The Green Bay Packers agreed to several stipulations to get quarterback Aaron Rodgers to report to training camp. The organization brought back Randall Cobb, per Rodgers’ request. Green Bay also agreed to restructure the three-time MVP’s contract.
More recent details about the two parties’ agreement have leaked. Rodgers can request — and be granted — a trade at season’s end if he still wants to leave Green Bay.
Based on everything that happened during the offseason, it feels safe to assume Rodgers’ relationship with the Packers is unsalvageable. If that’s the case, one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time will be on the trade market.
But what could Green Bay realistically expect in return if the organization was forced into dealing its franchise QB?
If the Green Bay Packers do trade Aaron Rodgers, they would need certain pieces back in return
Green Bay would be trading one of the best players in franchise history; the return pieces should be somewhat equivalent. The issue is that the Packers would lose a significant amount of leverage if it became clear Rodgers wasn’t returning to the organization.
If the team had decided to deal its star quarterback before he returned for training camp, the return demands would have been much higher. Something in the realm of multiple first-round picks and young stars still on rookie contracts, and possibly a bridge quarterback to Jordan Love if one were available.
If Rodgers wants to leave at the end of the season, though, the Packers’ return would diminish markedly. He could also force the Packers’ hand as to where he ends up, which could lessen the return even further.
Trade scenario No. 1: Aaron Rodgers ends up in Denver after all
Denver receives: Aaron Rodgers, 2022 sixth-round pick
Green Bay receives: CB Ronald Darby, 2022 first-round pick, 2023 third-round pick
The Denver Broncos have been the team most rumored to be involved in a Rodgers trade. As currently constructed, Denver has Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater behind center. Lock has been underwhelming since he was drafted in the second round in 2019, and Bridgewater has never been better than league average. Assuming Lock doesn’t have a breakout season, the Broncos would still be at the front of the queue of the Rodgers sweepstakes.
The Packers should still get a decent return as teams try not to get outbid. A veteran outside corner in Darby, who compiled 55 tackles and broke up 16 passes with Washington in 2020 and signed a three-year, $30 million contract with Denver, could help answer some of Green Bay’s cornerback issues across from Jaire Alexander. Coupled with two picks, including a first-rounder, the Packers get a decent return for a player who’s leaving anyway.
Trade scenario No. 2: The Washington Football Team makes a leap toward the top of the NFC
Washington receives: Aaron Rodgers
Green Bay receives: WR Dyami Brown, 2022 first-round pick, 2023 second-round pick
Washington enters this season with Ryan Fitzpatrick atop its quarterback depth chart. Fitzpatrick and his fantastic beard will be turning 40 and entering his 17th season in the NFL if he continues to play after 2021. He signed a one-year deal with Washington and will be a free agent in 2022 if he doesn’t retire. The Football Team has an underrated roster and could compete this season, even with Fitzmagic under center. Acquiring Rodgers in 2022 would give them NFC-contender status.
In return, the Packers would get a first-round selection, an additional second-round pick, and Brown. Washington grabbed the North Carolina product in the third round of this April’s draft. He’s a slim target but a speedy one, which would help Love stretch the defense.
Trade scenario No. 3: Jon Gruden finally gets his guy
Las Vegas receives: Aaron Rodgers
Green Bay receives: LB Cory Littleton, 2022 first-round pick, 2022 fifth-round pick, 2023 second-round pick
Gruden wants Rodgers, and Rodgers would likely save Gruden’s job with the Raiders. And General Manager Mike Mayock’s, for that matter, as things haven’t gone well since the two took over in Vegas. The organization might be a little more willing to overpay for a quarterback that would change its future, leading Las Vegas to include three draft picks.
Littleton was a major free agent signing for the Raiders prior to last season but didn’t come close to his 2018 and 2019 production with the Los Angeles Rams. The Washington product had 82 tackles last year and played 78% of the Raiders’ defensive snaps. In 2019, his last year with the Rams, he played 95% of the team’s defensive snaps, totaled 134 tackles, had two interceptions, and forced two fumbles. The year prior, he had 125 tackles and picked off three passes. The Packers would hope he could get back to the level he played at in LA and solve their long-standing problem of a three-down linebacker.
Rodgers would be the most productive quarterback to be traded in recent memory. He played at an MVP level in 2020 and showed his skills are not declining. There’s a real possibility he would be in the running for another MVP in 2022, no matter where he ends up — especially given the 24th-pick sized chip that remains on his shoulder.
If Green Bay is forced to move in that direction, though, there are possible packages to be had that could set the Packers up for some level of success in a post-Rodgers world.