Green Bay Packers fans can look forward to seeing Aaron Rodgers under center for at least one more year. However, whether the future Hall of Famer continues to torch NFC North teams for a living after the 2021 season remains a bit of a mystery.
While the possibility exists that their relationship lasts longer than expected, the Packers just dropped a major hint about Rodgers’ future with the franchise by backing themselves into a $46 million corner.
Aaron Rodgers’ return instantly makes Green Bay a top Super Bowl contender in 2021
The Packers have come agonizingly close to earning a trip to the Super Bowl in three of the last five years. But due to a variety of factors, the team hasn’t been able to quite get over the hump. Coming off yet another crushing NFC Championship defeat, Green Bay looked a franchise bound for a major regression in 2021.
Then Tuesday happened.
Instead of beginning training camp with Jordan Love atop the quarterback depth chart, the Packers had their unquestioned leader back in the mix.
Of course, it took some major concessions for Rodgers to return to work.
By restructuring their most important player’s contract, the Packers ensured they will have the reigning MVP’s services for the 2021 season. And considering how the last few months went, the idea of a highly-motivated Rodgers should give defensive coordinators nightmares. Barring any significant injury issues, the reigning NFC North champions should be in the mix for the Lombardi Trophy based on the sheer amount of talent they possess on both sides of the ball.
However, just because Rodgers will play his 17th season with the franchise doesn’t mean he should be considered anything close to a lock to finish his career in Green Bay.
In fact, the Packers just dropped a major hint about Rodgers’ future by backing themselves into an expensive corner.
The Packers dropped a major hint about their star quarterback’s future by backing themselves into a $46 million corner
Getting Rodgers back on board required the front office to make major alterations to the $134 million deal he signed ahead of the 2018 season. Given his value and status as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, it made sense for the Packers to do everything possible to convince Rodgers to give it one more go.
On the plus side, the team saved roughly $10 million by restructuring his contract. Instead of counting $37.2 million against the 2021 salary cap, Rodgers will account for about $27.6 million. With Davante Adams angling for a record-setting extension, that additional cap space could help the team retain the All-Pro receiver.
On the other hand, when it comes to Rodgers’ future with the franchise, the Packers dropped a major clue about what lies ahead by making it almost impossible to keep him around under the new terms of his deal.
According to Sports Illustrated, the 37-year-old quarterback carries a cap hit of $46.14 million for the 2022 season. Green Bay projects to be $50 million over the cap, which essentially makes a Rodgers trade or extension a necessity. Unless the Packers are willing to let him eat up roughly a fourth of the team’s cap space, there’s no doubt the quarterback will either play elsewhere in 2022 or receive yet another extension that will drastically lower that $46.1 million figure.
So, even though Green Bay looks like a strong Super Bowl contender for the upcoming season, things could change rather quickly next spring. Assuming the Packers still think highly of Love, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Rodgers gets dealt ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Trading Rodgers still seems like the best solution for everyone involved
Ultimately, the best outcome for everyone involved still centers around trading arguably the best quarterback in the NFL not named Patrick Mahomes.
Why’s that the case?
First, the Packers have to give Love an opportunity to make good on his first-round pedigree. It would make little sense to have spent a first-round pick on a quarterback who won’t see the field by his third year with the team. After all, Green Bay could have drafted a wide receiver to help Rodgers rather than a player who will likely replace him at some point. By the time the 2022 offseason begins, the Packers should be ready to hand the keys to the offense to Love, who they traded up for in the 2020 draft.
Moreover, a change of scenery would give Rodgers the freedom of not having to deal with general manager Brian Gutekunst. The two obviously don’t see eye-to-eye about personnel decisions, so a parting of ways could benefit both men.
Rodgers would have the chance to play for a new franchise that would undoubtedly have every reason to cater to his wants and needs. Meanwhile, Gutekunst wouldn’t have to deal with getting criticized or questioned by the leader of the team.
Plus, the Packers would likely receive multiple first-round picks in any deal involving an all-time great.
Talk about a win-win for everyone, right?
Then again, if Aaron Rodgers finally brings the Lombardi Trophy back to Lambeau, perhaps the Packers will reconsider transitioning to an unproven commodity in 2022.