Well, it’s finally over. After weeks and weeks of waiting, rumors, trade buzz, and retirement talk, Aaron Rodgers has decided to return to the Green Bay Packers. This is terrific news for the Packers, but this is the worst-case scenario for the Denver Broncos.
The Broncos have stayed as the “other team” in the Rodgers sweepstakes for the last year or so, ever since the Packers quarterback first expressed his frustration with the organization. Then, the Broncos surfaced again over the past few months, and John Elway and George Paton are as desperate as ever to fix the QB position.
But Rodgers is staying put, and the Broncos are now left scrambling for another option. What hurts even more is that Denver invested $95 million in an effort to persuade Rodgers to head to Colorado, and he declined.
Editor’s note: This piece was published shortly before Russell Wilson was reportedly traded to the Denver Broncos.
The Broncos were all-in on Aaron Rodgers, even investing $95 million at the wide receiver position
The Broncos were ready to risk it all to land Rodgers. Unfortunately for them, it didn’t happen.
During the season, Denver inked wide receivers Tim Patrick and Courtland Sutton to contract extensions and seemed to be preparing itself for a run at Rodgers — very similar to how the Tampa Bay Buccaneers courted Tom Brady.
The Broncos then fired Vic Fangio and ended up hiring Nathaniel Hackett — the Packers offensive coordinator. After that, rumors swirled even more about Rodgers heading to Denver.
It was clear all along how desperate the Broncos were to make a run at Rodgers, and if he was leaving Green Bay, they were prepared to offer a ton to acquire him.
Now, the Broncos are left in a world of misfortune, and their $95 million plan and hiring of Hackett are brought into question. Sure, Sutton and Patrick are decent receivers, but are they starting options? Are those two players a long-term plan on the offensive side of the ball?
They don’t have any other options now. It looked good at the time, and surely Rodgers was interested in the Broncos even until the last minute. But the Broncos’ relentless pursuit of the NFL MVP has now backfired in a big way, and they are forced to look elsewhere.
Reports surface that Russell Wilson is Plan B after Rodgers decided to stay put
The Rodgers news shook the entire NFL. Ian Rapoport reported that Rodgers was expected to sign a $200 million deal, although numerous reports have surfaced that nothing is official as of yet.
Nonetheless, he is running it back with the Packers, and the Broncos are shifting their focus to a trade for Russell Wilson.
Wilson has always been rumored as a trade option for Denver, and he is the second-best option after Rodgers. However, they can’t feel good about their chances of landing Wilson.
The Seattle Seahawks were recently offered a monster deal by the Washington Commanders, and they declined to take it. So, the Broncos would undoubtedly need to top that offer. The question is: Do they decide to do that or not?
The Broncos have a lot of assets available, although it appears the Commanders want some sort of viable QB as part of a package. The Broncos’ only option is Drew Lock, which isn’t too enticing for Seattle.
Still, the Broncos should be doing whatever it takes to land Wilson, especially after their failed attempt to land Rodgers.
The news didn’t sit too well with Broncos WR Jerry Jeudy
Everybody knew it was between the Broncos and the Packers. As the days and weeks went by, it looked more and more possible that Rodgers would play at Lambeau Field in 2022.
But doubts arose recently, and faith got restored into the Broncos fan base. Now, heartbreak sets in, and Denver WR Jerry Jeudy made clear his feelings on Twitter.
Jeudy was expected to be a WR1 in the NFL after a stellar career at Alabama. But he played with Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater primarily in his first two seasons.
Of course, Jeudy wanted Rodgers to come to Denver. Adding the NFL MVP would have instantly sent the Broncos toward the top of the AFC, although it wouldn’t have been easy to compete with Justin Herbert and Patrick Mahomes in the AFC West.
Acquiring Wilson would soften the blow, although the chances of landing him are slim. So, that doesn’t leave very many options in free agency, and Jameis Winston is the best QB available this time around.
The Rodgers-to-Denver dream is officially over, and the Broncos are left wondering what could have been.
Stats Courtesy of Pro Football Reference