It’s been less than a week since the Green Bay Packers saw their season die on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. But in these past five days since the San Francisco 49ers booted the Packers from the NFL Playoffs, the trade rumors swirling around Aaron Rodgers are hotter than ever.
As of Wednesday, all signs were pointing toward Denver, CO, as the landing spot not just for Rodgers, but also his trusty sidekick, wide receiver Davante Adams, in what would be the megadeal of this offseason.
ESPN’s Jordan Schultz reported on Tuesday that a long-rumored Rogers-to-Denver Broncos deal is not just some Broncos fan’s fever dream. And that Adams is very much in the picture for what would be a tag-and-trade scenario.
If this were to happen, it would be yet another major upset for John Elway against the Packers, a quarter-century after he shocked the world on the field as quarterback in Super Bowl 32. Now, as Broncos’ President of Football Operations, he might be close to stunning Green Bay again.
‘The relationship between Rodgers and the Packers is severed,’ is a good baseline for a trade
According to his sources, Schultz said, the Packers and Broncos are exploring a deal that would send both Rodgers and Adams to Denver in exchange for an impact wide receiver, likely 2021 rookie Jerry Jeudy, to replace Adams, and a first-round pick in exchange for Rodgers.
With both Packers stars highly disgruntled with management, and with Rodgers threatening retirement and Adams set to become the top unrestricted free agent on the market, that is probably close to top value the Packers are going to get in such a low-leverage scenario.
“Sources tell me that, yes, the relationship between Rodgers and the Packers is severed. We knew that,” Schultz said. “I’m also told that Adams, given his friendship with Rodgers, has grown increasingly frustrated with the Packers’ mistreatment of one of his best friends.
“So, why do the Broncos make sense? We know they have the cap — $49 million. We know we have the assets — think Jerry Jeudy. And you have a potential sign-and-trade opportunity with Davante Adams, Jeudy, and a first-round pick.”
Tagging and trading Adams might be the best way for the Packers to get something in return
The Packers went into the 2021 season having publicly expressed their understanding that Rodgers, his relationship with the team forever damaged after the drafting of quarterback Jordan Love in 2020, would not be back in 2022.
There were whispers and murmurs during the season, even after Rodgers’ COVID “immunization” controversy, that Rodgers might return for the final year of his contract in 2022. That appears to have been wishful thinking.
What the Packers may not have anticipated is how tight the bond between Rodgers and Adams had become, and how disillusioned the All-Pro wide receiver might now be with the organization as he prepares to hit free agency. The team could slap the franchise tag on Adams, but that would probably only further the strain between player and front office, making a tag-and-trade scenario far more likely.
And Schultz reported that Rodgers and Adams would “love to team up” with the Broncos in a package deal.
Rodgers told The Pat McAfee Show on Tuesday that his decision whether or not to retire will come before the free agency period opens in March.
“Everything is definitely on the table,” Rodgers said. “There are things that seem more plausible or more likely, which I won’t necessarily get into, but the most important thing is first the commitment to playing, and to going through the offseason and training and all that stuff is the first.”
The Broncos can tilt the field in their favor with the right coaching hires
The huge x-factor in all of this is who becomes the next head coach and offensive coordinator in Denver.
Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett had his second interview for the job on Monday, a meeting that reportedly lasted eight hours.
Should Hackett get the job, that would further incentivize Rodgers and Adams, who have a good relationship with Hackett, to agree to a trade to the Broncos.
Other top candidates for the Broncos job include Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell.
“They will trade Rodgers to wherever Nathaniel Hackett’s coaching, probably Denver,” Sports Illustrated’s Packers beat reporter Bill Huber told The Head of the Pack podcast. “Adams will go with him because the Broncos have [loads] of cap space.”
The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman, on the same podcast, shared that sentiment.
“I would’ve said both would stay,” Schneidman said. “After [the loss to San Francisco], I think the Packers trade Rodgers and Adams in a tag-and-trade to the Denver Broncos, who will have Dan Quinn as their head coach and [Packers quarterbacks coach] Luke Getsy calling plays. Adams and Rodgers both love Luke Getsy. So we’ll see what happens there.”
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference