked opposite Davante Adams. Crosby and Abram, meanwhile, would give new defensive coordinator Joe Barry two high-upside starters, with Crosby in particular offering long-term juice as a 23-year-old with 17 sacks in his first two seasons.