Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers looks to throw during the first half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts in Indianapolis, in this Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, file photo. Rogers was selected Friday, Jan. 8, 2021, for The Associated Press NFL All-Pro Team. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)
- The Rodgers-Packers situation has been on a slow burn for a long time
- This relationship soured around the time the Packers drafted Jordan Love last year
- We examine which teams would be best landing spot for the reigning MVP
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers is coming off the third MVP season of his career, but his relationship with the Packers has soured so much that the 2011 Super Bowl champion is trying to force his way out.
The bad blood goes back to the 2020 NFL Draft when the Packers took Utah State quarterback Jordan Love No. 26 overall, blindsiding Rodgers. Even at 37, Rodgers doesn’t seem to be losing an edge, but some don’t blame the Packers for putting a transition plan in place.
It didn’t help Rodgers’ relationship with the team when coach Matt LaFleur elected to kick a 26-yard field goal on fourth down in last year’s NFC Championship Game rather than going for it and potentially tying the game with Tampa, potentially robbing Rodgers of a second chance at a Super Bowl title.
Sportsbooks have now released odds on where Rodgers will play in Week 1 of the upcoming NFL season.
Odds on Aaron Rodgers Team in Week 1 of 2021 NFL Season
|Green Bay Packers||-125|
|Las Vegas Raiders||+500|
|New Orleans Saints||+900|
|San Francisco 49ers||+1600|
|New England Patriots||+2000|
|New York Giants||+4000|
|Los Angeles Chargers||+10000|
|Los Angeles Rams||+10000|
|New York Jets||+10000|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||+10000|
|Kansas City Chiefs||+15000|
Odds from DraftKings on May 3 (available only in Colorado and W. Virginia).
The Packers (-125) remain the favorite to retain Rodgers. But the Denver Broncos (+200) have surfaced as a possible landing spot and their Super Bowl odds improved from +6000 to +2000 almost instantly.
Why Denver Makes Sense
Despite acquiring Teddy Bridgewater already this offseason, the Broncos are still in the market for a new quarterback. There is little evidence to suggest that Bridgewater or Drew Lock are ready for prime time.
The Broncos acquired Bridgewater in a trade from the Carolina Panthers and new Broncos GM George Paton has suggested that Bridgewater will provide competition with Lock, although it’s clear that Lock would be expendable if Rodgers is acquired.
Rodgers would want a cast of good receivers and the Broncos can provide that in Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, K.J. Hamler, and Noah Fant. But perhaps the main reason this deal makes sense is that the Packers would be sending Rodgers out of the NFC and away from the Packers.
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Rodgers is under contract through the end of the 2023 season after signing a four-year, $134 million extension in August 2018, when he had two years left on his existing deal. Rodgers carries a $37.2 million cap hit for 2021. But the Packers could move on from him after the 2021 season and save roughly $22 million in cap room in 2022.
As of now, Rodgers carries a dead cap value of $38,356,000. The Broncos are among the league leaders in cap room ($23 million) with an NFL salary cap of $182.5 million.
Atlanta (+6600) is among the interesting longshots because it would seem to fit Rodgers’ character that he would want to go to a team that has never won a Super Bowl. In that way, he would earn more favorable comparisons to Tom Brady, who left a perennial champion to take an also-ran to the Super Bowl in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Matt LaFleur told Kyle Shanahan he was ‘wasting his time’ asking about Aaron Rodgers. 👀 pic.twitter.com/UnlzVyFz5J
— theScore (@theScore) May 3, 2021
Rodgers has apparently expressed interest in the 49ers (+1600) but they don’t seem like a good fit because they just drafted quarterback Trey Lance with the No. 3 overall pick.
On Sunday morning, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler said on SportsCenter that Rodgers is interested in the Raiders and that they could be a team to watch. With Derek Carr as the incumbent, most would agree that the Raiders are in better shape at QB than Denver, but Rodgers would still represent a massive upgrade.
.@MarcellusWiley isn’t buying that Aaron Rodgers would actually retire.
“This is an empty threat.” pic.twitter.com/KjUdDedR0z
— Speak For Yourself (@SFY) May 3, 2021
What leverage does Rodgers have? His hardline strategies might involve not showing up for offseason activities or holding out of training camp, and possibly retirement.
In the end, the most desperate team for Rodgers’ services might be the Packers, themselves. Rodgers still has elite receivers at his disposal, including Davante Adams, and the Pack are certainly not in a position to have Jordan Love to take over as No. 1.
Curtis has been a sports writer for more than 40 years, contributing to the Toronto Star, New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, the Guardian and Forbes. He has covered the NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB, PGA, ATP and WTA. Curtis resides in Toronto.