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Aaron Rodgers returned to the Green Bay Packers after a turbulent offseason to give it one more shot with this storied franchise. Following another ugly playoff loss, with the Packers headed for salary-cap woes, it’s time for both sides to part ways.
Green Bay wants Rodgers back, especially head coach Matt LaFleur. But with the Packers unable to win a Super Bowl or even a playoff game with one of their most talented rosters ever, the window feels closed. Rodgers is non-commital to playing in 2022, but a chance to compete with another team feels like the logical outcome for the NFL MVP.
- Aaron Rodgers stats (2021): 4,115 passing yards, 37 passing touchdowns, 111.9 QB rating, 68.9% completion rate
Fit will be important. When he renegotiated his contract this offseason, new language in the deal left the ALl-Pro quarterback with power. He gets to determine his fate in 2022 and that means finding a new team if he believes that’s best for him.
Let’s examine the best landing spots for Aaron Rodgers.
Aaron Rodgers traded to Denver Broncos
During a drama-filled 2021 offseason, Rodgers wanted a trade to Denver. There is plenty of offensive weaponry on the Broncos’ roster; running back Javonte Williams, tight end Noah Fant and wide receivers Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy and Tim Patrick. Pair that with an upper-echelon defense and Rodgers would walk into a great situation.
- Denver Broncos trade: 2022 1st, 2022 2nd, 2023 1st, 2023 2nd, TE Albert Okwuegbunam, 2024 2nd
- Green Bay Packers trade: Aaron Rodgers
Denver’s trade offer features the 9th overall pick as the headliner. With that selection, Green Bay could land a top offensive tackle like Charles Cross or edge rusher George Karlaftis. The additional picks provide general manager Brian Gutekunst with the ability to build a deep, young roster. For a team in cap hell, the Packers need all the cheap, young playmakers they can get.
- Aaron Rodgers contract: $46.4 million cap hit (2022), 2023 free agent
As for Denver, acquiring Rodgers would be part of a three-step move. Hire Dan Quinn as head coach, someone Rodgers holds tremendous respect for. Immediately after that, Quinn names Luke Getsy as his play-caller. Getsy, the Packers’ 37-year-old quarterbacks coach, is extremely close with Rodgers and could help him transition to a new team with dynamic talent around him.
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Indianapolis Colts swing for the fences
After missing out on the playoffs because of a Week 18 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Indianapolis Colts are open to everything. Take the quarterback position out of the equation and the Colts boasted the defense, coaching and offensive scheme to win a Super Bowl. But Carson Wentz couldn’t get it done. With owner Jim Irsay willing to be very aggressive to improve this team, one quarterback upgrade stands out.
- Indianapolis Colts receive: Aaron Rodgers
- Green Bay Packers receive: Carson Wentz, 2022 IND 2nd, 2023 IND 1st, 2023 IND 2nd, 2024 IND 1st, 2024 IND 2nd, Dayo Odeyingbo
The trade would be a bit similar to the Jared Goff-Matthew Stafford deal in 2021. Indianapolis adds additional compensation for the Packers to take on Wentz’s contract. While he wouldn’t be the long-term starter for the Packers, he’s better than Jordan Love and would at least give LaFleur and Co. a shot to win the NFC North. Plus, Odeyingbo provides depth at edge rusher and the draft picks could be gold for Gutekunst.
Financially, this is perfect for the Colts. Rodgers’ contract slides in nicely and he’d join a team that would instantly be viewed as a Super Bowl contender with him on the roster. Frank Reich gets a quarterback he admires to execute one of the best game plans in the NFL every week and the Colts become a force in the AFC. Plus, Rodgers gets to avoid playing home playoff games in frigid conditions.
New York Giants land Aaron Rodgers
There are always surprises in the trade market. A trade to the New York Giants might not seem like the perfect landing spot for Aaron Rodgers. But New York nailed its hire of a general manager and it likely makes them one of the favorites for Brian Daboll as head coach. Bring in a top offensive mind and suddenly things could get very appealing for Rodgers.
- Green Bay Packers acquire: 2022 NYG 1st (5th overall), 2022 CHI 1st (7th overall), 2023 NYG 2nd, 2024 NYG 2nd, Darius Slayton, Daniel Jones
- New York Giants acquire: Aaron Rodgers
Not much needs to be said from Green Bay’s perspective. It acquires two top-10 picks in a 2022 NFL Draft with plenty of talent at positions of need. The Packers could add a wide receiver like Garrett Wilson to replace Davante Adams and center Tyler Linderbaum could become an All-Pro interior blocker at his peak. Even if Love isn’t the guy, which is likely, Daniel Jones can get some looks. In the worst-case scenario, there’s a better foundation to add a quarterback next year.
As for the Giants, take a look at the offense. Rodgers under center means teams can’t focus on the run, making life a lot easier for Saquon Barkley. Landing an All-Pro quarterback could also be what helps Kenny Golladay return to Pro Bowl form with KaDarius Toney turned into a YAC threat in the passing attack. All of that talent in an offense coached by Daboll, with good defense on the other side. New York would be the best team in the NFC East.
Carolina Panthers find their franchise quarterback
There’s arguably no franchise more desperate for a quarterback upgrade than the Carolina Panthers. Team owner David Tepper wanted Deshaun Watson in 2021, but a deal never came together. He could also pursue a trade for Russell Wilson, but location might result in Wilson blocking that. So, why not make the Packers an overwhelming offer for their future Hall of Fame quarterback.
- Carolina Panthers trade: 2022 CAR 1st (6th overall), 2023 CAR 1st, 2023 CAR 2nd, 2024 1st, Robby Anderson
- Green Bay Packers trade: Aaron Rodgers
Thanks to the Sam Darnold deal, Carolina doesn’t have second- or third-round picks to offer Green Bay But the 6th selection along with two future first-round picks, that’s a convincing offer. Robby Anderson, who carries a $16.8 million cap hit in 2022, would provide Green Bay with an upgrade over Marquez Valdes-Scantling.
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If something like this happens, Carolina is set up perfectly. Rodgers reunites with Ben McAdoo, who worked in Green Bay from 2006-’13 and served as Rodgers’ quarterbacks coach (2012-’13). Together, they inherit an offense with All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey, star wide receiver DJ Moore and 2021 second-round pick Terrace Marshall Jr. It’s instantly a playoff team and a lot more if Tom Brady retires.