When the drafted Jordan Love in the first round of last year’s draft, the Green Bay Packers invited questions about the future of Aaron Rodgers. Some people even made the case, within the proper context, that it was a good move to draft Love.
All Rodgers did this year was have an MVP season, and one of the best years of his career. The Packers went 13-3 and reached the NFC Championship Game for the second straight year, losing 31-26 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.
After the loss, with the frustration of a season being over as an important caveat, Rodgers had some interesting quotes.
“A lot of guys futures that are, you know, uncertain, myself included,” Rodgers said. “That’s what’s sad about it most. . . . Just the uncertainties is tough and the finality of it all.”
“There’s a lot of unknowns going into this offseason now. And I’m going to have to take some time away for sure and clear my head and just kind of see what’s going on with everything. But it’s pretty tough right now, especially thinking about the guys that may or may not be here next year. There’s always change. That’s the only constant in this business.”
Rodgers has three years left on his contract. He’s presumably not considering retirement. But the idea he’d ask to be traded is not that far-fetched, as he is calculated and measured with everything he says.
It’s not very likely on the surface, but Rodgers would obviously not be the first Hall of Fame quarterback to finish his career elsewhere. I won’t invite boring you with all the details. But Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk has outlined a viable Rodgers trade scenario here.
So if only on the faint idea he wants out of Green Bay, these five teams could try to trade for Rodgers this offseason.
5 potential landing spots for Aaron Rodgers
5. San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers can easily move on from Jimmy Garoppolo this offseason, and it’s fair to say they will if there’s a viable better option out there. Cutting or trading Garoppolo would clear $24.1 million in cap space (with only a $2.8 million dead money hit). Rodgers is a California native, and he went to school at Cal-Berkeley. So the 49ers might be an appealing landing spot for him, if they can do the cap gymnastics to make room.
4. Washington Football Team
In the first offseason with Ron Rivera as head coach, Washington made a significant offer to wide receiver Amari Cooper in free agency. And for more than he ultimately took to stay with the Cowboys. So this is a team with a win-now mentality, and a new culture.
Heading into the offseason, Washington has a big question at quarterback. Alex Smith may win Comeback Player of the Year and retire. The 19th pick in the draft won’t yield one of the top quarterback prospects, but it could be the start of a deal for someone like Matthew Stafford.
Washington has $35 million in cap space right now, based on a $176 million projection (via Over The Cap). If they have more available, via a higher salary cap and cuts they’ll make, the array of possible big offseason moves would be widened. Would Rodgers trade green and gold for burgundy and gold?
3. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts were left in a quarterback quandary by Andrew Luck’s sudden retirement in August of 2019, and they’ve been essentially going year-to-year with Jacoby Brissett and Philip Rivers since. Rivers has retired, and Jacob Eason is the only quarterback under contract for 2021.
The Colts have ample cap space again (approximately $64.9 million, via Over The Cap). So it’s assumed they’ll make a significant move for a quarterback this offseason (Matthew Stafford, Dak Prescott?, Carson Wentz?). Rodgers is now on the fringes of being “available”.
2. New England Patriots
With the idea any big-name quarterback is available, the memes showing Bill Belichick at attention take over the internet quickly.
But all levity aside, the Patriots enter the offseason with the fourth-most cap space in the league (according to Over The Cap). They waited until late June to sign Cam Newton last offseason. So the idea of pushing a deal for Rodgers out to June 2 is hardly a long shot. If the NFL offseason program (or lack of) is at all similar to last offseason, a late move won’t be detrimental.
With the cap space they’ll have, the Patriots can’t be ruled out of anything or anyone this offseason. If Rodgers is available, they are an easy possible suitor.
1. Las Vegas Raiders
Jon Gruden is three years into a reported 10-year contract in his second go-round as Raiders’ head coach. But a fall from 6-3 to 8-8 and out of the playoffs this year has unveiled indications he’ll be looking for scapegoats. Which in turn invites speculation over how long a leash Gruden will have if the team keeps falling short.
It’s clear Derek Carr is not a top-end quarterback. It’s hard to believe anything Gruden or GM Mike Mayock says suggesting they won’t replace him at the first chance. Moving on from Carr would be easy this offseason, clearing $19.625 million in cap space (with a $2.5 million cap charge).
Gruden and Mayock, to their credit really, have been patient with the idea of replacing Carr. They haven’t drafted someone just to do it, and Tom Brady turned them down last offseason. They took a flier on Marcus Mariota to either push Carr, or replace him if it came to that. It would take some work, starting with Carr being gone. But even a hint Rodgers is available has to intrigue the Raiders.