Aaron Rodgers emerged from the darkness and saw his shadow, which means six more weeks of bullshit. The Packers quarterback has promised not to drag out his decision for 2023, but didn’t offer any kind of indication on when, or how that would come.
Rodgers did what he tends to do in these situations: Appear on a podcast, and wants people who don’t like how his handling this to just “tune it out.”
“There’s a finality to the decision. I don’t make it lightly. I don’t want to drag anybody around. Look, I’m answering questions about it because I got asked about it. I’m talking about it because it’s important to me. If you don’t like it and you think it’s drama, you think I’m being a diva or whatever, then just tune it out. That’s fine. But this is my life. It’s important to me, and I’ll make a decision soon enough and we’ll go down that road and be really excited about it.”
That’s easier said than done, especially when the short-term future of the Packers hangs in the balance. At this point Rodgers deciding what he’s going to do has a mammoth effect on Green Bay’s ability to plan for the fall, and with each passing week that job only becomes more difficult. As we’ve established this is all complicated. Rodgers potentially walking away from football one year after signing a massive contract extension puts the Packers in a really awkward position.
There are four potential ways this ends.
Aaron Rodgers retires
There’s no doubt Rodgers remains one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, but if we’re being honest it just doesn’t seem like his heart is in this anymore. Part of that is an indictment against the Packers’ leadership, which has done a horrible job keeping the offensive shelves stocked and consistently asking Rodgers to carry the team, and part is that Rodgers seems more interested in things other than football.
The prospect of retirement puts the power entirely in Rodgers’ hands, and it depends how petty he wants to be on the way out. If he straight up retires outright without working with the organization it would put Green Bay in a deep financial hole. A total of $78M in dead money needs to be accounted for, with the Packers’ options for relief being pretty minimal.
Retirement papers would be filed after June 1, allowing Green Bay to spread out the Rodgers hit over two years — but we’re still talking about a colossal cap hit as a result, both now and in 2024. If No. 12 wants to be kind, and salvage some good will he could restructure his contract on the way out the door — but that’s the only hope the Packers have at this point.
Aaron Rodgers returns to the Packers
This is the best outcome for Green Bay, but it’s still complicated. It allows them to kick the can down the road a little longer with one of football’s best players, but it directly impact’s their ability to plan for the future.
The front office know how much they believe in or trust Jordan Love to be the quarterback ascendent. That is where this gets murky. Love is in the final year of his rookie contract, and really the team should be using this year to assess whether he’s a long term answer or not. Agreeing to an extension blindly seems dicey, and you can’t franchise tag him in 2024 because of the money involved. Furthermore, how much longer is Love happy to ride the bench for Rodgers?
If you were to welcome Rodgers back, but bench him mid-season if things aren’t going well, the indignation of turning over the keys could force Rodgers to retire after this coming season, and that’s still a cap problem.
Aaron Rodgers is traded
While Rodgers doesn’t have a no-trade clause built into his contract, he might as well have one. The threat of retirement means nobody in the NFL will attempt to make a deal without his approval, or guarantees he’ll actually play. This greatly limits the Packers options.
The most likely destination is the Jets, which has been rumored for a while. Not only does it reunite Rodgers with Nathaniel Hackett, who he worked with in Green Bay — but it might also represent his best chance at another ring. The Jets already boast an elite defense, and offensive tools beyond quarterback that would put them in among the favorites in the AFC instantly with Rodgers at the helm.
Plus, we get the incredible story of Rodgers going on the exact same path as Brett Favre by ruminating on retirement before getting dealt to the Jets.
Jokes aside, this is a very good scenario. Rodgers would likely restructure his contract to make it work, while the Packers would be free to move on with Love at quarterback, hoping their investment in the future will pay off.
Cutting Aaron Rodgers
This isn’t going to happen. It’s technically possible, sure — but no matter how big the headache gets the Packers would decimate their financial future for YEARS but cutting Rodgers outright.
Even if we assume he’d be a post-June 1 cut, Rodgers would be a $43M hit against the cap this year, basically destroying the Packers’ ability to do business.