We are now just a week away from the legal tampering period that is the unofficial start of NFL free agency. The first day that teams can contact free agents across the league and discuss deals is Monday, March 14. The relentless countdown clock is tick-tick-ticking.
At some point soon, Aaron Rodgers is going to have to make his decision.
As everyone knows, whether they want to or not, Rodgers and his employer, the Green Bay Packers, do not have the best of working relationships these days. And while it certainly remains possible that Rodgers, for all his grousing and hurt feelings that the Packers drafted his intended successor, Jordan Love, back in 2020, could return to the Packers in 2022, it seems far more likely Rodgers will either announce his retirement or officially ask for a trade.
Whether Rodgers is leaning toward the latter or not, he appears to be leaving nothing to chance. If Rodgers wants to leave, Pro Football Talk reported Saturday that he has picked out trade destinations behind doors No. 1, 2, and 3.
Report: With Packers’ blessing, Rodgers has a trio of trade partners and deal parameters in place
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk moved the ball on this story farther than it has been since the Rodgers-Packers dust-up began in earnest over a year ago.
While there had been talk early last week that Rodgers and the Packers were talking about a whopping two-year, $100 million contract extension, Florio reported Saturday that “a source with knowledge of the situation,” Rodgers has specific deals lined up with the Denver Broncos, Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans — and those teams have trade compensation lined up with the Packers.
Florio further stated that Rodgers’ pursuit of these deals came with the permission of the Packers. All that remains, apparently, is for Rodgers to decide whether to pursue one of the offers or stay in Green Bay.
Rodgers said three weeks ago that he planned to make a decision in “a couple of weeks,” and he sent the world on a wild goose chase back on Feb. 22 with an Instagram post that read like a retirement announcement. But according to another high-profile report on Friday, Rodgers is having trouble making his decision.
What would these trades look like? Mostly picks, but also some players
What exactly would it take to satisfy the Packers they were getting a fair return for a Hall of Fame quarterback who just won the league MVP at age 38? Certainly the Broncos (No. 9), Steelers (20) and Titans (26) would have to surrender their first-round 2022 NFL Draft picks. That’s a no-brainer.
And given the nature of the Matthew Stafford deal last year between the Los Angeles Rams and Detroit Lions, there would likely need to be a future first-round pick thrown in for good measure. Some later-round picks from this year and/or next would also probably be required.
The Broncos, who hired former Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett earlier this year, would probably have to throw in a player like wide receiver Jerry Jeudy, especially if the Packers also lose Davante Adams to free agency.
The Titans have been contemplating the post-Ryan Tannehill era via the draft, perhaps hoping Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett would fall to them at 26. But throwing Tannehill into the Rodgers deal, a la Jared Goff in the Stafford package, could also work.
Rapoport report: Rodgers is “truly torn” over decision to stay in Green Bay or seek trade
The day before Florio’s bombshell, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network had his own Rodgers news to break.
In a tweet, Rapoport indicated that Rodgers was still wrestling over his ultimate decision, describing the quarterback as “truly torn.”
“With all eyes on #Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and his future, here is the latest: Sources say Rodgers is truly torn on where he wants to play in 2022,” Rapaport tweeted on Friday afternoon. “While many in the NFL expect him to return — there’s lots of positivity in Green Bay — he is going back and forth on what he wants.”
Whatever Rodgers wants, he needs to decide soon. The next Pat McAfee show is Tuesday, March 8. That might be the last, best time for Rodgers to do this on his own terms.
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference