The Green Bay Packers were dealt a massive blow Sunday when quarterback Aaron Rodgers went down with a serious injury. The team confirmed that he suffered a broken collarbone, which means the two-time NFL Most Valuable Player could miss the rest of the season.
Rodgers was hurt when he was slammed to the ground by Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr after an incomplete pass during the first quarter. As he hit the turf, his right shoulder appeared to roll hard on the ground, and he laid there in visible pain some time after the play. Medical personnel came out to check on Rodgers, and he was eventually carted to the locker room to be evaluated further.
The news of a broken collarbone was confirmed by the Packers after halftime, and Rodgers was listed as “out” for the remainder of the game. Backup quarterback Brett Hundley took over the rest of the way and could likely do so the rest of the season. Rodgers’ injury means Hundley is the only healthy quarterback on Green Bay’s roster, and it’s assumed receiver Randall Cobb would take over if he were to get injured. It also means that the Packers will have to make some serious personnel moves in the coming days to patch up the position moving forward.
Could that mean that Packers General Manager Ted Thompson reaches out to free agent Colin Kaepernick?
Thompson isn’t typically known as an executive who makes a splash in free agency, though he’s made a few midseason moves whenever necessary due to injuries. It seems like now — more than ever — a move is a necessity in order for Green Bay to continue competing for the playoffs.
Quarterback Joe Callahan, who’s on the practice squad, will be promoted to the active roster and back up Hundley. But Callahan doesn’t have any experience playing in a regular season game, which means picking up a free agent with experience could be next.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said following the game that Hundley will remain the quarterback moving forward and made it sound as if there’s no expectation they will sign a free agent.
If the Packers want to sign Kaepernick, they’d certainly have the salary cap space to do so. According to Sportrac, Green Bay is an estimated $19.48 million below the salary cap.
But many owners across the league have remained hesitant to give the former 49ers quarterback a call. Some speculate it’s because of his protests during the national anthem and the media firestorm that comes with it. Others say the 29-year-old Milwaukee native doesn’t have what it takes anymore to lead an NFL offense.
When President Donald Trump criticized the ongoing protests in the NFL last month, Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy denounced the comments, saying in a statement that players on the team are “leaders in our communities and positive influences.”
It’s unfortunate that the President decided to use his immense platform to make divisive and offensive statements about our players and the NFL. We strongly believe that players are leaders in our communities and positive influences. They have achieved their positions through tremendous work and dedication and should be celebrated for their success and positive impact. We believe it is important to support any of our players who choose to peacefully express themselves with the hope of change for good. As Americans, we are fortunate to be able to speak openly and freely.
Through the controversy surrounding the NFL spurred by Trump, Rodgers himself remained supportive of Kaepernick and kneeling during the anthem to protest injustice in American society. He told ESPN that Kaepernick deserves a job as quarterback in the NFL.
“I think he should be on a roster right now,” said to ESPN’s Mina Kimes. “I think because of his protests, he’s not.”
Rodgers also said he feels Kaepernick, who led the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2014, still has what it takes to start for an NFL franchise.
“I think he’s one of the best 64 quarterbacks right now,” Rodgers said to Sporting News. “So I am surprised he’s not on a roster.”
The broken collarbone is the same injury Rodgers suffered during the 2013-14 season, when he went down Week 9 against the Chicago Bears. He eventually returned to the team for the final game of the regular season and helped the Packers win the NFC North championship and earn a playoff berth.
During the stretch of games when Rodgers was out, Scott Tolzien took starting snaps along with Matt Flynn on a week-to-week basis. Seneca Wallace also started a game against the Philadelphia Eagles, but he got injured and never took the field again for Green Bay.