- Aaron Rodgers has hinted all year that it could be his last season with the Packers.
- The Broncos appear to be going all-in to entice the reigning MVP to jump to Denver.
- It’s a move that would have league-wide ramifications, and turn the AFC West into a minefield.
Aaron Rodgers is once again the biggest story of the NFL offseason.
After teasing a potential exit from the Green Bay Packers last year, Rodgers returned to Lambeau Field and once again proved he’s one of the best quarterbacks and is all but certain to be named MVP for the second straight season.
Still, Rodgers continued to hint that it could be his last year in Green Bay. Rodgers could finally be ready to pull the trigger and make a move after the Packers’ early exit from the postseason.
“I did not think we’d be talking about this after this game,” Rodgers said after the loss. “I’m going to take some time and have conversations with the folks around here and then take some time away and make a decision, obviously before free agency or anything kind of gets going on that front.”
Rodgers may be taking his time to make a decision, but around him, the entire NFL is preparing for what could be a league-shaking move.
The Broncos appear to be all-in on convincing Rodgers to make the jump to Denver
Few teams would be a more enticing destination for Rodgers at this point than the Denver Broncos.
On Thursday morning, reports broke that the Broncos named former Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett as their head coach. Given his familiarity with Hackett, Rodgers would know what to expect in a move to the Broncos.
Further, despite going 7-10 in 2021, the Broncos are a team that is built to win now. The Denver defense finished the year giving up an average of just 18.9 points per game, trailing only the Buffalo Bills in that mark. Their stout defensive performance came even though they play the high-powered offenses of the Chiefs, Chargers, and Raiders twice each in the AFC West.
Making the Broncos an even more attractive potential destination for Rodgers is their extraordinarily talented group of young receivers — Courtland Sutton (26 years old), Jerry Jeudy (22), K.J. Hamler (22), and Tim Patrick (28).
Sutton is already an elite pass-catcher, and at six-foot-four, an extremely tough matchup for opposing defenses. Jeudy is a speedster capable of stretching the field for the entire offense while also having good enough hands to make short plays when called. Hamler is set to be a menace out of the slot, although an ACL tear cut short his 2021 campaign. Patrick, the group veteran, is a do-it-all playmaker who took on a more significant role in the offense after Jeudy and Hamler suffered their injuries early in the 2021 season.
This group has been waiting for a quarterback who can unlock their potential. They would also immediately give Rodgers one of his best receiver groups ever.
Rodgers said after the Packers’ loss to the 49ers that he didn’t want to be a part of a rebuild.
There is no team in the NFL more ready to step into greatness with the addition of one stellar quarterback than the Denver Broncos, and with a familiar face taking over as head coach, Rodgers is undoubtedly at the very least considering Denver as a landing spot.
Rodgers’ move to Denver would not come without challenges
Before anyone gets too excited, it’s worth noting that Rodgers is still under contract for one more season with the Packers. Still, given Green Bay’s current situation against the salary cap (it’s terrible), trading Rodgers would be a quick and relatively easy way to bring cap relief.
The Packers might be motivated to get a deal done, but it would have to be the right deal. There’s little doubt the Green Bay front office would want a hefty sum in exchange for a quarterback coming off of back-to-back MVP seasons.
Green Bay isn’t in a position to turn down any and every offer they get for Rodgers, but negotiating the terms of a potential trade is a hurdle that cannot go unmentioned.
Additionally, from Rodgers’ perspective, Denver also presents just as many challenges as it does advantages.
The Broncos play in the AFC West, a division that looks set for a decade of dominance between Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs and Justin Herbert and the Chargers.
Derek Carr and the Raiders being the worst team you play twice a year would surely come as a shock to someone used to four cupcake games against the Bears and Lions in the NFC North.
Rodgers is more than capable of handling his own against the best the NFL has to offer, but there are no easy games in the AFC West.
Should Rodgers move to Denver, it would immediately shake up the power structure of the entire NFL
If Rodgers does join the Broncos, the landscape of the NFL will change overnight.
The AFC West would immediately become the toughest division in football if it weren’t already. As a conference, the AFC would be an absolute gauntlet, between the aspiring dynasty of the Chiefs, a Bills team that came within a coin toss of beating them, the ascension of the Bengals, and a slew of contenders with MVP talent, including the Ravens, Chargers, and Titans.
Adding the best active quarterback in the NFL to that mix is a terrifying proposition in football terms but should make for some awesome games.
Even bigger would be the crater Rodgers would leave in the NFC. The Packers would enter a rebuild, with no apparent heir in the NFC North.
Should Tom Brady choose to retire, the NFC would suddenly be without the two best quarterbacks in the conference.
Such a dramatic swing would leave the NFC wide open to emerging teams to rise and grab some glory, or we could be looking at five years of sustained dominance by the Los Angeles Rams.
While a move to Denver would make a lot of sense, ultimately, Rodgers is holding all the cards
While it’s easy to list why Rodgers would want to move to Denver — he’s tired of Green Bay, they just hired a head coach he likes, they have a ton of talent ready to go — ultimately, Rodgers’ future is up to Rodgers.
If he decides to stay in Green Bay, the Packers would surely love to keep him. While it would take some financial finagling, nothing is impossible for NFL teams balancing the books.
For all the whispers of Rodgers-to-Denver, there are also plenty of other potential destinations Rodgers could decide to play out his second act. With Ben Roethlisberger officially retiring, the Steelers also make sense as a ready-to-go team needing a star quarterback, and Rodgers has an affinity for Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin.
Rodgers could even make good on his initial NFL dream of playing for the 49ers and go to the team that eliminated him from the playoffs this year. This would become more likely if San Francisco decides to move on from Jimmy Garoppolo but still give rookie Trey Lance more time to develop.
And all of these potential outcomes presume Rodgers intends to keep playing. At 38 and with a quarter-billion in career earnings, a retirement is certainly an option for Rodgers should he so choose.
Whatever Rodgers ultimately decides, it will have a ripple effect on the entire NFL.